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Sermon and Liturgy for The Sixth Sunday of Easter - Year A
(Mothers Day 1999)
I Peter 3:13-22 and John 14:15-21
"I Will Not Leave You"

READING:  I Peter 3:13-22 and John 14:15-21
SERMON :  "I Will Not Leave You"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-ea06sm 669000
     The following is a more or less complete liturgy and sermon
     for the upcoming Sunday.  Hymn numbers, designated as VU are
     found in the United Church of Canada Hymnal "Voices United".
     SFPG is "Songs For A Gospel People", also available from the UCC.
     The unison "Prayer of Invocation" and "The Prayers of the People"
     were sourced by Jenny Barbour of St. Andrew's United in Golden.

     Note that this Easter 6A sermon and liturgy were first prepared
     for use on Mothers Day (Christian Family Sunday) in 1999 and so
     has a lot of references to that occasion.  Nonetheless with the
     2002 addition of a "Creative Closing" and with your own adaptations
     of the basic theme of not being left alone you should be able to
     move in a direction that is appropriate for this year.
GATHERING AND MUSICAL PRELUDE                  (* = please stand)

L  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, 
   and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
P  And also with you.
L  Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth!
P  Sing to the honour of God's name.  
   Make glorious the praise of God.
L  How awesome are your deeds, O Lord!  
   So great is your strength, your foes will wilt before you.
P  All the world shall worship you.  
   All peoples shall sing to you and  praise Your name.

* INTROIT:  "This Is The Day"   (VU-412 Verse 1)
   Most Gracious Lord, Master, Messiah and Saviour of Humanity,
   we greet thee with all humility. 
   Thou art the first cause and the last effect, 
   the divine light and the spirit of guidance, alpha and omega.
   Thy light is in all forms, thy love in all beings: 
   in a loving mother, a kind father,
   in an innocent child, in a helpful friend, 
   and in an inspiring teacher. 
   Allow us to recognize thee in all thy holy names and forms. 
   May the message of God reach far and wide, 
   illuminating and making the whole of humanity 
   as one single family in the parenthood of God. Amen.

* HYMN:  "Jesus Stand Among Us"                          - VU 396


INTROIT For The Word of God (please stay seated):
  Open my ears, that I may hear voices of truth thou sendest clear;
  and while the wave notes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
  Silently now I wait for thee, ready, my God, thy will to see.
  Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!  (VU 371 v.2 & refrain)

A READING FROM I Peter 3:13-22
   (NRSV)(1 Pet 3:13-22 NRSV)  Now who will harm you if you are
   eager to do what is good? {14} But even if you do suffer for
   doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they
   fear, and do not be intimidated, {15} but in your hearts
   sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defence
   to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope
   that is in you; {16} yet do it with gentleness and reverence.
   Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned,
   those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be
   put to shame. {17} For it is better to suffer for doing good,
   if suffering should be God's will, than to suffer for doing
   evil. {18} For Christ also suffered for sins once for all,
   the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to
   God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the
   spirit, {19} in which also he went and made a proclamation to
   the spirits in prison, {20} who in former times did not obey,
   when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the
   building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons,
   were saved through water. {21} And baptism, which this
   prefigured, now saves you--not as a removal of dirt from the
   body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through
   the resurrection of Jesus Christ, {22} who has gone into
   heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels,
   authorities, and powers made subject to him.

L  This is the Word of the Lord
P  Thanks be to God.

CHILDREN'S TIME: "The Meanest Mother In The World"
Object    Gifts to be given later - tell story first
Theme     Honour Thy Father and Mother
Source    Written by Bobbie Pingaro, 1967 and used by Permission
          contact at "Louis A. Pingaro" 

I would like to start our time together today by reading you a
story called, "The Meanest Mother in the World" - and it was
written by a young mother way back in 1967 . It goes like this:

I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate
candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast. When others had
cokes and candy for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. As you can guess, my
supper was different than the other kids' also. But at least, I wasn't
alone in my sufferings. My sister and two brothers had the same mean
mother as I did. 

