Richard Kerr once wrote: “The most creative job in the world involves fashion, decorating, recreation, education, transportation, psychology, romance, cuisine, literature, art, economics, government, pediatrics, geriatrics, entertainment, maintenance, purchasing, law, religion, energy and management. Anyone who can handle all those has to be somebody special. She is. She’s a homemaker.” It’s a sad thing that many in the last few decades have demeaned this important job and made comments like: “Oh, you just stay at home? You don’t have a real job?” There is no job more real; there is no job more important than that of mother. If an outside job causes them to neglect their most important job, women will find that they have cheated themselves and their children.
Surely it is right for us to honor those among us who faithfully live out the role of mother. Though often overlooked, what our mothers do for their children has a huge impact on the future of our church and our world. As we learn more and more about child development, we come to appreciate the importance of this task. Can a woman do anything more important than instill faith in her children and raise them in the knowledge of the Word of God?
There are heroes among us — those whose deeds go far beyond their strength, far beyond their wisdom, far beyond all reasonable expectations. These heroes are called: Mother. Mothers, we salute you not only on Mother’s Day, but each day as you perform this holy task. As you sacrifice your own worship time to handle an unruly child or as you spend prayerful nights over a child who is sick, yours is a high calling. Let no one tell you otherwise. Our church needs good mothers.
A family was watching The Greatest Story Ever Told, a film on the life of Christ. One of the children in the family was deeply moved. As Jesus journeyed to Calvary, tears rolled down her cheeks. She sat absolutely silent until Jesus had been taken down from the cross and put into the tomb. Then she suddenly grinned and shouted excitedly, “Now comes the good part!”
Now comes the good part! Indeed it does! The resurrection of our Lord is the basis of our faith. Without it, we would be lost! Without the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
The gospel would be meaningless.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).
Forgiveness of sins would be hopeless.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).
Present life would be joyless.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:18-19).
Godly living would be fruitless.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father (John 14:12).
Future life would be worthless.
Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-2).
Do you understand what is at stake? If there is no resurrection, there is no Gospel; if there is no Gospel, there is no forgiveness of sin; if there is no forgiveness of sin, there is no present joy; if there is no present joy, there is no future hope. Just remember that Christ is preparing a place for us in His Father’s house and then comes the good part!
Crucifixion was often referred to as the “most wretched of deaths.” It was so offensive, that many Romans did not like to even mention it. This form of death was repugnant and only reserved for the lowest classes, slaves, and political criminals. If someone in the family were a convicted criminal and were executed in this way, it would have been a source of shame and embarrassment.
Of all the deaths to die, why was this the way Jesus died: If Jesus died on the battlefield in a blaze of glory, would that not have been a better story to tell? Outsiders often scorned Christians for the scandal of serving one who had been executed on a cross. Yet neither the New Testament writers nor the early church tried to tone down the cross. They could have just said that Jesus died without telling how he died.
What does the fact that Jesus died the lowest, the most wretched of deaths say about him? Jesus poured himself out as a bond servant both in life and in death. He also redefined glory. Glory is found not in heroic tales of marvelous feats, but in the simple and faithful service rendered to others in the name of God. Whether it is washing feet, a cup of cold water, kindness to the outcast, glory is found with the least of these. To be crucified with Christ, to take up your cross, dying with him daily, means identifying with the “least of these” even in the face of severe persecution. It means becoming nobody so that you will be somebody before God. The Kingdom of God is so different than the kingdom of this world. The greatest are the least and the least are the greatest.
Every spring we set our clocks forward one hour to begin daylight savings time. Then in the fall we set our clocks back one hour to resume standard time. Only a few weeks ago we did the springing forward which always means we lose an hour of sleep in the transition.
Which is more difficult for you to adjust to — springing forward or falling back? Some people struggle with the springing forward because the evenings seem so much longer and they are ready to go to bed at the old time. Other people struggle with the falling back because they wake up in the morning at the same time and lay awake for an extra hour. Eventually most everyone adjusts to the time changes.
In our spiritual lives springing forward is always a better course than falling backwards. Spiritually speaking, we are in a constant battle between falling back and springing forward. We struggle with temptations to fall back into our old self-sufficient lifestyles. We choose what we want rather than what God would want. The option to just stand still never works for we invariably lose ground.
We need to make the effort to spring forward into lifestyles that would please God. We need to strive every day to become more like Christ. Like Paul, we need to forget what lies behind and reach forward to what lies ahead and press on toward the goal of Christlikeness
(Phil. 3:13,14). Let’s not fall back spiritually. Instead let’s spring forward.
With the sign of the cross on our foreheads from our Ash Wednesday service and our little purple sheets of give-ups and take-ups we have moved into the Lenten season. Lent is a season of forty days leading up to Easter. The forty days does not include the Sundays during this time. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday. The origin of the word Lent is an Anglo-Saxon word, lencten, which means “spring”. Lent is the season in which we prepare ourselves for Easter. In the early days, Lent was a time of fasting and preparation for baptism of converts. Eventually, it became a time of penance. Each year we remind ourselves of our need for repentance and therefore our need to remove ourselves from the temptations of life which separate us from the Will of God. Because each Sunday during Lent is a little Easter, we also celebrate the resurrection of the Lord and our own expectation of resurrection.
We often joke about what we are giving up for Lent, similar to the way we joke about New Year’s resolutions, especially when we don’t follow through with our commitment. It is always good, therefore, to stop and reflect on the meaning of this season. When we receive the ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are being marked outwardly as a Christian, as a follower of the Way. Some will wipe the ashes away when they leave so that others in the community will not see them, so that they will not be embarrassed. This happens each Sunday throughout the year for many as they try to hide or at least subdue their Christian nature for fear of not fitting into the everyday secular world of their friends. The spiritual truth is we have all been marked forever by the Lord. It is a reminder of whose we are. We have been marked by the Lord for a life of surrender to the will of God. We have been marked by the Lord for a life of giving ourselves away, not only to God, but to others. We remind ourselves during Lent that we have been set free from the bondage of the material world so that we can live a life of servitude in the presence of the Lord. I pray that each of you will be looking with anticipation to the season of Lent and the opportunities it gives us to prepare ourselves anew or to repair our hearts for the journey of faith that is the Way of the Lord.