Easter 7 (Mothers Day) • 8 May 2016

1 Samuel 1:19-28
Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21
John 17: 20-26

Rev. John Candy

Stewardship of Life

It is difficult sometimes to reflect on Mother's Day in worship as I know there are those women sitting there who have chosen to remain single;
there are those who are married but cannot bear children;
and there are those who are single and alone by circumstance such as death and divorce.
Yet, in one of my resource materials I found some works entitled ‘Faithful Motherhood - The Stewardship of Life." Ella Pearson Mitchell writes:
"When one preaches every Mother's Day, what is new for one to say?"
Then she comments that we might call Hannah, Samuel’s wife a faithful mother, a steward of life.

I like that. It is fresh and provides me with a different direction from other years.
I also wondered whether that it would be better to concentrate on the Family as my topic but decided against it because of the many pitfalls in our society that just might alienate some women.
However, I feel that Mitchell has provided me with an example of celebrating motherhood in the story of Hannah so desperately wanting a child that she will give "him" to the Lord.
It also means that I will not be preaching directly on our readings.

So this morning I am going to explore part of Hannah’s story.
We also can celebrate the family within the context of motherhood, thus honouring our mother's even as we honour God by giving all our children back to God, hoping and praying that the faith of their mother's will be a faith that is theirs as they grow and journey from the nest.
I may be rambling here but I find that it isn't always easy to celebrate Mother's Day in the church without being lead down a path that one could call soppy.
God bless you all and a Happy Mother's Day to you stewards of life.

In a recent Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Calvin is standing by his mother’s bed when he says, “Hey, Mom! Wake up.
I made you a Mother’s Day card.”
His mother was very pleased and started to read it out loud.
“I was going to buy a card with hearts of pink and red.
But then I thought I’d rather spend the money instead.
It’s awfully hard to buy things when one’s allowance is so small.

So I guess you’re plenty lucky I got you anything at all.
Happy Mother’s Day. There, I’ve said it.
Now I’m done.
So how about getting out of bed and fixing breakfast for your son.”

It’s not easy to be a mom.
A mother was talking to an old college friend and said, “I remember before I was married that I had three theories about raising children.
Now I have three children and no theories.
While we certainly want to magnify motherhood today, I recognise that this is also a very tough day for some of you.

At the time of Samuel and Hannah, the nation of Israel was often oppressed by the surrounding nations.
God would appoint a judge to lead His people, but their freedom generally lasted only as long as the judge was alive.
On top of that, many of the judges, like Samson, had some fatal flaws.
Their spiritual decay was linked to the absence of a king. In Samuel, we’re introduced to Hannah, who is the mother of the prophet who will designate Israel’s chosen king.
Hannah has the traits of a woman of faith.

Hannah is an example of a woman of faith.
She endures years of silent suffering because of her barrenness and the cruel harassment at the hand of her rival, Penninah.
She goes to the place of worship, knowing how painful it is.
She faithfully worships, pouring out her tears and petitions.
And when God answers her prayers, she not only keeps her promise, she explodes with praise.

In this Old Testament Story God reminds us of the great worth of women.
So lift up your head and realise that God loves you for who you are, not for what you do.
This goes for women, men and children.
For woman though God is there with you in your sorrow and your pain and God will meet you right where you are.

I wonder on this mother’s day if we have ever thought of or actually made it our mission to give our children to the Lord for a lifetime of dedicated service.
I was reflecting about this when reading Hannah’s story. There seems to me to be no greater purpose, and no higher honour, than to have our children give their lives in surrendered service to the Lord of Hosts.

If you were to continue reading through the book of Samuel, you’d discover that Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, were not nice blokes and did some perversely detestable things.
It’s very interesting that their mother is never mentioned anywhere.
We don’t know if she died or if she was just not engaged as a parent.
Samuel, on the other hand, was greatly impacted by his mother, and went on to become one of the most significant individuals in God’s redemptive history. Mothers matter greatly to children and to the Church in its life and work and to the very future of whatever nation they live in.
One of the lessons from the life of Hannah is that each of us needs to be growing in our own relationship with God. If we want our children to learn about God, and to love God with all they’ve got, it’s first got to be real and seen in our lives and actions.

That reminds me of a story I heard that happened one Sunday after a baptism service.
As the young family was driving away from church after the baptism of their baby, the older brother, cried all the way home in the back seat of the car.
His mother asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, “That minister said he wanted us to be brought up in a Christian home…and I want to stay with you!”
If you want your children brought up in a Christian home, make sure that Christ is at home in your heart.
If He is, then spend the rest of your life giving your children back to the Lord they belong to Him anyway.

And now for a "Reflection of a Mother"

I gave you, life, but cannot live it for you.
I can teach you things, but I cannot make you learn.
I can give you directions, but I cannot be there to lead you.
I can allow you freedom, but I cannot account for it.
I can take you to church, but I cannot make you believe.
I can teach you right from wrong, but I cannot always decide for you.
I can buy you beautiful clothes, but I cannot make you beautiful inside.
I can offer you advice, but I cannot accept it for you.
I can give you love, but I cannot force it upon you.
I can teach you to share, but I cannot make you unselfish.
I can teach you respect, but I cannot force you to show honour.
I can advise you about friends, but cannot choose them for you.
I can advise you about sex, but I cannot keep you pure.
I can tell you the facts of life, but I can't build your reputation.
I can tell you about drink, but I can't say "no" for you.
I can warn you about drugs, but I can't prevent you from using them.
I can tell you about lofty goals, but I can't achieve them for you.
I can teach you about kindness, but I can't force you to be gracious.
I can warn you about sins, but I cannot make you moral.
I can love you as a child, but I cannot place you in God's family.
I can pray for you, but I cannot make you walk with God.
I can teach you about Jesus, but I cannot make Jesus your Lord.
I can tell you how to live, but I cannot give you eternal life.
I can love you with unconditional love all of my life...and I will!