Word of the Week

A Mother's Day Disruption

Sunday: it's the day that is popularly known in churches as the second highest attended day right after Easter. Though not a liturgical holiday, it might as well be one.

Love and appreciation of mother runs deep in our culture, so much so that we are often willing to attend church with our mother even if we don't normally find ourselves in worship. It's a day of joy for many; to have their mother or child worshipping beside them at church. It's a day that countless churches hand out flowers and recognize all the mother's in the congregation. It's a day that the preacher of the day is encouraged to speed on through the sermon so that folks can get to the restaurants before all the others . . .

But, should we really be taking all of our cues as a gathered people from our culture?

Like most pastors I know, I see the struggle with Mother's Day as much as I see the joy (hey, I love it when folks come to church no matter the reason!).

At Washington Plaza, it's a Sunday that we often place tissues in the pews for tears flow deeply from the cheeks of folks who have recently lost their mother to death, to those who can not be with their mother because long distances separate them or those who are seeking to have children but have not been blessed yet.

So, what a good day for a disruption . . . . a disruption from all that our culture teaches us this Sunday SHOULD be about and reclaiming it for the growth of our communities.

I know no better text than what the gospel lesson from the lectionary offers us this week.

Luke 24:13-44

13Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. 18Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 28As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?”

It's one of my favorite scriptures of all times-- one that I have found illumination from at countless points of my journey.

It's a text that speaks of Jesus meeting two of his followers in friendship. Walking with them, talking with them, and through conversation illuminating that indeed he was the risen Lord. It's a text that reminds us that church that Jesus was hoping his followers would create would be about friendships that always transcend human biological relations. And, that in our being together as a community of faith, our normal patterns of relating to one another are interrupted. That in breaking bread together and devoting ourselves to the practice of intentional listening, blessings overflow from our risen Lord.

And, no, the love we all crave doesn't always come from the usual sources. Sometimes Christ longs to give us deep abiding community from those we least expect.

So, on Sunday, Washington Plaza will acknowledge Mother's Day, knowing that it is very close to the hearts of some, but we will also hope to stir the imagination of many to reconsider the disruption found in this text. Family is always more than who birth us, who has our last name, or who we naturally have ties to: in the ways of Christ, family is always about a broader welcome of all. For, in Christ's body, we can all be mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters to one another, and this is indeed something good to celebrate!