This being Mother's Day . . . It seems good and fitting that we
should reflect for a few moments on the invaluable gift that our
Mothers have been to us all!
What is a mother? I don't even know where to begin. Perhaps it
is appropriate to begin at the beginning – We all have a mother!!
She is the one who carried us for 9 months and gave us birth into
the world. She then nurtured us by her caring hands, feeding us
with rich food so that we would grow healthy and strong. With her
patient demeanor she changed endless diapers, taught us our first
words, cleaned up after our spilled milk and carried us into the
stores and shops were she procured the numerous goods and serviced
our families needed. Our Mothers have been our life givers
(of course, Dads are also – but today we're celebrating
Something I read from Emilie Barnes book entitled A Different
Kind of Miracle, recently reminded me what my Mother and
Grandmother taught us kids about keeping a well-stocked kitchen.
From the chapter entitled: "The Cupboard's Not Bare", Mrs. Barnes
describes how when she was growing up, the family was quite poor
and there were times when the cupboard was barren of any food
items. Times were hard, her mother had stretched the family's food
supply as far as it could go – and there was nothing left to eat.
However, in spite of the cupboard being bear, Mrs. Barnes writes:
"Mother worked day and night to keep the family's body and soul
together – and Mother always managed to feed us in spite of the
cupboard becoming empty -- save a few potatoes and a box of tea."
Mrs. Barnes' mother had discovered the secret of frugality. Do
what you can with what you have on hand. From this lesson Mrs.
Barnes developed the habit of (in more prosperous times) stocking
one's kitchen cabinets with wholesome foods so that there would be
plenty in times of hardship or famine. She writes, "I have always
loved the idea of a well stocked, well-organized cupboard. I love
being able to open the doors and find an array of neatly arranged
boxes and containers holding, not only dog bones (milk bones), but
also rice, pasta, legumes and spices and canned vegetables and
fruits. Everything I need to put together an appealing and
nourishing meal on the spur of the moment."
I remember going to grandma's house and when going down the
cellar steps you had to watch your head . . . . because on several
shelves that lined the top of the stairway (causing you to bend
over as you descended the steps) Grandma had many-many cans and
boxes of food stored for emergency use.
If there was to be a blizzard or a flood or some other calamity
– if you were at Grandma's house -- there was no need to worry!!
There would be plenty of delicious home canned produce as well as
soups, meats, and sweets – you would not go hungry!
My mother also has a wonderful kitchen cupboard. In fact, Mom
had it specially built when my parents built the family home 40
years ago. Mom's kitchen cupboard is a double closet, that is,
when you open the first set of doors, which are each lined with
shelves and which expose shelves along the back wall. Then the
back wall itself opens up to expose another set of shelves which
contain more goodies – sometimes Mom would hide the sweets in this
back pantry, naturally it became the first place to check when we
kids were following the desires of the sweet tooth!! Nevertheless,
Mom's pantry has always been a kind of witness to her love and
caring for the family as well as her love of entertaining guests
with the most delectable foods and cooking.
Emilie Barnes wants us to remember how her mother's cupboard
supplied the needs of the family in good times and in hard times,
and so she continued that tradition in her home. But Emilie's use
of the kitchen cupboard can also become an analogy for the
necessary stocking of our spiritual shelves. We must keep the
cupboards of our faith life from becoming depleted! If you don't
stock the pantry of your faith, then there will not be ample
supply when your soul becomes empty, when your body is attacked by
a disease or when your spirit becomes hungry and thirsty.
In a very practical way, based on her own struggle with cancer,
Mrs. Barnes says that if you have never felt the hunger of the
spirit or the need of God's love and healing presence – don't
neglect your spiritual pantry because eventually -- hard times
will come and you don't want to be caught short in the hour of
your greatest need!!
From the Gospel of John we hear these words from our Lord
"I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just
as I have loved you, you also should love one another."
Here are words that are worthy of placing into our "spiritual
cupboard." If you have shelves that are stocked with the love of
your brothers and sisters then there will be sufficient grace and
good-will present when you reach your time of greatest need!
Here is the way to fill your shelves . . . . Go out and love
others as Christ has loved you. As a disciple of the Lord, we are
each called to love and serve one another with the same deep and
abiding love that God has given for us.
Most of us have known this kind of love and nurture as it was
expressed by our mothers. In addition, we were taught about kind
of love and nurture by the church. But over the years we have
neglected to get it off the shelf of our "spiritual pantry." In
fact, there may be cans or jars that have not been opened, but
have remained on the shelf since you were a newborn Christian!
Today, as you are thinking of Mom, it is also good to remember
that through your baptism, (the second birth!) You were made a
child of God, you and I were sealed by the anointing (oil) of the
Holy Spirit, and we were marked with the cross of Christ forever.
But if these ingredients of our faith have not been taken off the
shelf and brought into usage lately, then we are probably not
experiencing much joy or growth in our spiritual life and growth.
Today, Jesus encourages us to open up the spiritual pantries of
our lives and take one of those old cans off the shelf and serve
it to ourselves and others around us. If your not sure about the
dating on that "thing," then maybe it would be a good idea to take
home a fresh box or can from the lessons this morning!! Your
experience of the Holy Supper is also worth savoring, after all,
we are talking about a "spiritual pantry" here, so you needn't
worry if the supplies don't seem to fit in a bag or a box or a
jar. Savor God's Word in your heart, let It fill your mind, and
consider that when you partake of the Holy Supper, Christ is
coming to fill you with his presence and spirit – drawing you into
relationship and building you up.
When we begin to feed from the Love God has for us, then we
will be motivated to love and serve others around us. This is also
a lesson that our Mothers have taught us . . . You are what you
eat! Eat healthy food, your fruits and vegetables and you will be
healthy! Sharing from the abundance of God's love which you have
been blessed with will also encourage and strengthen others. You
will gain the blessing as you take in the love God has for you!
Take Mom's advice, "Keep your cupboards well-stocked, but don't
neglect what you have stored there. IF you are diligent to eat the
good foods you have stored while restocking the shelves with
healthy foods, then you will never be hungering or thirsting
excessively when times of need come. Remember to especially stock
up on the Love Christ has for you – then open a box or can of this
love – or take a package out of your "spiritual freezer" and
invite some friends or strangers (!) over to enjoy it with you.
Happy Mothers Day to all!! and May the Love of our Lord Jesus
Christ fill us to overflowing with his mercy and grace.
more writings of Pastor Jon