Rogate/Mother’s Day Sermon

For the first time in 14 years, my sermon on Mother’s Day actually mentions Mother’s Day.  Because it was District Convention this week, I didn’t have time to do the proper editing.  I gave it a run through this morning after printing, but then edited more from the pulpit.  While I wanted to honor mothers, and tie that into families and the wonderful gift we have of a true Father in our heavenly Father, I also didn’t want to exclude those who have no children.

The original didn’t quite do it.  I think the preached version did.  So today, I include both.  You can download and listen to the sermon while you read it, so that you can watch for the changes.  (The Manuscript is, as always, after the jump.)

Today – Rogate – day of prayer.

Traditionally – day to pray for good crops – day to pray Father that he would preserve us for another year.  Today we continue to pray for rain.  For we know that God is gracious and merciful, and that, in his time, he will send rain upon the earth to water it and bring forth life.

So, on this day of prayer, Jesus talks to disciples about prayer.

That prayer is done not just in Jesus name, but in Jesus name to the Father.

Jesus – tells disciples that when they pray in his name, it’s not just that he will then carry their prayers to the Father, but that Father himself will hear their prayer.  If the Father himself will hear the prayers of the people of god, then there is no need that we should go through other intermediaries, as if we need someone else to carry our prayer to God our Father.

Last week we heard that Jesus gives all that the Father has to you.  Today he gives you the ability to go to your loving heavenly Father with your prayers.  And he gives this promise that your heavenly Father will not only hear your prayer, but he will answer them as well.

Today the entire nation stops to honor motherhood.  In so doing, we honor family.  For there can be no motherhood without father, and there can be no motherhood without child.  TO be mother is to be not just mother, but part of a family.  Now, of course, in this sinful world there are breakdowns in the family.  There are fathers and mothers split apart, there are children estranged, there are all manner of breaks in the structure of the family.  What God created for good, as usual, sinful man turns into something less than it should be.  Fathers and mothers have a great responsibility, and so often they fail at it.  Children have a responsibility to fathers and mothers, and they fail at it.  We all fail at what we are supposed to do in the family.  Parents are angry with their children, children are angry with their parents.  Parents don’t teach their children the fear and the love of the lord as they should, children don’t respect and honor their parents as they should.  There’s all sorts of ways to mess up families.  But God gives them to us as a great and precious gift.  In the animal kingdom there are some animals that eat their own young, there are children that never return to their parents, fathers that ignore children, all manner of things that are just the way things are in the animal kingdom.  The animals are mostly insensible, and so don’t care.  When small animals are taken from mothers, the mothers soon get over it.

People are not that way.  God created us to be family.  To have a father and mother.  To be child, to have children, to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  Parents are to bring up their children in the fear and love of the lord.  Children are supposed to honor their father and mother.  Parents are not to exasperate their children. Children are to show proper respect at all times, submitting their parents as to the Lord.  Because it is the Lord who gave them parents.  In the Large Catechism, Martin Luther says that if God gave us wood or stone and called them parents, we would still  be bound to honor and respect them.  much more then, are we to honor and respect flesh and blood parents, given by God to us, who sacrifice themselves to provide for us, to feed and clothe us, to teach us and bring us to God’s house?

This relationship between father and mother and child is just a dim and broken reflection of the relationship between you and your heavenly Father.  Today, on Rogate Sunday – prayer Sunday, we are given the heavenly Father.  You can pray to him.  And the prayer that Jesus gives begins, “Our Father, who art in heaven.”  We say in t he small catechism, “By these words God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true father and we are his true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask him as dear fathers ask their dear children.”  God is our true Father, because he is the one who provides for all our needs of body and soul.  He is the one who, while you were yet his enemy because of your sin, sent his only begotten son to die for you.

