“A Sermon on the Family” Rev. Steven Sommerer
May 9, 2021 Sixth Sunday of Easter
Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed. Alleluia!
The sermon text for this morning is from our Gospel lesson from John 15:9-17. Jesus said, “This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Undeniably, the worst plague ever unleashed on humanity, responsible for more deaths than any pandemic in recent centuries is the anti-Christian, political philosophy of Karl Marx. It’s superspread in our universities and media by people who excuse its atrocities with the notion it just hasn’t been tried by the right people.
It’s nearly impossible to get a true idea how many have died from that political pandemic in the last century. As a philosophy it is purely destructive of the family, spiritual, cultural and political institutions. It sows anarchy and a lack of respect for authority and civil order. It always tears down, but never builds back positively. I have that in mind as I noticed a smarmy professor this week likening motherhood to a form of eco-terrorism. Railing against the true God, the eco-marxists worship nature instead, but they will never live under the misery their ideas create. That misery is reserved for their foolish students and followers.
It’s not only half-witted professors who devalue the gift of motherhood and family more broadly. In a recent survey 59% said that a woman should tell an employer she had kids when applying for a job. 41% thought it would hurt the woman’s chance of getting the job. But in a focus group giving feedback on the issue had the guys thinking the woman should tell the boss, that it was positive and admirable and showed multi-tasking ability. The women in the focus group said don’t tell, fearful that the family would be considered a hindrance to work performance.
This time of year, we talk a good game about the gift of mothers, but for the most part our culture doesn’t truly value them, even ridicules the June Cleaver types that choose the home for their vocation. This sermon isn’t really about whether a young girl wants to be a lawyer or doctor or farmer or engineer. It’s about Christians affirming the Godly importance of family, if it be God’s will, and that marriage is a blessing if God provides a Christian spouse, and that children aren’t a form of terrorism against the earth, nor something to be vaccinated against, but a gift to be received if it is God’s will.
We affirm today Christian families praying together at the family altar, meals together and re-claiming the priorities of the home from coaches and school activities. We affirm parenting in a Christian way so our kids don’t circle the cultural toilet on the way to hell. Yes, today we rejoice in the gift of our moms, but even as we rejoice in our parents, we remember that there is only One perfect Father in heaven, and we are members of His family by grace for Jesus’ sake. God’s grace extends to moms and dads, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and as often as we fail in those important callings God’s grace is bigger than our failures.
That said, even as we focus on Christ, the church must say something to affirm God’s will for the family. Being a Christian mom means developing calluses on prayer-bent knees, learning and sharing God’s Word in discipline and daily conversation. A Christian mom is a professional teacher, counselor, doctor, nurse, chef, janitor, launderer, chauffeur, waste removal expert, party planner, childcare specialist, and a million other jobs, all rolled into one. It’s impossible to assess a mother’s value.
A Christian mom’s highest calling and greatest value lies in her sanctifying place in the Christian home. 1 Corinthians 7 says the godly mom sanctifies her family as the love of Jesus shines in and through her heart by word and witness. Lord, thank you for such moms. Many of you, like I, will one day whisper a prayer of thanksgiving before God in heaven for moms who prayed with us and for us and brought us to Jesus to hear about a love even greater than the love of any earthly parent – God’s love in Christ.
No other vocation in Scripture is as highly praised as the Christian mom. It’s true dads are given the charge to be sacrificial, servant leaders in their homes. Godly husbands are called to mirror Christ who loved His Bride the Church, leaders with Godly courage and conviction, willing even to lay down his life for his family. That’s a man’s God-given job. But with the possible exception of 1 Timothy 4, where pastors who insist on pure life and doctrine save themselves and their hearers – I can’t think of any vocation that stacks up to God’s verdict over Christian moms. Only of mothers is it said in 1 Timothy 2: “She will be saved through childbearing – if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.” Notice, moms too are saved by continuing in faith… But God really thinks Christian moms are important! The Psalmist says moms share in God’s creative work as He “knits us together in our mother’s wombs – fearfully and wonderfully made!”
