Sunday, May 12, 2013

Peacemaking Mother's Day

Discover Life, Again: Peacemaking Mothers

Intro to Worship service
This Sunday concludes the seven week Easter Series entitled Discover Life, Again.
We began on Easter Sunday when most if not all of us said we would love to be able to see life with hope, optimism, stuff of resurrection.  Reason to smile like my daughter Zia.

Today, Mother’s Day, seems a most fitting way to conclude the series.
From all mothers comes life - Life comes forth from our mother Earth....
Life comes forth from the womb of woman.
Life a gift which we may cherish now, in this moment.  

And so we honor our mothers...our life givers.
And more deeply than may be customary practice on Mother's Day.
this morning we are going to honor the original intention by those who urged our country to have a designated Mother’s Day, the likes of Julia Ward Howe and Ann Jarvis (quotes and ideas come primarily from Peace Talks Radio).  
These desired that Mother’s Day be a day, not in which women are to be treated special or pampered,
But a day given to Women of all nations to convene with one another to discover ways to bring about peace in this world.
When I told Trasie that we were going to start celebrating Mother’s day this way, she said great, you take the kids and I’ll convene with some of my friends!  

Julia Ward Howe and Ann Jarvis lived in the later half of the 19th century.
Among their sufferings, they lived through the brutalities of the Civil War--
the bitterness and hatred that swept across the country;
the death and carnage of sons and husbands....  
THe voices of women rose from the smoky ashes of battlefield, Crying out for peace.
And they sought to silence the drumbeats of war perpetuated by men.
Women saw continued efforts to obtain peace through war was simply illogical -- how would what had not worked for centuries miraculously start working?
Why don’t we try something completely radical, women said, that we’ve never tried which is to get peace through peace.
Give us a Day to figure out a way to make peace!
Mother’s Day would be a Peacemaking Day, they declared.
It would be a day for all women to gather together in this effort, for Ward Howe recognized:  
“Every woman is not in God’s providence a wife and every wife is not a mother, but every true woman has the mother in her and this grand spiritual motherhood exerting its influence and watchfulness and all the walks of life will give every woman a noble part to perform in the great drama of the world.”

Finally, in 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a joint resolution signed by President Woodrow Wilson establishing Mother’s Day.
But!, but, the all male lawmakers put forth this day as a way to actually establish women’s domestic roles,
and ignored and dismissed women’s roles as activists in the public arena.

And then less than a generation after the establishment of Mother’s Day as a National Holiday, Ann Jarvis’ daughter, who carried on the peacemaking work of her mother, became increasingly concerned over the commercialization of Mother’s Day; the selling of the cards and the flowers.
How better to disempower a strong and incredibly noble belief than to commercialize it.  
but we can resist; and that is What we are doing this morning..

“Let no civilized nation from henceforth and forever admit or recognize the instrumentality of war as worth of Christian society.
Let the fact of human brotherhood be taught to the babe in his cradle.
Said Julia Ward Howe.

Today our worship celebrates LIFE by honoring the loving Spirit of women who seek to create a more peaceable world; and by challenging us as followers of Jesus to be Peacemakers.

Jesus said, My peace I leave with you, my peace I give you.  
The peace of the Lord be with you.

As we share a sign of peace, the children are going to pass out peace stickers to oeveryone!
A badge of honor.  Let us share a sign of peace.

Matthew 5:3-10 and John 14:23-27
(I only gave a brief introduction before deacon Phoebe Girard preached!)

Something the beatitudes of Jesus found in Matthew demonstrate:
Anything that increases exchange, compassion, intimacy between others manifests the grace of God.
By contrast whatever separates, divides, polarizes is opposed to the manifestation of the grace of God.
Because peacemaking is at the heart of God’s vision for the world - a world in which swords are turned to plowshares, it seems that each characteristic in the beatitudes is a characteristic of being a peacemaker.  
-when we are poor, rather than rich and powerful
-when we mourn or are persecuted instead of retaliate.
-When we are pure in heart and can see God’s way of peace
-When we are meek and do not insist on our own way.
-When we seek after justice, and advocate for Peace

Whether it’s the search for inner peace, or learning how we can reduce conflict with others, in our homes, schools, workplaces or between nations, we are called to be peacemakers as followers of Jesus.
This is the way Jesus lead,
this is what Jesus left with his disciples,  
Peace I leave with you....

Perhaps they wondered if they would be able to sustain that peacemaking mission in his absence; don’t you wonder if we can do it on our own?
Bring about peace in this world?
The challenges are great.  
Don’t let your hearts be troubled...Jesus said.
Before Jesus left the disciples he assured them that the Advocate would be with them.
The Advocate would empower them to be blessed peacemakers,
The Advocate would sustain them in their work!
We witness this sustaining empowering power of the Holy Spirit as we witness the work of peacemakers throughout time and history.  

Phoebe Girard has courageously and gracefully taken up the banner of Peacemaker in her own life. She has led peacemaking studies in this church, including the monthly Peace and Justice meetings as well as a Saturday at Ghost Ranch a few weeks ago in which 30 of us gathered to discuss what being a Peacemaking Church means. She works with the Interfaith Social Justice Network here in Santa Fe; as well as diligently with Israel Palestine issues, including a camp for young girls of both nationalities to come to New Mexico over the summer to deepen relationships with each other as a way of creating peace.

I asked Phoebe if she would share with the congregation a bit of her own story, her own testimony, her own perspective about what Peacemaking is about.  
And she readily said YES!
She is passionate about this essential work, and so I’m so thankful to God for her witness and to have the opportunity to hear from her this morning....

THank you Phoebe!

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