Worship Service for the 6th Sunday of Easter

Hi everyone!

Here is the video for our worship service for May 9, 2021, the 6th Sunday of Easter! You can find our worship bulletin here.
The worship bulletin will have the order of worship, the words of the liturgy, and the page/hymn numbers corresponding with the Now the Feast and Celebration booklet and the Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal, and the sermon in full. The words that you need to know will also be on your screen and the sermon manuscript is included on this page below the worship video.

If you would like a more enhanced at home worship experience, you can have a few things in your space. A bowl of water for the Thanksgiving for Baptism, something small to eat and drink for communion, and a lit candle for the service. How to use them will either be explained in the service through instruction or example.

Thanks for joining us! May God’s love shine in and through you and your community now and forever!

If the video is not working, please click here.

O God, pour your Spirit upon us, that we could be nourished by your Word and abide in your love, through Jesus Christ, our brother and friend.  Amen.

Today is Mother’s Day, a day when we celebrate the mothers of the world and in our lives, whether they be our own mothers, our grandmothers, our aunts, sisters, daughters, or our very selves.  We celebrate the maternal love mothers give their children.  We celebrate the very important role that mothers play in the lives of those in their care.  We celebrate the role that women play in the life of society, bringing a perspective that might compliment, contrast, or contest the male perspective, depending on what we’re talking about.

But in recent years, we’ve been getting warnings against celebrating Mother’s Day too hard.  We were warned that celebrating Mother’s Day might be triggering to those who aren’t mothers, who don’t have mothers, or perhaps had abusive mothers.  We were asked to tread lightly and be aware that everyone’s situation is different and so this day would mean different things for different people.  I’ve even seen memes on social media talking about how this day can actually be offensive to others so we really should think twice about how we commemorate this day, especially at church.

And I admit, I did curb my enthusiasm for Mother’s Day.  I changed the language, I made concessions, I compromised in order not to offend.  To be honest though, I still don’t want to offend, but at the same time, I do want to commemorate mothers and their contribution to the family, to the community, and to the world, because we all come from a mom somehow.

The thing is, when I was growing up, Mother’s Day was a big deal in our house.  My 3 siblings and I would do everything we could to make this day special for our mom, which mostly meant some kind of collaborative homemade card and some sort of gift.  Well, actually it was a card that my sister pretty much would make by herself and I would just put my name on it, and my other sister would figure out what to get our mom and I would pitch in my few dollars.  But hey, I tried at least. 

We wanted to show our appreciation for our mom because we knew our mom did a lot to raise us.  While my dad was the one who brought home the bacon so to speak, my mom did pretty much everything else.  So it was important for us to make sure that our mom knew that we see the work that she put into raising us, even though we didn’t always see eye to eye. But not once (I don’t think at least), was this celebration about our mom’s action of giving birth to us.  We didn’t talk about how we gestated in her womb for 9ish months.  We didn’t commemorate the hours of labour that she went through just to push the 4 of us out.

But we did celebrate her raising us.  We commemorated her many hours of sacrifice in ensuring that we were fed, well rested, and bathed.  We wanted to show our appreciation for the love that she showed us and continues to show us throughout our lives.

And so it seems really appropriate that on this Mother’s Day we get these texts that are all about love.  It seems appropriate that we get this scriptural basis for how we should treat each other with welcome, hospitality, and all that kind of stuff mothers seem to be able to instinctively do.  It seems appropriate that we celebrate not just mothers specifically for their having given birth, but for their Christ-like care, their Godly love and goodness, and divine wisdom and discernment.

See this passage that we get out of John is a portion of what we call the “farewell discourse,” which is basically Jesus saying goodbye to his disciples as he knew that his crucifixion was coming.  He didn’t want to leave them high and dry so he very lovingly gave them some comforting words of comfort, with the intention to comfort them and prepare them for the upcoming discomfort of seeing their mentor, teacher, Rabbi, be arrested and executed.

This part of the discourse is interesting as in most of it, Jesus describes his relationship with God and with them, his disciples.  But this part actually includes some instruction.  Jesus tells them to love.  And not just feel fuzzy feelings for other people, but to love and Jesus loves.  This means to love through action, through service, through laying down their very lives.

Wow, this just got real.

I mean, we know what Jesus did on the cross and all that, but to ask us to do it?  I don’t know.  Maybe some of us would be willing to die for others, like parents for their kids, or individuals for their significant others, or some kind of caregiver for those under their care.  But if we’re honest, I think our instinct of self-preservation would be really strong, perhaps overpowering our desire to follow Jesus’ command here.  The situation would have be pretty precise and exact, in that we would probably need a solid guarantee that our death won’t be vain, but that our sacrifice would mean someone else being saved from whatever it is that we’re trying to protect them from.

And that is the thing, our mind seems to always jump there, doesn’t it?  When we are asked to sacrifice, we think that the gains would have to be greater than the cost that we pay, or it’s just not worth it.  If we have to give, we need to ensure that we get as much or more for it to be a good deal.  If we’re expected to lay down our lives, then it better be earned or deserved.

But Jesus doesn’t put that kind of condition on it, does he?  He didn’t for himself, if you think about it.  Rather, he went and loved without any bounds, without any conditions, without any expectations.  See, we didn’t choose him, but he chose us.

So what then, are we supposed to just haphazardly give up our lives for others without any regard for ourselves?  Seems kind of irresponsible, doesn’t it?  Well, I don’t think that we’re talking about actually dying for someone else, although it might.  Let’s not forget that Jesus says this before he was arrested and crucified, before the disciples really were able to see the weight and extent of his sacrifice, before they would ever equate these words with actual death.  Instead, what I think Jesus meant by laying down one’s life was more of an emptying oneself; being able to let go of assumptions, opinions, and prejudices; and being humbled within in order to be fully present for the other.

You know, kind of like how a mother would love.

I know, not only mothers are capable of this love and I know many mothers aren’t capable of it.  But it is that kind of maternal love that I believe Jesus is talking about.  The kind of love we see in Peter as he baptizes a bunch of Gentiles even when it was against the custom at the time.  The kind of love we see in the gracious acts that deem all people worthy.  The kind of love that drives us to let go of our power, our privilege, and our pretensions, that room can be made for us of all walks, all skin tones, and all orientations to live not just in peace and harmony, but in the joy that is found in the name of Christ.

So I apologize if my saying “Happy Mother’s Day” is offensive to some of you.  I am sorry that those who find this day difficult continue to suffer whatever it is that makes this day difficult.  I mourn the fact that some of us have had bad experiences and have fallen victim to the sin that even mothers can have.  But this day isn’t to celebrate those experiences.  This day isn’t to commemorate the abuse and harassment.  This day isn’t to lift up the evils that people can commit and say that it is ok.  Rather this day is to remind us all of the wide and expansive love that mothers and all people are called to share; this love that brings us together as a community, joined with each other connected to the true vine; this love that we first received from Jesus, our Messiah and Lord, who chooses us first and has decided to call us his friends.

So as we approach the end of the Easter season, may we celebrate and be humbled by the love of God through Jesus our Messiah that has been shown to us through our mothers, through those who have given us motherly care, and those who exude that divine care.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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