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Learning Time for May 10, 2020: “The House of Love”
Lexie and I were out walking at about 8:30 one morning this week. It was cool, and there was a brisk wind, but the sun shone bright on Kingsville’s quiet streets. As we turned a corner, something did not look quite right. A little girl, perhaps 3 or 4 years old, her long blonde hair wild and loose, and wearing what looked like a long pyjama top, or t-shirt, ran barefoot up the sidewalk, chasing after a taller, darker haired version of herself. We guessed they were sisters.
Looking up and down the street we saw no adult with these little ones. The smaller girl fell further behind her sister, who I’d estimate was maybe 6 years old. There were other people on the street. A woman crossed the road to ask if the kids were with us. We spotted another neighbour with a cellphone at her ear, and wondered if she was calling the police.
We couldn’t be sure, so we dialed 911, and Lexie told the dispatcher what we were seeing. The older girl had gone around a corner, and was now out of sight. The little one turned back toward us. It seemed like she’d given up on catching her sister.
As Lexie spoke to the dispatcher, a taxi van with a local name painted on the back pulled up close to the lone little girl, and the driver’s side power door opened. The girl looked towards the van. We were too far away to hear the words exchanged. The little one got in, and van the door powered shut. The taxi van turned the corner, in the direction we’d seen the older girl go.
Moments later, the van appeared a few houses behind us, having made a loop around the block, and pulled into a driveway. The van backed out, rolled down the street, and parked in another driveway.
By then, the police had arrived. Lexie was still on the phone with the dispatcher, who’d had a colleague contact the taxi company. It was confirmed the driver knew the girls, and had brought them home. We continued our walk, trusting the officer in the cruiser, now parked in front of that house, would sort things out.
We live in this strange time in which home has become, for many of us, our total geography. I talk with people who look at the same walls, the same few rooms, the exact same yard, day after day. Some folks still go to work, and some get out for groceries. Children are out of school, and can’t have play-dates. They’ve not been able to use parks or playgrounds.
I can totally understand the girls wanting to slip out the front door, and run down the street. Lexie and I go for walks, partly for exercise, but also for a change of scenery. I hope the little girls were just out for an around the block adventure. I pray all they were running from was the feeling of being stuck inside the same walls. I worry there might be something more. It still bothers me that no parent appeared on the street, wondering where their girls had gone.
It’s Mother’s Day weekend. There is a tendency at this time of year to glorify, and mythologize the role mothers play in our world. It sometimes seems motivated by guilt. Our society takes the hard work, the sacrifice, the difficulties mothers face, for granted, and once a year, we have this day.
This year has become even more challenging, especially for mothers of school age kids. Some are doing their own paid jobs from home, while also juggling home schooling, meal planning and prep, the regular chores, and trying to keep everyone in the house healthy, entertained, and in positive humour. I don’t mean to suggest their partners are not on board. In many houses, it’s a team effort. Even so, many mothers have a lot to deal with.
Add in worries about money, and job loss, and the economic down-turn, the health and well-being of friends and relatives we can’t visit, the anxiety caused by neighbours and others who ignore social distancing rules, and it’s just a hard, hard time. We turn on the news, or read posts on social media, and a lot of what we see and hear doesn’t help.
Our church put an ad in the Happy Mother’s Day section of the Harrow News, that says “God Bless All the Moms” Especially the Front-Line Workers and those now working even harder running home schools, on top of everything!”
Happy Mother’s Day. There was a movement a few years ago to re-brand Mother’s Day as Christian Family Sunday. Churches like to try to take secular, worldly occasions, and appropriate for our own purposes.
When the Christian missionaries moved into Europe they saw that local folks had a big rowdy Winter Solstice festival near the end of the year. It went by different local names, but was basically rooted in the anxiety that as the days got shorter and shorter, the nights longer and longer, the sun might disappear altogether, and never return.
The early church did not like all the risqué end of the world partying, or the folk magic practiced in efforts to entice the sun to return. The church tried and failed to stamp out the parties. In its wisdom, the church baptized and converted the festivals into a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and Christmas in December became a thing.
How do we celebrate Mother’s Day, when sometimes it feels like we are like those scared tribes of Europe seeing glimpses of the end of the world?
Both scriptures today make use of the image of a house. At a time of great anxiety for the disciples, just hours before Jesus was arrested, he shared a meal with his friends, that we call the last supper. Jesus knew his inner circle was worried, and wondering what was ahead for them. Jesus talked about how God would always be there for them, and how nothing that happened in this world, in this life, could separate them from God, and God’s love. Jesus talked about a dwelling place where there was room enough for them all. In the King James Version, it says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions”, which conveys the extraordinary lavishness of this promise.
