Mother’s Day is a time when we honor and remember the influence that our mothers have had on our lives. However, I fully recognize that for many people this relationship may not have been defined by love, support, nurture, and care. Traditionally these are the terms that are associated with motherhood. So this morning, I would like to urge you to think about those people in your lives that have held that role. It may be your mother, a grandmother, an aunt, or someone from your community. This love and nurture is an important part of what it means to be Christian.
Growing up my mother offered me support, encouragement, love, and care throughout my life. When I was 11 years old and I got my first bike. My mother worked hard to teach me how to ride that bike. I remember lacking confidence and being fearful of falling and getting hurt. She always had a positive word about being able to do it if I worked at it. I remember one day as I practiced riding this bike in the yard, I was riding down a hill and realized that I was going to ride directly head first into a tree. I did not want to get hurt. So instead of using the breaks, I thought the wisest thing to do was to leap off of the bike as it was moving. Naturally, this was a poor decision. The pedal caught hold of the skin on my shin and ripped it off. This resulted in plenty of tears. Have I told you I was a bit dramatic? My mother helped me up and asked “Well why didn’t you use the breaks?!” She then gently washed out my wounds and patched me up with some Band-Aids.
But she also made sure that that wasn’t the last time I rode that bike. She told me I had to get back on and learn to use those breaks. Getting hurt was not a reason to stop learning something that was important. And she was there with me as I learned. She was by my side the whole way ready to pick me up and patch me up when I got hurt, which was often. This is the same type of love that we are to offer one another in the Christian community, a type of love that is patient even when frustration exist; a type of love that works with us and offers forgiveness and encouragement when needed; a love that does not let each other give up when life gets challenging and when we fail. It is a love whose resulting actions generate love in the community, in our lives, and in our world.
This is the type of love that is frequently spoken about in the Bible. It is a love that is holy and is the evidence of the presence of God. It is a love we work at together and daily practice we participate in so it becomes a natural part of who we are. It is one that we don’t give up on when challenges and failures abound. We are to encourage forgiveness and then the confidence enough to keep trying. We are to live life embracing one another: fellow church members, friends, family, and enemies alike with nurture, with love, with care, just as a mother has for us, and just as God does for us. As 1 Peter 3 suggests this will encourage peace in our lives, in our world, and in our communities.
When going out into the world, when interacting with one another, when frustrations arise and fears persist let us remember the words of Dorothy Day, “We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community”. If we work together to let those godly lessons we attribute to motherhood, to persist in our everyday, in our everyday actions then together we provide a place of comfort, safety, peace, love, and nurture in the world, we create that community that we all can turn to in our times of need. We create a community that embraces the world and through love creates something better.
The epistle that is attributed to Peter reminds us, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble”. By these actions, the apostle was hoping to help those earliest Christians to take control of their lives away from the violence of a world that dealt in retribution and to find comfort and safety in the arms of the community of Christ. So too in a world still torn and ruled by conflict, we are called to step away from blame and retribution and to embrace the maternal love of God in our daily lives, in our decision, in our actions and to treat those we meet in and out of our community with nothing but love and respect. In so doing, we take the power away from those who would cause pain and we create a happier life for all.
Our challenge this mother’s day, is to remember God’s love, so often reflected in our lives through maternal love, and to honor it by working to live our lives into that care, into that level of forgiveness, acting with the same nurture in the world and in the lives of others. In so doing we might just generate a type of love that builds a stronger community of believers, better relationships, and a more caring world that acts first upon love and not upon the violence, hate, and judgment that tends to define world relations. This is the call of the Christian life. This is the challenge that God places before us. It is up to us to reflect the maternal love of God in our every day in such a way that the love of God becomes evident in our actions and in our words. And in so doing bringing healing, wholeness, and hope to all those who find themselves in need and hopefully making vengeance, hate, and violence a thing of the past.
 Dorothy Day, 20th century American Journalist and Social Activist.
 1 Peter 3: 8, NRSV.
(Based on Acts 7: 55-60 and 1 Peter 3: 8-18)