The Fathers and mothers that are given in this world are given to reflect the true Fatherhood of God. God has one Son – the only begotten son, who was begotten of his father before all worlds, God from God light from light very God of very God, begotten not made being of one substance with the father by whom all things were made.  This is Jesus.  He is the Son of God.  He is the one who shows us what true obedience and submission to the will of a parent is all about.  he gives his life for you. And now, you receive the adoption of sons.

IN Roman society, to adopt was to make a person who was not your child and heir to be like one of your family, with all the rights privileges, and honors that go along with it.  And this was not merely for young children.  Adults could be adopted to give them the legal status of your child and heir.  Any titles would pass on to them.  It didn’t matter who they were before. They could have been a slave, a foreigner toRome, whatever.  After adoption by a Roman official, they were heirs.

So for you.  You were adopted as a child of God through Holy Baptism.  And in Holy Baptism you are given God as your Father.  The words of Jesus, are fulfilled when the water is poured over you “6In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”  When you are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, God is your true Father.

And in Baptism, you are given to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven.” That prayer is not just for everyone.  It is for those who are children of God.  Those who have been baptized.  That is why in the baptismal service, the pastor places his hand on the head of the one to be baptized, and prays, with the whole congregation the Lord’s Prayer.  TheChurchofGod, those who have God as their Father and have received the adoption of Sons, now pass on to the one to be baptized that prayer that God has given to his church.  The church, in praying for and with the one to be baptized, is acknowledging that, yes, through this sacrament you are being brought into the fellowship of the church, you are being given the name of God, and now our father in heaven is also your father in heaven.

And now God, the loving heavenly Father of Jesus, is your Father.  You have a father who is loving and will never leave or forsake you, who will not break the bonds of family with you.  Even though earthly father and mother disappoint, your heavenly Father will never fail you.  He will always do the loving thing.  And now, fathers and mothers in this world, children of fathers and mothers, are given new life in their heavenly Father.  The work you do as father mother and child in this world is pleasing to God, who is your true father.  The work you do raising children, being a child is now good in his sight.  Oh, there are times when you will fail in this great task that is given you.  There are times when you will not be what you should as a part of a family.  There are times that you will fail God and you will not be what you should be as a Christian, and you will not show proper love to your brothers and sisters in Christ.  Because you are a sinner.  The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.  But that is why God has called you to be his.  That is why he sent his only begotten son into the flesh.  So that you would have forgiveness of sins.  As the scriptures say, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”  That is what being a child of God gives to you – not only the chance to pray “Our Father who art in heaven” and to know that your prayer is heard by your loving heavenly Father, but the chance to have a clear conscience to God.  Not to have to dwell in the guilt of failing as father, mother, son daughter, husband, wife, or whatever place God has put you in in this world.  You need no longer dwell on the failure.  The church fails to fulfill its own calling when it speaks of your duties as father and mother and child in such a way that you leave only feeling guilty for your failings.  There is forgiveness with God.  If there were not forgiveness for our failings in our families, if that were some sort of restricted forgiveness that could not be obtained like the other forgiveness, then what hope do we have?  Families are where we sin the most.  There’s the public persona we want everyone to think of when they see us, and then there is how we act in the privacy of our own homes.  If those sins were  somehow not included in the forgiveness Jesus offers, then there may as well be no forgiveness at all.  You are cleansed by his blood of all sins, even the ones in your families.  Even the ones in secret.

Now, with a clear conscience, you can stop trying to earn God’s pleasure, and simply bask in the life he gives you.  You can be father, or mother, son or daughter, husband or wife, friend, brother or sister in Christ, you can be what God created you to be, what he redeemed you to be, and what he made you holy to be, in his name, in the name of father, son and holy spirit, you can pray to him with a clear conscience, and say, Lord, I do not deserve any of the gifts you give, but you have promised forgiveness, you have promised to hear and answer my prayer, you have promised to give good things.  And so I know that you will do it.   And you pray all of that, in those simple words, Our Father, who art in heaven.”  Your sins are forgiven Go in peace, serve the Lord.

Amen.

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