yearA ascension mothersday

This week's Sermons:

       Luke 24:44-53 - Ascension:  A Happy Ending
       Romans 16:13  - Mother's Day
       2 Kings 4:8-26 - Is It Well With Your Family?

Sermon for 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 their tremendous impact.

3. Third, mothers should be saluted because where they are that is where home is.


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Sermon for Mother's Day - 2 Kings 4:8-26: I am going to read a quote to you first and then tell you who said it: A small child waits with impatience the arrival home of a parent. She wishes to relate some sandbox experience. She is excited to share the thrill that she has known that day. The time comes; the parent arrives. Beaten down by the stresses of the workplace the parent often replies: “Not now, honey, I’m busy, go watch television.” The most often spoken words in the American household today are the words: go watch television. If not now, when? Later. But later never comes for many and the parent fails to communicate at the very earliest of ages. We give her designer clothes and computer toys, but we do not give her what she wants the most, which is our time. Now, she is fifteen and has a glassy look in her eyes. Honey, do we need to sit down and talk? Too late. Love has passed by.

The person who wrote these words was Robert Keeshan, better known to America as Captain Kangaroo.


I think Keeshan was on to something. There are many things in life that cause stress. But there are few that can break the heart like the loss of a child. To be sure there are many ways to lose children. We can lose them by a tragic death. We can lose them due to broken relationships. And, we can lose them by failing to develop the strength of character in them that they will need to resist evil. Elisha did not know what had happened but he guessed something was not right; otherwise, she would not be traveling to find him. Elisha sent his servant out to greet this well-to-do-woman with three questions: Is it well with you? Is it well with your husband? Is it well with your child?


On this Mother's Day 2005 I would suggest to you that these three questions are as relevant today as they were when they were first spoken almost 3000 years ago. Let us take a look at this story and the three questions it raises.


1. Is it well with you?

2. Is it well with your husband?

3. Is it well with your child?

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Sermon for Ascension Sunday: He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” This is what we recite weekly in the Apostles’ Creed. But what do we really know about the Ascension. In the church we spend surprisingly little time on the events of Jesus life following the resurrection, particularly the Ascension.


The ascension was that time when Jesus visibly departed from his disciples and came into the presence of God the Father. It represented the culmination of his earthly ministry. The ascension was the day of transition. When the Jesus of the earth became the Jesus of heaven. Interestingly, on no less than four occasions our Lord had foretold this event to the disciples.


At first glance then the title of this morning’s message, “A Happy Ending,” may seem somewhat inaccurate. Can there be any more powerful an experience in life than having to depart from somebody you love. You have seen many news stories lately of young soldiers boarding boats and planes leaving behind their spouses, the agony that those two young people experienced written all over their faces. With tears in their eyes they embrace and give a parting farewell. I suppose the hardest thing in the world is to say goodbye to somebody you love.


With that in mind you might suspect the story of the ascension to be a rather sad one. Jesus was now going away, never to be seen by the disciples again. We rather suspect that they will turn homeward with heavy steps. How astonishingly then are the words of the Gospel of Luke: And Jesus departed from them. And they returned from Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the Temple praising God.


The question I would like to deal with this morning is “What meaning does the ascension have for our lives?” Many of us are willing to affirm a creed and let our faith rest there. Many Christians have in essence done just that but there are many, I feel, who have a need to go on and attempt to translate the biblical material about the ascension into a statement that will be of practical help to us in our daily lives. This morning I would like to share with you three ways in which the ascension has meaning for us.


1. First, through it we can learn to depend upon God without being dependent upon Him.

2. Second, the ascension says that heart of life there is mystery.

3. Third, it says that God has resources for each of us that he has not yet revealed.

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What Is Unique About Christianity?

The story of Jesus sitting and debating the Law with rabbis reminds me of another debate that took place in a comparative religions conference, the wise and the scholarly were in a spirited debate about what is unique about Christianity. Someone suggested what set Christianity apart from other religions was the concept of incarnation, the idea that God became incarnate in human form. But someone quickly said, “Well, actually, other faiths believe that God appears in human form.” Another suggestion was offered: what about resurrection? The belief that death is not the final word. That the tomb was found empty. Someone slowly shook his head. Other religions have accounts of people returning from the dead.

Then, as the story is told, C.S. Lewis walked into the room, tweed jacket, pipe, armful of papers, a little early for his presentation. He sat down and took in the conversation, which had by now evolved into a fierce debate. Finally during a lull, he spoke saying, “what's all this rumpus about?” Everyone turned in his direction. Trying to explain themselves they said, “We're debating what's unique about Christianity.” “Oh, that's easy,” answered Lewis, “it's....


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