1 What We Want for Our Children John 14:23-29 Some helpful person has made a list for men--a list of “What NOT to Buy Your Wife for Mother’s Day.” I realize this is a little late, but just in case any of you men were planning on running out to [Wal-Mart] this afternoon, this list might help: 1. Don’t buy anything that plugs in. Anything that requires electricity is seen as utilitarian. 2. Don’t buy clothing that involves sizes. The chances are one in 7,000 that you will get her size right, and your wife will be offended the other 6999 times. “Do I look like a size 16?” she’ll say. Too small a size doesn’t cut it either: “I haven’t worn a size 8 in 20 years!” 3. Avoid all things useful. The new silver polish advertised to save hundreds of hours is not going to win you any brownie points. 4. Don’t buy anything that involves weight loss or self-improvement. She’ll perceive a six-month membership to a diet center as a suggestion that’s she’s overweight. 5. Don’t buy jewelry. The jewelry your wife wants, you can’t afford. And the jewelry you can afford, she doesn’t want. 6. And, guys, do not fall into the traditional trap of buying her frilly underwear. Your idea of the kind your wife should wear and what she actually wears is light years apart. 7. Finally, don’t spend too much. “How do you think we’re going to afford that?” she’ll ask. But don’t spend too little. She won’t say anything, but she’ll think, “Is that all I’m worth?” (1) Good luck, men. Hopefully, this year you were successful. 2 Today we honor our mothers. Not everybody can be a mother, of course. Some women and their husbands try for years to conceive a child and it never happens. And some women choose not to have families. Some women never meet the right man for a life partner. People have all kinds of life situations. We can’t put everyone in the same box. And some people who don’t fit the category of mother deserve to be honored. There was a worship committee of one church in the South that was discussing what to do to recognize Mother’s May. They decided to give a rose to the oldest mother in the congregation, and one to the mother with the most children grandchildren, etc. They also decided to have all the mothers stand. Then someone on the committee got worried. What should they do about Miss Smith? She never had any children. But she has been teaching the first grade Sunday School class for 30 years. “She is like a mother to all of us,” said someone, “We ought to be able to recognize her on Mother’s Day.” And that makes sense, doesn’t it? In fact, we really ought to have a day to honor all those people who give loving service to others. Some of you are at that point in life where you are being the parent to your own mother and/or father. “Sandwich generation” is a popular term. Looking after your children and looking after aging parents at the same time. There ought to be a day to honor all people who are care-givers. We might include nurses and workers in assisted living centers. We might include teachers. Our Mother’s Day celebration could get out of hand, of course. We do have Father’s Day coming up in a few weeks. That’s important since an increasing number of men play care-giving roles today. But today we will limit our focus to women who are responsible for the well- 3 being of children--moms, grandmothers, foster mothers, every woman involved in a parenting role. Christ said to his disciples before he left them, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Christ wanted his disciples to have a sense of inner peace when he was no longer with them. He didn’t want them to be afraid. He was sending them out into a hostile world. As long as they served him, they would not know any outward peace. Read Hebrews 11, concerning the heroes of our faith. Here is how that chapter describes what some of the followers of Christ had to face: “[Some] were tortured and refused to be released . . . Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated--the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.” (35b-38) This is the peace Christ wanted for them? TV evangelists may promise you that if you follow Jesus, God’s going to pour out His blessings, but Jesus never made such a claim. His disciples knew no outer peace, but they had an inner peace that the world could not shake. Isn’t that what you desire above all else for your children? You cannot protect them from every snare, every heartache, no matter how much you may want to. I know, some of you try. What we hope for is to give them an inner peace in a world of turmoil. Isn’t that what we really mean when we say, “All I want is for them to be happy”? 4 What we want for our children is what Jesus wanted for his disciples-- inner peace, inner strength, inner confidence that will allow them to stand tall in the hour of testing. Now, how do we give them that peace that the world can neither give nor take away? First of all, we tell them who they are. If they have a strong sense of identity and a sense of self-worth, they are on the path to inner peace. Some of you may be familiar with the African-American women’s singing group, Sweet Honey in the Rock. They have a song titled, “No Mirrors in My Nana’s House.” One of the singers explained how this song was created. One of her friends was telling her about growing up in a very poor neighborhood. She grew up in her grandmother’s house and she said, “You know, in my Nana’s house there were no mirrors.” Her friend asked her, “Well, how did you know what you looked like?” “Well,” she said, “my Nana told me. Every morning I would get up and get dressed and comb my hair, and then I would go to Nana and I would say, `How do I look?’ And she would tell me. She would tell me I was beautiful. She said my skin was smooth and golden brown, kissed by the sun, and she said my eyes shone like silver moonbeams. In my Nana’s house, there were no mirrors, so I saw myself through my Nana’s eyes who loved me and the beauty of everything was in her eyes.” (2) Wow! What a wonderful gift to give to a child. It’s a challenge, but somehow we need to grab hold of our own emotions from time to time so that we can communicate to our children that they really are the center of our attention, that they have inestimable worth in 5 our eyes. When we help them develop inner peace, we give them positive messages about themselves, we give them a sense of responsibility, and a sense of God’s presence in their lives. Some of us probably wouldn’t have found Jesus if he hadn’t lived inside our Mothers or our grandparents or some other loving adult. That’s how we normally come to Christ, we come through the influence of someone very close to us whom we love and admire. And so the question for every mother this day--indeed a question for every adult--could a child sense Jesus in your life? Could a young person find faith in your witness? What we want for our children is the same thing Jesus wanted for his disciples--a peace that the world cannot give nor take away. We can help them with that by helping them have a sense of who they are, by helping them develop a sense of responsibility and by showing them Jesus in our own lives.