Below is an essay that I sent to those on the Cove Presbyterian Church e-mailing list. You can hear a podcast of this message by going to the Cove Presbyterian Podbean page. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information.
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Sunday is Mother’s Day. And so, this morning as I was looking for a graphic to put in the bulletin, I ran across a little saying by Tenneva Jordan. “A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.”
Now I don’t know about you, but I really found that to be a powerful statement. And even though I know that doesn’t apply to all mothers much less people, I was blessed that it does apply to my mom. You see, although she never announced it or sought praise for it, I now understand all that she sacrificed for my brother, sister and I. Over and over again she put herself second so that we might come first. And I’ll tell you, I see this same willingness to sacrifice in my wife’s relationship with our daughter. You see, they both focused their time and attention on their children. And they both considered the needs of another before their own wants. And they both took that precious and limited commodity called time, something they could have used for themselves, and they gave it to us. And they did it without seeking thanks or praise. Instead, they put us first, because they loved and love us, maybe even more than themselves. Now that’s what my mom did for me and my wife does for Maggie, and for that I’m truly thankful.
But having said that, it seems to me that this is really what Jesus calls us all to do. I mean, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus said to the crowd and to his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.” And a little later, he said, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.”
In other words, following Christ isn’t about getting; rather, it’s about giving. It’s not about clawing to become first; rather, it’s about putting ourselves last. And it certainly isn’t about making sacrifices so that in the end we’ll come out on top; rather, it’s about making sacrifices because that’s the right thing to do now. Somehow really good mothers understand this as they look toward their children. And maybe it’s something we can all include in our vision as we look toward the neighbors that God has called us to love.
In a few days, we’ll have the chance to remember our mothers. And like I said, I was both lucky and blessed, because I can not only remember, I can also celebrate two women who were and are examples of the kind of lives that we all have been called to live. But if I’m serious about this celebrating business, I can also make the decision to incorporate some of these sacrificial qualities in my own life and to apply them as I life with the human family with whom God has surrounded me. And then, who knows, when confronted with the chance to sacrifice for my brothers and sisters, I might also say that I never did care for pie.