- paragraph omitted -

We had to wear clean clothes and take a bath. The other kids always wore 
their clothes for days. We reached the height of insults because she made
our clothes herself, just to save money. Why, oh why, did we have to have 
a mother who made us feel different from our friends? The worst is yet to 
come. We had to be in bed by nine each night and up at eight the next 
morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like our friends. So while they 
slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break the child-labor law. 
She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make beds, learn to cook and 
all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid awake at night thinking up 
mean things to do to us. She always insisted upon us telling the truth, 
the whole truth and nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and 
it nearly did. By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and 
our life became even more unbearable.

None of this tooting the horn of a car for us to come running. She
embarrassed us to no end by making our dates and friends come to the door
to get us. If I spent the night with a girlfriend, can you imagine she
checked on me to see if I were really there. I never had the chance to
elope to Mexico. That is if I'd had a boyfriend to elope with. I forgot to
mention, while my friends were dating at the mature age of 12 and 13, my
old fashioned mother refused to let me date until the age of 15 and 16.
Fifteen, that is, if you dated only to go to a school function. And that
was maybe twice a year.

Through the years, things didn't improve a bit. We could not lie
in bed, "sick" like our friends did, and miss school. If our friends
had a toe ache, a hang nail or serious ailment, they could stay home
from school. Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends'
report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for nothing
less than ugly black marks. As the years rolled by, first one and then the
other of us was put to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our
mother behind us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was
allowed the pleasure of being a drop-out. My mother was a complete failure
as a mother. Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher
education. None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his
mate. Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country.
And whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out? You're
right, our mean mother. Look at the things we missed. We never got to
march in a protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards,
and a million and one other things that our friends did. She forced us to
grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults. Using this as a
background, I am trying to raise my three children. I stand a little
taller and I am filled with pride when my children call me mean. Because,
you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in the whole world.

I too had a mean mother - and I am really grateful for her. 
Today is Mother's Day - a day that was started many years ago by
a Christian lady who wanted to honour her mother and all mothers
- and to make things a bit easier for them - to show respect for
them.  What are some of the things you are thankful to God for
because of your Mother..........

Name them aloud -- and allow this to be lifted up by us all in
prayer as you do this...  (THANKS RECEIVED)  ..."thank you God
for Understanding  ---- for love -- for forgiveness - for

   GIVING GIFTS  - Plants given to all Women in Congregation

   LET US PRAY:  "We thank you God - for our mothers -- and for
   those women who have touched our lives -- and shown us your
   life giving love.  -- Help us to honour them -- and to
   remember them in prayers -- each and every day. -- Amen."

*HYMN:  "Small Things Count"                             - VU 361

RESPONSIVE READING: Psalm 66:1-7 (VU 784, Pt I) & Sung Refrain


   (NRSV)  "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. {16}
   And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another
   Advocate, to be with you forever. {17} This is the Spirit of
   truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees
   him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you,
   and he will be in you. {18} "I will not leave you orphaned; I
   am coming to you. {19} In a little while the world will no
   longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also
   will live. {20} On that day you will know that I am in my
   Father, and you in me, and I in you. {21} They who have my
   commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those
   who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them
   and reveal myself to them."

L: This is the Gospel of our Risen Lord
P: Praise be to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

* HYMN:  "Our Parent By Whose Name"                      - VU 555

SERMON:  "I Will Not Leave You..."

       Sources: London Free Press, "Mother's Day Founder
       Not Big on Cards, Candy", Saturday, May 11, 1996;
       and "Angel Wings - devotion for May 9 1996 in "The
       Upper Room: May-June 1996"

   "Gracious God - bless now the words of my lips and the
   meditations of our hearts.  Breath your Spirit into us and
   grant that we may hear and in hearing be led in the way
   you want us to go.  Amen.

A little while back I brought a small sack of wildflower seeds to
church with me for the children's time -- wildflowers come in
many varieties and sizes -- one of them - a most beautiful one -
is called the yellow dead nettle or the "archangel". 

The archangel is a spectacular orange flower with a golden
coloured canopy that spreads over the top of it like an angel's
wing.  If it was a large hothouse flower - like an orchid - most
of you would no doubt rush out to buy it.  But it is so small
that you have to get down on your knees to see the glory of it.