Today seems a good day to say something about the Christian family. God calls husbands and fathers to mirror Christ in loving service as head of the home and wives to submit themselves in reverence to Christ. This is a complementary relationship, not a tyrannical one. The Godly man isn’t king of the home perched on his throne. A husband’s headship doesn’t diminish but exalt and support a wife and mother. It provides a shelter for her gifts to flourish and to be praised. “Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the Church,” Ephesians 5 says. How did Christ love, not by “being served but serving and giving His life as a ransom for many”? The Godly woman in Christ is blessed when the Godly man leads and sacrifices and empties himself for his family, even dying for his home. And where the world preaches independence, the Christian woman knows it’s good for her and her home to have a man who models Jesus’ service. It’s good for both when husband and wife affirm and support the other.
From early on boys must be taught how to be Christian young men and servant leaders in their homes and church – not spoiled, entitled kings in need of being served, but servants with a heart to model lovingly Christ’s care for His Bride. Any woman would be wise to run away from a prospective husband whose mom waits on him like an infant. So also parents teach daughters to be Godly helpers, encouraging and affirming their husbands to be the head of their home, not spoiled princesses. Any boy would be wise to run away from a prospective wife who disrespected her father. Both our sons and daughters are taught love isn’t something you fall into, it’s not using someone else’s body, it’s a commitment under Christ for hard times, not just the good.
Dear young people, if you are at or near dating age, don’t even begin to give your heart to someone who doesn’t love Jesus and can’t be what God desires in your home. Boys, if the girl you are dating would never consider submitting to a husband out of reverence for Christ – run away as quickly as you can. It’s not worth the heartache. Girls, if he’s lazy and entitled – and you’d never trust him to be a Godly head of your home – run away. You won’t change what they are. You notice, God never commands a man to make sure his wife submits, or commands a woman to scold her husband to be the servant leader. God addresses His wisdom to each to take care of their calling.
Husbands and wives who follow God’s plan for the family are too concerned for the other to get hung up keeping score over who has the authority, who’s the boss and in charge. Life is better for both. Both are fed and nurtured in God’s grace and forgiveness, and both let God’s love flow through them into their families.
Where there is tyranny and lovelessness on the part of the husband or rebelliousness and power struggle on the part of the Christian wife, repentance and mutually sharing God’s forgiveness reorders the marriage and the home becomes a place where forgiven sinners loved by God – forgive other sinners loved by God – freely giving what we’ve freely received from God for Jesus’ sake. Godly homes aren’t perfect. They’re rooted and established in the Heavenly Father who sent His perfect Son, sacrificing His own life for the sake of Christ’s Bride the Church! Jesus didn’t wait for you and me to get this right. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners and that’s in every family!
Today we thank God for the Christian family and more specifically moms. We pray God’s strength for those who long for the gift of marriage and family. And we pray God’s strength for those whose relation to their parents has changed, and they have become the caregiver. “Honor your father and your mother” is a commandment that applies when you are young or old. Sometimes as our dearly loved parents age that may not simply mean obeying mom’s every wish, but in honoring and caring for them, making decisions to get and give them the care they need, but may not want. The 4rh commandment is the only one with the attached promise, you will live long on the earth. When we are young, our lives are blessed by a parent’s care, and we honor them. When they are old, our parents are blessed by our care and honor.
Whether it be husbands to wives, parents to children or children to parents. We never quite reach the ideal God’s Law demands. True love is embodied in sacrificial commitment. I don’t reach that, and you don’t either. Just as Eve was drawn from Adam’s side in Paradise, Jesus’ Bride the Church was born from His bloody side when that spear spilled forth water and blood. Jesus emptied Himself for you – not in fleeting emotion – but in sacrificial love and service for your sake and for all His Church. Into our world of marital fits and starts and family resolutions and failures, our Savior is bigger than our sins. He gives you a new heart. You have been born again in the water, Spirit and blood, betrothed to your Savior until the day we enter Christ’s wedding feast. “Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, to present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and blameless.” Amen.
Christ has risen! He has risen, indeed. Alleluia! And now may the peace of God which surpasses human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.