Sunday, May 14, 2017: "Our Mother's Belief in Us." Fr. Carey Stone

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 Easter 5A’17

14 May 2017
I Peter 2.2-10
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church
North Little Rock, Arkansas
The Rev. Carey Stone
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord my strength and my redeemer. Amen. - Psalm 19.14
At a diocesan convention the bishop got up and started his sermon with this sentence; "I spent the 
best years of my life in the arms of a woman who was not my wife!"  As the congregation gasped he said, "She was my mother!"
 A young priest, fresh from seminary heard this and decided to use this line in his sermon back at his church, but he was feeling a bit uncertain that he 
remembered it right.  Forging ahead he started with, "I spent the best years of my life in the arms of a woman who was not my wife".  
The congregation gasped and the preacher paused, forgetting what the punch line was.    After a few nervous moments he said, 
 "And I can't remember who she was!"
I’m sure if his mother was in the congregation that day she would have been horrified! Today in the Church we remember and honor our mothers. This mother’s day is particularly hard for me because it is my first mother’s day without my mother. This one will be different for sure. There will be no cards, flowers, or phone calls but thankfully there are many memories to reflect on and cherish.  I am proud to remember her today! After my mother’s funeral one of my friends reminded me, “She was your biggest fan!” So true - she always believed in me and knew that God had a great plan for my life. In so many ways she selflessly invested herself in my life. Where would most of us be without the faith filled investment of our mothers? 
This was definitely true of Jesus. There’s nothing quite as powerful as the belief of a Jewish mama in their children! One of my Jewish friends who is a doctor told a good joke on his mother, he asked, “What is a Jewish mother’s definition of a viable fetus? His answer, “When they graduate from medical school!” Mary didn’t understand fully that she was raising the Messiah but with no husband and angel visitations to kick things off she knew he was destined for great things. As Mary invested her life in Jesus she would encounter many trials and pains along the road with her son as she was once told “a sword will pierce your own soul,” and we know this must have happened as she witnessed his crucifixion. But she had been faithful in investing the stories of faith from the patriarchs and matriarchs and of her own life, and instilled her belief in him – due in no small part to her efforts he was ready to face his destiny as the Savior of the world.  
This past fall as my mother was drawing closer to her death I was struck by something she did. As I started opening up to her about a personal problem I was struggling with she changed the subject and began talking about how her life was winding down and she asked me to give the eulogy at her funeral. This was not what I was expecting to hear – she was preparing me for her departure. 
In today’s gospel we hear Jesus changing the subject by giving one of his final discourses as he was preparing for his own death. We hear him share those words that have brought comfort to so many at countless funerals: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many mansions/dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”   Jesus then reassures them that in him is to be found the way forward, in him is to be found the truth of what really matters, and in him is to be found the only life worth living that would lead to eternal life. Then we see the faith that was instilled in him by his mother Mary carried forward into the lives of his disciples: “Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and in fact, will do greater works that these, because I am going to the Father.”  Jesus was preparing to finish his earthly mission and he was expressing his belief in his disciples. He had invested his very life into theirs and now he had the utmost confidence that God the Father had a great plan for their lives and their continued ministry. 
The torch of faith was being passed down from Mary to Jesus from Jesus to his disciples and from his disciples to us, we hear Peter in today’s epistle sharing God’s great plan for all of us: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people, once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”  
Like a tenacious and unrelenting Jewish mother, God truly is our biggest fan, God has chosen us, and God has called us out of darkness into God’s marvelous light and whether we are 9 or 90 God has great works for us to perform! Amen.