In the part of the world where Jesus and his followers lived, most people lived in simple, four-walled structures, about 24 feet square. Within those tiny homes would be space for a whole family to do their cooking and eating, sleeping, and also to stable their animals. The idea of a house big enough for all God’s children, would be almost unimaginable to Jesus’ friends- but also, an ultimate symbol of generosity, hospitality, and love. A great big house of love.
Today we also heard a reading from the first letter of John, written to followers of Jesus who were living in hard times. Their Jewish neighbours saw them as heretics who’d wandered from the true faith. The Roman colonizers persecuted them for failing to follow the official state religions, and call the emperor their Lord. There was disagreement amongst the Jesus followers, disputes about theology that threatened to divide their community.
To help them in their troubles, the writer of 1st John reminded his people that although no one has ever seen God, ever, if we love each other, God dwells deeply within us, and God’s love becomes complete in us. The Greek word for love in his passage is “Agape”, the highest form of love. This is love that is prepared to sacrifice for the good of others. Love that puts personal comfort, desire, pride, ego aside, in favour of what is best for someone else.
The writer went on to say, “God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear.”
There is so much in those words for us. We need our homes to be safe places, from which no one feels the need to run away. We need to be good to each other, patient with each other, in these tough and confusing times. We need to be good to the moms, not just this weekend, but all the time.
There are still things happening in the world, over which we have little or no control. Like those folks in ancient European tribes, we are hoping and praying, and holding on for the end of the dark times, for the sun to return. The best antidote we have against fear- is love. Love that is selfless, and self-giving, that concerns itself most with how others are doing. We need for love to have the run of our house. Amen
Prayers for May 10, 2020
In addition to our ongoing prayers for all those affected by the pandemic, today is a day to offer special prayers:
God of Love, on this day set aside to honor and remember mothers, we give you thanks for our mothers. We are grateful you chose to give us life through them, and that they received the gift of life from you, and gave it to us. Thank you for the sacrifices they made in carrying us and giving us birth.
We thank you for the women who raised us. Whether birth mother, adopted mother, older sister, aunt, grandmother, stepmother or someone else, we thank you for those women who held us and fed us, who cared for us and kissed away our pain. We pray that our lives may reflect the love they showed us, and that they would be pleased to be called our mothers.
We pray for mothers whose children are grown.
We pray for new mothers experiencing changes they could not predict.
We pray for pregnant women who are anticipating motherhood.
We pray for mothers who face the demands of single parenthood.
We pray for mothers who enjoy financial abundance.
We pray for mothers who are raising their children in poverty.
We pray for mothers who are doing their best to love their children, and care for them, in these current strange times.
We pray for step-mothers.
We pray for mothers who are separated from their children.
We pray for mothers who gave up their children for adoption.
We pray for adoptive mothers.
We pray for children and mothers for whom family relationships have been challenging, difficult, or even unworkable.
We pray for girls and women who think about being mothers.
We pray for women who desperately want, or wanted, to be mothers.
We pray for all women who have assumed the mother’s role in a child’s life.
We pray for those who grieve the loss of their mother.
Grant them hope in the Easter story of life and death and life beyond death.
Grant them comfort that all those who have live died are held safely God’s loving embrace, in that house with many rooms.
We offer our prayers in the name of Mary’s son, Jesus, and we continue with the prayer he taught:
The Lord’s Prayer: (spoken together)
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
forever and ever. Amen
Announcements for May 10, 2020
Happy Mother’s Day! Even under our current conditions, we hope and pray that every mother knows they are appreciated, remembered and loved.
The Board decided to schedule another Drive Thru Food Drive, which will happen from 10 am-12 noon, on Friday, June 5.
Thank you to Dennis Graham, John Woodbridge, Larry Anderson, and the Virtual Choir, for all the work they do to make these worship resources possible.
Here are some statistics from www.revdarrow.com where we post the printed version, and a link to the Youtube-hosted video of our weekend worship resource:
March 22 230 views
March 29 142 views
(April 5) Palm Sunday 293 views
Good Friday 235 views
(April 12) Easter Sunday 254 views
April 19 112 views (YouTube counted 90 views of the video)
April 26 170 views (YouTube counted 127 views of the video)
May 3 124 views (YouTube counted 101 views of the video)
It appears that about 20% of those who use our worship resource read the print version of the service, and do not click to watch the video.
We have had people looking at our worship resource from twenty countries, including Canada, U.S., India, Singapore, Japan, China, the U.K., the Philippines, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Ireland, France, Australia, South Africa, Germany, Romania, Kenya, Argentina and Russia.
In March, our top three countries were Canada, the United States, and India. In April, our top three countries were Canada, the United States and Singapore. So far in May, the top three are Canada, the United Kingdom, and a tie between the United States and Germany.