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Becoming the Friends of God, Sixth Sunday of Easter May 10th 2015 Christ Lutheran Church, El Cerrito, CA

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Sixth Sunday of Easter May 10th 2015 Christ Lutheran Church

Acts 10:44-48 Psalm 98 1 John 5:1-6 John 15:9-17

Becoming the Friends of God

Well, today, now-a-days, we have to be open to the way the world changes. I used to always speak about muddling through. All the Internet technology, for example: who can follow Facebook, Twitter, Spotify, Snapchat, Linkedin, etc. But then in another case, while we pray to “Our Father,” one can sometimes hear a pastor refer to God as “she.” We have a new song after communion, which I remember with many masculine pronouns, six in all:

Thank the Lord and sing his praise; / tell everyone what he has done. / Let everyone who seeks the Lord / rejoice and proudly call his name. / He recalls his promises, and leads his people forth in joy / with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia, alleluia.[1]

The new translation that we are singing today takes all those masculine pronouns out:

Thankful hearts and voices raise; / tell ev’ryone what God has done. / Let ev’ryone who seeks the Lord / rejoice and bear the name of Christ. / Send us with your promises / and lead your people forth in joy / with shouts of thanksgiving. Alleluia, alleluia.[2]

And of course we now understand that using God to support Patriarchy is not helpful. My sisters always used to say, “It’s a man’s world” and we should try to overcome the subjugation of women, because all over the world it also leads to violence against them. So we have to struggle with these changes and follow after to where God is leading us.

So too, I believe fathers should become more mothering and mothers could become more fathering. It’s like realizing that God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ often compares God’s very self to a mother hen gathering us all up like little chicks under her protective wings. Have you ever seen a little chick pop out from under the wing of a mother hen and look around?

I don’t know what a mother hen is called in English. We used to call them Glucken, which is the German name for it. When a hen gets mothering in its head, it begins to go “gluck, gluck” and then insists on sitting on eggs to hatch them. They go “gluck, gluck,” meaning “come to me,” “gluck, gluck” and that way they bring and keep all their chicks around them until they grow up. It was a terrible trick to play on a poor hen, when you put duck eggs under her. They would go down to the brook together and the ducklings would jump into the water and the mother hen would become all discombobulated, be completely beside herself at the edge of the water.

I believe that there is such a deep natural love in mothering, that God the father also championed God’s love as that of a mother. But Jesus also uses the same words when he weeps and laments over Jerusalem: “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” (Luke 13:34)

So we have the mothering Father and Son. Of course, the Holy Spirit comes like a nurturing mother to us as well. When we walk and faint she carries us – so that she gives birth to all God’s promises and purposes in us, so that we are carried in love, grace, hope, and the faith that comes down from above.

We have to face this world in order to overcome it. Like the great song says:

We shall overcome, – We shall overcome, –  We shall overcome some day, –

Oh, Deep in my heart. I do believe. We shall overcome some day.”[3]

We have to understand what being born from this mothering God helps us overcome. What is it that our faith gives us the victory over? It is the disconnect, the alienation from God the source of our strength and being.

I think the old Negro spiritual says it well:

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child!

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child!

Sometimes I feel like a motherless child!

A long way from home, a long way from home.

That is quite a lament. Some men are not good fathers. Some women are not good mothers. And what to do? A verse in the Bible tells us: “God gives the barren woman a home making her the happy mother of a house-full of children”[4] and in Isaiah, “Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says the Lord.”[5] So a mother can experience so much pressure from her career that the child needs to find another mothering person. Mostly that has been the problem with fathers, but it is now also one that mothers make children experience.

That is one issue, but not the most negative. Isaiah asks, “Can a woman forget her nursing child at her breast or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.”[6] and again a Psalm: “Even if my mother and father forsake me; the Lord will take me up!”[7] That’s God’s promise. In the realities of this world, however, we have to realize further that some mothers are abusive, some are hooked on drugs, some are narcissistic – all caught up in themselves and oblivious to the needs of their children, except how their children can help them. But on the other hand, the love of some mothers is a pure example of God’s love.

Now if I were to say, “Anyone here who has not had a mother, please stand up!” Who could stand? We have all had one or we would not be here. But every mother is only human, just like every father; and later in life, we have to come to terms with the limits to which they could bring us up. Then the way of maturity is to forgive them and let God bring you up farther – by providing you with the saints, who have matured farther in Christ and can bring you up to the extent of their maturity. Then you just have to turn to God, who in Jesus Christ, promotes you from a servant to a friend, so that you are not only into doing and serving, but also into being and becoming who you really are, a friend, a friend of Jesus, a friend of God. In that maturity, we become real women, real men, real persons. For the friends of God are like the sun when she rises in all its splendor. That is from the Book of Judges.[8]

And in the mothering of the Holy Spirit, there will no longer be the lost, those who feel like motherless children. In the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation among the Lakotas, there is an epidemic of suicides, some as young as 14 years of age, whose parents are alcoholic and drug addicted and they experience abuse all around.[9] They illustrate the story of our negative legacy against Native Americans, whom we’ve driven onto barren reservations.

Do you know the children’s book, “Are you my Mother?” Well, we have found that one, our friend, our mother, our father, in our wonderful God, who loves us and gives us the upbringing that is out of this world, so beautiful, our S-O-N-rise, our daughter-rise, so that in the breaking of a new day, we see the many who are lost in this sorry world, who await salvation from the children of God, from the friends of God. Amen.

________________________________

[1] Lutheran Book of Worship, (Augsburg Publishing House, 1978), page 115.

[2] Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Augsburg/ Fortress, 2006), hymn No. 207.

[3] With the passing of one of the Civil Rights song writers, Guy Carawan, who along with Pete Seeger, and others rewrote and introduced this song into the movement, it was featured in the New York Times, Friday May 8, 2015, page B14.

[4] Cf. Psalm 113:9.

[5] Isaiah 54:1.

[6] Isaiah 49:15.

[7] Psalm 27:10.

[8] Judges 5:31.

[9] In a letter to the Editor of the New York Times, Ethleen Iron Cloud Two Dogs – Victoria Shorr writes that 20% of the population at Pine Ridge attempt suicide before finishing high school. Concerning this, the poorest county in the United States, in another letter a pediatrician, Ron Schneebaum writes that the life expectancy is an average of 45 years of age and “Home for the once-great Lakota Nation stretched from the Black hills through the Great Plains. Our treaties forced them into the most barren, windswept and unproductive parcel, while prejudice reigns in the surrounding cities and towns.” New York Times, Monday, May 11, 2015, Editorial page A18.

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Written by peterkrey

May 11, 2015 at 11:38 am

Posted in Selected Sermons

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