As a parent now, I have come to understand the definition of love, joy, and motherhood very differently than I used to, which means when I think of celebrating Mother’s Day, I understand it as honoring more than just the act of having given birth. Mother’s Day is about the love of mothers and that love is very complex and very much mirrors the love that Jesus is asking his disciples to live, and by extension each one of us, in our daily lives.
This type of love isn’t just about cuddling babies. It is expressed in the daily sacrifices that we as mothers do without a second thought. I have ruminated on what has changed in my everyday life since becoming a parent. This love is defined by the actions that we do. I used to make dinner and then sit down in the evenings and read and relax. Now I make dinner, sometimes two of them, we sit as a family and while everyone else is eating I am feeding Isaac, cleaning up spills, and trying to find time for myself to eat. I clean up, put the two kids to bed, clean up the floors, finish the dishes, make the kid’s lunches for the next day, take something out of the freezer for tomorrow’s dinner, then I clean up their toys, and I may be finished by 8PM if I am really on task. Then I might sit down read for a while and go to bed myself.
If I am lucky the kids sleep through the night. If not, I am getting up 1 to 2 times a night to take care of them and then I get up in the morning to dress the kids, drag Maddie out of bed kicking and screaming sometimes, feed them, pack their school bags, write notes to their teachers, and then I take care of my own needs once they are off to school. I find that without a second thought, I am often sacrificing meals, coffee, and sometimes it feels like sanity. But I do so because I love my children so intensely that I couldn’t even imagine doing something different because I get so much joy watching my children grow and learn. This has inspired in me a new-found respect for my own mother and grandmother who both did this with more children and for all mothers out there.
This is the type of love that Christ talks about in the passages from this morning. It is a love that transcends selfishness, a love that is self-sacrificing, intentional, and non-resentful and one that when lived promises to teach us a new form of joy, a divine joy in watching someone else thrive because of our work. As believers in Christ, we are called to this type of love for our neighbors, a motherly type of love, a divine type of love. The love we received from God through Christ is a love that transcends all human experience because of its sacrificial nature. God gave us the ultimate gift in sacrificing his only son for our relationship with him. Christ gave the ultimate gift in choosing to honor this request of God. This was the ultimate act of selfless love and it would become a love that many of his disciples would have to decide to do themselves.
They all chose the love of God acted out in this world over their own comforts, cares, and even over their own lives. These acts of love are a gift to us today for more reasons than just the typical idea of salvation. This gift teaches us valuable lessons for how we are called to enact God’s will in the church, in community, in our personal lives, and in the world at large. Christ didn’t think twice about his sacrifice and the gift he was then offering to humanity. He gave of himself with joy. That is the same joy we too are offered when we accept the life of living into this divine love. Khalil Gibran, a 20th century Lebanese American writer, poet, and philosopher says, “There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward”.
We are called to all enter into this divine joy by sharing of the gift of love, divine love, a healing love, a love that transcends hurts, grudges, and pains because this love is too precious not to be shared with all people. And all people, ourselves include, desperately need to feel such a selfless love in our lives. So, if we want to feel that love then we need to live that type of love. As believers in Christ, this is what he has asked of us. He said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete”.  We are asked not only to share in the sacrificial love but to also share of the joy that loving others grows inside us. So this week, go forth and engage in intentional acts of love toward another person and see how the joy of God grows inside of you and in turn watch that joy pass to other people brightening their days and encouraging God’s peace to grow in a world that is too focused on pain, loss, and revenge.
 Khalil Gibran, 20th century write, poet, and philosopher.
 John 15: 9-11, NRSV.
(Based on John 15:9-17)