This observation may also apply to spiritual things.  As humans
we are often attracted to what appears showy or grand.  But when
we are in a quiet, worshipful frame of mind - we are often more
aware of the great beauty in humble things.

Some things are best appreciated on our knees - 
   - not just the things of nature - where close examination can
   reveal God's attention to detail,
but also other people - people like our parents - like our
mothers whom we honour here today.

There are times when it is easy to appreciate our mothers -
   their virtues - their hard work - their care - and their love
   are vivid -
we need not get down on our knees to know that they are living
examples of God's love.

   But at other times it can be more difficult to appreciate and
   honour our mothers, more difficult to love them - like in
   times where separation and divorce has split up one's family
   in times when it seems that our mothers - or for that matter
   our fathers - have chosen their own course - their own way in
   life - and left us - their children - behind.

At such times it is hard to celebrate a day like today -
- hard because anger and pain and hurt get in our way 
- hard because we do not understand how it is that someone
who is supposed to love us has left us behind.

Sometimes it is not the separation and divorce of our parents
that causes us this kind of pain,
   sometimes it is something more basic - and more universal,
      sometimes death robs us, and we are left as orphans, we
       are left feeling alone; 
and though we know better, we can feel betrayed; and left, as it
were, holding the bag and not knowing what to do.

Such was the situation that Jesus addressed in speaking his
disciples the night before his death.

After a long time together - a time in which he nurtured and fed
and taught and loved his disciples - he announced to them that he
was leaving them; that to fulfill his destiny - he would allow
himself to be put to death.

It was - and is - a hard thing to grasp -
how a person could voluntarily leave those he loves
and the disciples resisted this idea 
- they did not want Jesus to leave them
- they did not want to have to face the future without his
guidance and his grace.

In today's reading Jesus told his disciples that when he left
them he would not leave them as orphans, but that he would come
back to them;
that while the rest of the world would not see him again -
   they would see him - 
that the Spirit of God would abide with them
   the Spirit of Counsel and of truth 
   the Spirit of love.

   "If you love me", he said, "you will obey what I command -
   and they who love me will be loved by my Father, and I too
   will love them, and show myself to them."

Some things are best appreciated on our knees 
-- and this is one of them.

Loving and obeying Christ, 
   - even when we don't understand what he is up to,
   - even when we are uncertain about what he has become and
   about just where he is located
   - even when we don't understand why he felt he had to leave
   us, why he had to die --
leads us to an understanding, to a feeling, to a conviction,
to an inner certainty that we are not alone 
- that in some fashion or other he is with us 
and there is comfort in this, 
there is a sense of wholeness given to us
   a sense that there is a light in the darkness, that
   everything is OK 
- and that in fact everything is going to work out well no
   matter what happens; no matter what the immediate future may
   bring to us.

As it is with Christ,
So it is with one another - and especially with our parents:
with those individuals that God commanded us to honour,
and promised to us that if we honour them, 
if we love them and showed them respect,
that we will live long and prosper in the land that Lord is
giving us.

The secret of what honouring is and what it involves is found in
the command that Jesus gave to his disciples; the command that
not only should we love one another, but that we should love them
as he loves us.

To love others - to love our parents - or our brothers and
sisters - or our neighbours - can be very hard at times.

As all of you here today know  it cost Jesus his life;
But he gave that love - he gave his life - willingly 
because it was what love demanded

In a Spiritual sense - love always demands that we give up our
lives,  that we give up our "selves"

To love as Jesus loves means quite simply that we will forgive
others the pain that they cause us;
   - that we will reach to bless those who seem indifferent to
   us, even hostile towards us;
   - that we will care even when we do not feel cared for;
   - that we will pray for others and seek the best for them,
   even when they seem bound to betray us, as Judas betrayed

To love someone else as Jesus loves us does not require that we
understand them;
   nor does it require that we approve of their actions or their
   lifestyle or their decisions;
       and it most certainly does not require that they love us,
       though it is alway very nice when they do.

To love someone as Jesus loves us, to obey Christ's command and
thereby discover that we are not alone, only requires that we
submit the feelings of our hearts and the attitudes of our minds
to the wisdom and the counsel of God.

As I have said twice now - and I repeat once again,
Some things are best appreciated on our knees.

