Mothers Day: On mothers, forgiveness & coffee

.Sermon on Mother’s Day 2019.

Opening prayer: A Prayer for Mothers.

This Day as we gather, we give thanks and we pray:

We pray for mothers; may they be blessed with patience & tenderness to care for their children with love & joy. We pray for our own mothers, who have nurtured & cared for us; may they continue to guide us through time. We remember & pray for mothers, who are separated from their children, because of war, poverty, or conflict; may they feel the loving embrace of you, God, who wipes every tear away. We remember mothers, grandmothers, & great-grandmothers, who are no longer with us, but who live forever in our memory and in God’s love. Bless & protect all mother’s today and may we all trust in God’s grace. AMEN

Sermon: Mothers, Forgiveness & Coffee.

Today we celebrate mothers.

If you are a mother, I do hope that you are celebrated today.

If you are a daughter or a son, I do hope you celebrate your mother today.

For some the celebration comes easy. For some this day is a day filled with love and appreciation for the mother, who truly was or is a fine mother.

For some the celebration comes more difficult. For some this day is a complicated day of celebrating a mother, who might not have been the mother you dreamed of or hoped for or needed. For some this is a complicated day as the mothers was absent, abusive or unknown.

Regardless how our relationship with our mothers may be, regardless if we hold them high in esteem and embrace them with love both here and in our fondest memories, - regardless if we try to forget the mother of our childhood or if we still try to reconcile and cope with a difficult childhood and complicated motherhood, - regardless this is a day of love and forgiveness.

Through reconciliation and a honestly acceptance of what we might have done wrong, how we might have gone astray or lost sight of our mothers love, or dealing with what we need to be forgiven; – and on the other hand through reconciliation and a honestly acceptance of how our mothers might have done us wrong, might have lost sight of their child and how we need to forgive them.

Oscar Wilde says: “Children begin by loving their parents: as they grow older, they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”

This Mother’s Day as any Mother’s Day should not just be a glossy Hallmark Card or a beautiful bouquet of roses – because we all know that the Hallmark card might be flossed in the edges and the roses do have thorns.

Mother’s Day truly should be a day of love & forgiveness and respect &reconciliation.

“Honor your mother and father. Honor your parents.” Is the 4th commandment. We honor, we love, we give thanks and we regret, reconcile and forgive. As Oscar Wilde wrote about loving, judging and possible forgiving your parents, the Danish author Hella Joof wrote her 10 Commandments about a good life in pursuit of happiness and her 4th commandment was a reflection on the old biblical commandant:

“Forgive your parents,” she writes, “They did is as well as they could. They too were once small kids with big knees and scared eyes. You will need to be forgiven yourself, when you some day will be met by the anger of your own children.”

We all have our stories to tell. We all have our stories of mothers, who shaped us for better and worse.

Today is a day to share our stories of mothers. Just for a moment:

~ think of your mother and now quietly whisper her name.

~  think of the brightest memory you have of your mother

~  think of the last time you talked to her.

~  As you think: accept that you are the daughter or son of your mother for better and worse – and embrace that acceptance with love, appreciation, forgiveness and hope.

There are so many stories of mothers.

To celebrate Mothers’ day here in the church, I will remember some of the many biblical stories of motherhood: stories that too often are forgotten.

Dinah and Joseph, children of Jacob and Rachel, buried their mother on the way to Bethlehem and left her grave behind them. We too know children who have faced that day, the day of final good buy and the day of a gravesite, suddenly facing tomorrow without their mother.

Rachel, Sarah and Elizabeth – mothers who finally after many years of trials and disappointments, did hold their newborn child in their arms and found it to be simultaneously the greatest gift and the hardest task. There are probably hundreds of women who never got a name in the Bible, because they were unable to bear children to pass on the family faith and the family name. We too – here today – know many women facing miscarriages, infertility and loneliness.

Then I remember the stories of Rahab, Deborah, Joanna and Phoebe, strong women whose work surprisingly outweighed the need to record whiter of not they did have children. Were they childless by choice or by circumstance? Were the names of the children lost in time as unimportant? Were these women indeed shamed in their lives for putting work ahead of family?

