Emmitsburg Council of Churches

 

John 13:31-35

When he had gone out, Jesus said, "Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 13:32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 13:33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, 'Where I am going, you cannot come.' 13:34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 13:35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

The Gospel of the Lord . . .


Mother's Cupboard: Our Spiritual Pantry

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 Mother's Day!)

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 Jesus,

"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.

Amen

Read more writings of Pastor Jon