Waynedale United Methodist Church
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!
   

May 8, 2016 Sermon

“Blessing: Families and Mothers”
Luke 1:39 – 45
Ted Jansen May 8, 2016  Waynedale UMC
 
1.)        "As a mother of three beautiful children, I have many special memories to share.  One of my special moments as a mom was with someone else's child.  It is a moment I will always cherish.
            Michael came to our self-esteem-building camp last summer, referred to us by a boys' home where he was currently residing.  Michael was 12 years old, and his life had been difficult.  His father had brought him to the U.S. from a war-torn country after his mother's death for a 'better life.'  Unfortunately, he was left to the care of his aunt, who emotionally and physically abused him.  He had become one tough boy, with very little trust and a belief that he was not lovable.
            He hung out with a few other boys who were likewise negative, angry and tough.  The 'gang' was a challenge to the counselors, but we hung in with them and continued to love and accept them.  We recognized their exterior behavior as a reflection of how they had been hurt.
            Around the fifth night of our seven-day experience, we treated the kids to an overnight camp-out under the stars.  When Michael heard of this event, he said it was 'stupid' and he wasn't going.  We avoided getting into a power struggle with him and went on with the evening.
            As the moon shone brightly and the evening waned, the kids began arranging their sleeping bags for the evening on a huge deck near the lake.
            I noticed Michael walking around by himself with his head down.  He saw me and quickly walked toward me.  I thought I would avert his whining and said, 'Come on, Michael, let's get your sleeping bag and find a good spot for you with your friends.'
            'I don’t have a sleeping bag,' he muttered in a low voice.
            'Oh, that's no problem, we’ll just open up several bags and get you blankets for covers.'
            Figuring I had solved his dilemma, I began to walk off.  Michael tugged at my shirt and pulled me away from the crowd of kids.
            'Anne,' he said, 'I need to tell you something.'  I saw that tough big boy's face melting with embarrassment and shame at what he had to tell me.  In a barely audible whisper, he said, 'You see, I have this problem.  I…I…I'm a bed wetter and I wet the sheets every night.'  I was so glad he whispered into my ear and couldn't see the look of astonishment on my face.  I hadn't even considered this as a reason for his negative attitude.  I thanked him for letting me in on his 'problem' and told him I understood why he was upset about the evening.  We decided together the he could sleep in his cabin alone and just slip out quietly from the group.
            I left him and on the long walk back to the cabin I asked him if he was afraid to sleep alone.  He assured me that it was not a problem and that he had faced much scarier things before in his life.  As we put his last set of fresh sheets on his bed, we talked about how difficult his first 12 years had been and he told me how much he wanted the future to be different.  I told him how he had all the power he needed to make his life the best it could be.  He looked so vulnerable and sweet and real for the first time that week.
            He hopped under the covers and I asked if I could tuck him in.  'What does 'tuck in' mean?' he asked with curiosity.  With tears in my eyes, I covered him up, tucked them under his chin and kissed him on the forehead.
            'Goodnight, Michael, I think you are awesome!'  I mumbled.
            'G'night and uh, uh, thanks for being kinda like a mom to me, okay?' he said earnestly.
            'My pleasure, sweetheart,' I said with a hug.  As I turned to go, three sets of dirty sheets under my arms and the tears rolling down my cheeks, I thanked God for the love that can happen between a mom and her son, even if only for a day." (Chicken Soup for the Mother's Soul page 43 "Mom for a Day" by Anne Jordan) 
2.)        We thank God for mothers and the women who have blessed us and loved us.  Today is a day that we set aside to offer our thanks for Mothers.  We remember and give thanks. 
We might remember and struggle with our feelings, emotions and experiences.   We might not have or had a mother we are thankful for.  We might not have had children, though we wanted them.  We might struggle as we think about what other women are experiencing.  It is a day to strengthen our families.   
            We continue our series on families by looking at the theme of blessing.  The image of the smiley face was a symbol that I came to me when I considered “blessing.”   May we smile today as we learn about blessing from two women.      
 