We all remember the wonderful story about Moses; about biological mother of Moses and the daughter of Pharaoh, linked and yet so separate. One gave up her child to save her child, and one took in a child to save it despite the risks. With these women in mind, I remember stories of all the women through the history who have given up their children in the hope of better life for them og simply to save their lives. And I remember and give thanks for all the women who has made family through adoption and taken in a child “not her own”, because bone of bones is not always how a family is made.

Rebecca and her twins Esau and Jacob already at war in her womb. How she chose a favorite son, just as her husband did. We all know stories of children who bear the trauma of parents who, perhaps made a choice, conscious or not; of parents favoring a child; perhaps doing what they thought was right and the best they could, but scarred their children’s heart, love and relations for life..

We recognize a mother’s relentless love in the story about the Syrophoenician woman, alone, unsupported and persistent beyond comprehension on behalf of her dying child. We have all witnesses so many brave women who fought for their children, who relentlessly wouldn’t give in to illness, abuse, war, injustice or poverty.

Today we remember Mary, the young girl, who cradled her stomach with wonder, answering to a miracle: Yes. And lastly, we do remember Eve, the mother of all, bone of the bones of the man of dust, her name a reflection of the Hebrew word for life.

All these women from the Bible found inner courage and inner faith to be mothers, daughters and caregivers.

All these stories about mothers in the Bible are reflected in our stories of today.

So, think of your mother again.

Maybe she is and has been like the good shepherd guiding you through life; maybe she is and has been like a mother hen gathering her chicken under her wings; maybe she is and has been the constant voice reminding you to clean you room, do your homework, do the dishes and carry the trash out; maybe the best memory of your mom is like the Author Soren Ulrich Thomsen says in the poem “ The worst and the best”:

“The best was when the slender hand of my mom, slowly slided down my neck…” A comforting touch. A silent touch that spoke volumes of love.

This past Tuesday I met a remarkable mother for a cup of coffee. I was fortunate to meet the former Danish parliamentarian and TED talk celebrity Ozlem, when she visited Anaheim to give a talk on her project: dialogkaffe/ dialogue coffee.

Ozlem is a first-generation immigrant from Turkey and was the first female Muslim to get elected to the Danish Parliament. She is also a beautiful smiling outspoken woman who has made it her project to start dialogues where there is hatred. “Why does he hate you so much, mom? He doesn’t even know you?” Ozlems daughter as her this as she in the wake of her politician work, was bombarded by hate mail. Hateful, awful, threatening letters and emails that expressed their hate because she was an immigrant, she was a woman, she was a Muslim, she was outspoken. Then a good friend of her suggested that she should contact one of the hate writers and meet over a cup of coffee. And to her surprise he accepted, and they met at his home – and she stayed for several cups of coffee and hours of conversation. Face to Face. Person to Person. Mother to Father. Woman to man. Human to human.

So Ozlem started to have these dialogue coffee meetings with her “enemies” and “haters”. To try to understand, to try to build bridges and tear down walls, to try to open a dialogue.

She gave a TED talk which has been viewed by close to 2 mills. People – and thus she has been invited to speak all around the world…. And was at Anaheim Convention center the other day. And we sat down 5 people and had a cup of coffee and a talk: about differences, about our stories, about faith, religion, families, democracy, dialogues and building bridges.

She told us a moving story about how she as a young Muslim newly divorced woman had found her way to the local church in search of peace and serenity – and how she found the pastor and had a conversation that helped her through her divorce and change. That conversation and that cup of coffee and dialogue, between a Muslim and a Christian, - gave her strength and hope. As a muslim, and as a mother, a daughter, a believer, a bridgebuilder.

When I think of my mother, I often think of coffee too… and delicious homemade cookies, cakes and buns.

But always coffee and time to sit down and talk.

I encourage all of you today to sit with you mom for coffee or dinner or lunch if you can: if you can not call her.

If your mother is gone, them fondly remember her while you drink a cup of coffee or have dinner.

If your mother and you have a strained relationship, if you do not have a relationship at all, - please do take time to honestly think about her, forgive her if needed and let the transforming powers of reconciliation and forgiveness set you free to be a better daughter or son, a better mother or father and better woman or man. A better human being. Happy Mothers Day - Happy Sunday! AMEN