Year C Easter 6 Romans 16
Mother's Day
Romans 16

I must candidly confess that when I was in seminary the 16th chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans didn't do much for me. It struck me as being boring nothing more than a long presentation of people's names, most of whom I could not pronounce; I usually skimmed over that part so I could get to what I considered to be the real Gospel. Over the years I have greatly changed my attitude about this particular chapter and I have discovered that there is much more to it than I had first imagined. For example, it is interesting to note that of the twenty-six people who Paul singles out for his personal greeting, six were women. Now that strikes me as being rather interesting, since Paul has frequently gotten a bum rap for being a male chauvinist. I think it also shows us the tremendous influence that women had in the early church. In the male oriented first century Palestine, it is telling that Paul could not describe the church without mentioning the significant role of women.

Verse 13 of chapter 16 is particularly interesting and it is one that scholars have struggled with over the centuries. Paul writes: "Give my greetings to Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine." Now this statement could be taken two ways. It could mean that Paul had two distinct women in mind--the mother of Rufus and his own personal mother. Or, he could be saying: "I salute Rufus and his mother, who is like a mother to me." If that is what he meant, and most Biblical scholars agree that that is indeed what he meant, then it raises some interesting speculation. When and where did Paul meet Rufus' mother? Did she nurse him through some serious illness?

Did she receive him into her home for an extended stay during his missionary journeys? How did this woman and Paul form such a close bond that he refers to her fondly as being like his mother? Mark tells us that Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus cross, had two sons: Alexander and Rufus. Was this the same Rufus to whom Paul was speaking? If that is true, his mother would be Simon of Syrene's wife. No one knows for sure who this remarkable woman was who served as a mother figure for the great Paul. But it really makes no difference, because what he writes makes an excellent springboard for a Mother's Day sermon.

Some people ridicule Mother's Day as a lot of sentimental drivel. They say that it is nothing more than the creation of the greeting card companies and the florists. And, to be perfectly candid, there are many ministers who shun this day because, they say, it is not a religious holiday. Furthermore, they preach from the lectionary, which has an assigned scriptural reading each week, and therefore mother's day is left out.

Well, of course, we must admit that there is sentiment to this day, but what is wrong with that? Seems to me that a little bit of sentiment is healthy. True enough, there are some women in the Bible, such as Jezebel and the vindictive Herodias, who had John the Baptist beheaded, who tarnish the institution of motherhood. There are women today who abandon, abuse, and corrupt their children and who create a poor model, but I like to think that these are the exceptions. Most mothers do the right thing and deserve recognition. So this morning I would like to join Paul and salute all of the mothers who are with us.

  1. First, mothers should be saluted for their tenacious love.
  2. Secondly, mothers should be saluted for the tremendous impact they have.
  3. Third, mothers should be saluted because where they are, that is where home is.

Condition Yellow Christians
John 5:1-9

In every family album, there is always the same picture. It's one of the most prized photographs in every collection. It features one of the most joyous, unforgettable moments in any parent's life. It's the moment when that first child, your tiny, newborn baby, is gently placed in your arms.

As you look at your child, such tremendous emotions crowd your heart and mind — love, hope, joy, gratitude, peace, anticipation, wonder. But there is one more revelation that new Moms and Dads don't usually expect.

Looking at your child, you suddenly realize you will never, ever again have a completely worry free moment in your entire life. You may have even thought: "I shall never sleep again ... at least not like I've slept in the past."

There is now someone outside of yourself whom you will always have a responsibility for, a connection with. No matter if your child is eight or thirty-eight, five or fifty-fifty, or seventy-five, the joy and the worry, the delight and the distress, will be there every day, for the rest of your life, forever.

That new worry-condition shows up when you bring that beautiful new baby home "home." "Home" is no longer the safe, welcoming haven it used to be. In fact, from your new perspective as parent, "home" is now a death trap.

"Home" can never be "home" again until it is as "baby-proofed" as possible. Electrical outlets must be plugged. Cupboard doors and drawers must be fitted with safety latches. Baby gates and stairway netting, pool alarms and doorknob covers, are all vitally necessary. But even as you put up new cordless blinds and nail tippy furniture to the wall, you realize no place, no home, not school, not the car, not the mall, not the playground, can ever be made wholly safe.

As a parent you cannot change the world to make it safe. But parenthood changes your perception of the world. Instead of cruising through life preoccupied and blissfully unobservant, a new vigilance asserts itself. Parenthood moves you from coasting in "Condition White" to living a "Condition Yellow" life.

Long before Homeland Security instituted a color chart for national airport security alerts, Jeff Cooper devised a scale of "urban readiness," of personal preparedness in all situations that he called the Color Code. Cooper suggests that there are four different levels of attentiveness, of mental alertness — white, yellow, orange, and red. As the colors intensify so does a person's alertness of and preparation for a "fight or flight" response.

Condition White describes someone who is out of touch, unconcerned, self-absorbed, generally clueless about what is going on around them.

Condition Yellow describes someone who is generally alert, always checking their environment, keeping an eye out for surprises and needs. presents Leonard Sweet