3.)        In Luke 1 we read that Elizabeth is pregnant with a child.  This child is John the Baptist.  Then we can read in Luke 1:26 and following verses about Mary and her unique story of being pregnant with the child we know as Jesus.  Both of these pregnancy stories are unusual.  Both of these women are a part of God’s plan, along with their babies.     
In Luke 1:39 we read that Mary decides to travel to see Elizabeth who is six months pregnant at the time.  She lives south, in Judea, several days of travel to get there from where Mary is living in Nazareth.  Mary has been visited by the angel and tells the Lord, I am a servant.”  She is willing to be obedient to the divine message and purpose, though, it will not be an easy path.       
Mary, after several days of travel, come to the home where Elizabeth and Zechariah live.  Here is what happens when Mary comes to the door.  “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  In a loud voice she exclaimed: Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”  (Luke 1:41 – 45)
Can up picture this scene in our mind?  It is a joy filled time.  What follows this loud blessing is Mary and her proclamation of praise to God. It all begins with Elizabeth offering to Mary a threefold blessing.  Blessing was expressed by Elizabeth for Mary, for her child and for her faith.  This threefold model can guide us as we explore the importance of blessing.  
           
4.)        For Mary.  This is a blessing that focuses on Mary as a person.  The blessing was not linked to Mary doing anything or saying anything or expecting anything.  She simply was alive.  
            We bless a person by offering words of love for that person.  This blessing is not based on any conditions.  Love and blessing is given for that person as a person.  One way of considering this blessing is believing that each person is made in the image of God. Each person can be blessed of that.   
I bless _____.  Love them and care for them and give them your peace.  
 
5.)        For the child.  This is the blessing for the child that was within Mary.   This is for Jesus and His life.  This is a blessing on what Mary carries, a child in her, as a part of life.   
            We can bless children, and we can bless people who “carry” their unique lives as a gift from God.  What I mean is that not all can have children.  But all carry our unique way that God created us with a unique personality, skills, perspectives, etc. 
Some are introverted, some are extraverted, some are skilled in using their hands, or using their head.  We all carry around in our lives God given life.  We have different gifts, we have different perspectives, different experiences.  This is something that is unique to us and something that others can see in us.  We can offer a blessing for what others carry that makes them special.  Each of us need blessing for our unique lives. 
            I bless _____ for their caring and joy filled spirit.     
 
6.)        For belief.  Elizabeth was blessing Mary for her belief that God was going to use her life, and this child for a purpose.   Mary expressed her faith when she told the angel, “I am a servant.”  She was living out her faith and belief.  The Holy Spirit in Elizabeth gave words in the form of a blessing for Mary’s obedience and faith.    
We need to look for the ways that people are living out their faith and bless them for their trust and obedience.  In our lives we seek to live out our faith and belief each day.  People can see our growth and faith through our unique life circumstances.   We all need affirmation that we are on the right path and that God is with us and working things out for us, according to His plan. 
I bless ______ for their faith that they trust God in the future.  
 
7.)        Blessings strengthen families.  Each of us need to share our affirmation.   
            We need blessing, because we hear negative messages in our lives.   We might hear things that don’t encourage us or lift us up.  We are not valued, we are criticized, we feel negative about our attempts at faith. 
What are you carrying in your spirit?  Do you have “blessing” or do you have “burdens?”   
            I read an article from Harvard Business School and as it was talking about morale in the workplace.  It said that you need to hear 5 positive things for every 1 negative thing to keep your morale good. 
If we translated that to strong families then we need to hear 5 blessings for each negative. How is the ratio in your family, your marriage, your friendships?  The Holy Spirit will lead us, as Elizabeth was, to offer blessing. 
 
8.)        The word “blessed” in the Greek is eulogeo.  That sounds a lot like a eulogy.  What is a eulogy?  Those are words that are spoken at a funeral.  These are words of the good that person way, of their unique life and how they lived with faith and belief.     
            We should not wait to bless, to offer our eulogy, until someone is gone, let us do it today.  We are thankful for our mom, for what she carried, our life and her personality, and for her faith, or for the faith of other women that have helped us grow. 
We can bless our mother’s, and children, and fathers, and family, co-workers, neighbors, and to the people around us.        Let God use your heart to look for someone you can bless.    
I received a card on Saturday from a friend in Auburn that I had not talked to for several years.  She sent a card and blessing to me.  I felt loved, remembered and uplifted.  I was blessed.       
 
9.)        God has been sending you a message of blessing.  Have you heard it?  It is strong.  It is powerful and personal.   
God will bless us through the celebration of Communion.  Hear God say, “I love you!”  I have given my one and only Son for you because I love you. 
Whenever you eat of the bread and drink of the juice you will remember me and my blessing upon you.