Following and obeying Christ is the key to a life that is worth
the living,
   the key to never being alone,
   the key to knowing the comfort of the Spirit's presence,
      the Spirit that communicates the presence of both the
       Father and The Son;
the Spirit that leads us to the truth - and which is the truth -
the truth that sets us free.

     ** 2002 - see below for a link to George Hartwell's 
     Creative Closing which can end this sermon without
     further reference to Mother's Day - which in 2002
	 falls on Easter 7A **

The intention of the founder of the day called Mother's Day, was
that we set aside a special day to pay particular honour to our
mothers and by so doing encourage everyone to love their mothers
in concrete and tangible ways each and every day.

Miss Anna Jarvis, like her mother before her, was very concerned
about the neglectful treatment of mothers by their adult children
and she felt too that she had not done enough for her mother. 
After a long campaign, on May 10th, 1908, the third anniversary
of her mother's death, at Andrew's Methodist Church in Grafton,
West Virginia, the first official Mother's Day Service was held.

The theme of the service was love - Christian love - for our
mothers and for all women.

Concrete and tangible love honours our mothers -
whether they be with us - and we with them - in the same home, 
or whether they be in another home, or in another province,
or whether they be with God.

And love - concrete, tangible, love, 
be it the love that was commanded by God through Moses for
   our parents, or the love that was commanded by Jesus for one
comes to us with a promise -
the promise that we will live long and prosper
the promise that we will not be left as orphans,
but that God will be with us.

When God is with us - so are the saints above,
and all the saints here below.

On this Mother's Day,
and in all the days beyond it
love your mothers - and your fathers - and one another

Where there is pain - love them
Where there is laughter - love them
Where there is hurt - love them
Where there is joy - love them.

Always love them - and you will not be alone.
Angels will speak to you
God will whisper in your ear,
and the comfort that you, and indeed all of us - need, will come
upon you - and you will know the only truth that matters in the
the truth that gives you life and sets you free 
free to be what God intended you to be
even before the day you were first conceived.

Honour your mother and your father
Love one another as I have loved you
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.
Before long you will see me.  Because I live, you also will live.

Blessed be God, day by day, Amen

----  Check out George Hartwell's Creative Closings - Easter 6 - Year A 
for a different prayer or meditation with which to conclude the sermon 
and/or lead into the prayer time below.

HYMN: "Would You Bless Our Homes And Families"           - VU 556

   Send thy peace, O Lord, which is perfect and everlasting,
   that our souls may radiate peace.

   Send thy peace, O Lord, that we may think act and speak

   Send thy peace, O Lord, that we may be contented and
   thankful for thy bountiful gifts

   Send thy peace, O Lord, that amidst our worldly strife, we
   may enjoy thy bliss

   Send thy peace, O Lord, that we may endure all, tolerate
   all in the thought of thy grace and mercy

   Send thy peace, O Lord, that our lives may become a divine
   vision and in thy light, all darkness may vanish

   Send thy peace, O Lord, our father and mother, that we thy
   children may all unite in one family.   Amen.

* SHARING GOD'S BLESSINGS:  As the Offering is presented all
stand for the Doxology (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow -
VU 541) and Prayer of Dedication

              Gracious God - you have given us life and seen to
       our nurture through our mothers and fathers and
       through the love and labour of so many other people
       -- all that we have and all that we our, are in the
       end, a gift from you.   We praise and adore you -
       and offer you our tribute and our very selves - in
       the prayer that we might bless others as we have
       been blessed - and bring praise and glory to your
       eternal name.  Amen

* HYMN: "Now Thank We All Our God"                       - VU 236

* COMMISSIONING (Unison):  In the power of the Holy Spirit we now
   go forth into the world, to fulfil our calling as the people
   of God, the body of Christ.
Go in peace - 
knowing that you are never alone, 
that the eternal God and the risen Christ are with you in the
gentle touch of the Holy Spirit - and in the whisper of the
angels in the quiet depths of your hearts; 
and may the joy, the peace, and the love of all the saints above
communicate itself to you as you live and follow in the way of
our Saviour - both now and forevermore.  Amen

* CHORAL BLESSING:  "Go Now In Peace"                    - VU 964

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild - Spirit Networks, 1999 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.

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