May 8, 2022, Message For A Resurrecting Community, Mother's Day, by Pastor David

John 10:22-30 At that time the festival of the Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered, “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name testify to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


Meditation and silence - We take a moment of silence for gratitude for life, gratitude for birth and for our mothers, and for the love of the Spirit.
May 8, 2022 Message for a Resurrecting Community Mothers’ Day

 

God is our mother. Throughout my time at St. Luke I have used inclusive language as often as possible - recognizing God’s presence for all and the Spirit’s working through all. Even so, I’m afraid the historical language of God as masculine continues to stick in our head. There is a quality of care that helps us know the Spirit in a more full way when we acknowledge God is also Mother. 


On Thursday in devotions we read a reimagining of the 23rd Psalm as mother. Listen: God is my mother. God looks after me and keeps me safe. God makes sure I have enough to eat and can go to school. Even though my country is at war God will surround and protect me. Surely my world will be whole and peaceful again soon and I will be able to do what I always dreamed I could do. Beautiful.
Anna Blinn helped us make these lovely banners in a thriving period of ministry that I want to tell you about today. 


As we continue to think about the last 26 years, let me tell you what it was like between around 2006 and 2010. After 9 years I took a three month sabbatical in 2005. It was an odd choice for a break, going to Nigeria with my 9 year old son and his mother, my partner, Cathy. 


It was completely different, that’s for sure. I did a little bit of writing that I’m hoping to pick up again after I retire. St. Luke learned a lot too during that same time, realizing how strong the leadership team was here & that worship & ministry could happen quite well without me. 


When we came back, Elijah started playing little league baseball and found his passion in life through baseball and sports. Cathy and I had a great time going to games for years after that. 


In the year following my sabbatical, St. Luke grew and was thriving. Clyde Shive was the choir director and organist and the children’s program was growing. We were averaging about 60 people a week in worship over the year 2006. 


Sally Newport, and Frantz Excellent joined the church that year, along with a few others who became active for a shorter amount of time. These pictures are from the Musicale we had each year during that time, where we had fun, sang and ate well. 


We regularly took lunch down to Mary Jane Enrichment Center as I spoke about last week. 


Rick Hellberg took over as Finance chair and giving to the church increased significantly.  


We had the 3rd Annual Main Line Children’s Festival with stilt walkers, drummers and dancers in our sanctuary and fire trucks, Moon Bounces, and art projects in the parking lot. 


Anne Kybert and Dot Hull joined the church along with 5 other people.


In February, 2008 we took a trip to New Orleans to do some clean up and repair of houses damaged by the disastrous Hurricane Katrina 2 years before.  Folks from Cookman United Methodist Church went with us and the trip cemented relationships and partnerships that continue to this day. Jon ended up hiring and training Pastor Donna’s sons and now they are out on their own. 


I helped to start Heeding God’s Call to End Gun Violence and got arrested with 11 other minister types, sitting in at Colosimo’s Gun store  down at 9th and Spring Garden streets. We continued a vigil there every week for 2 years and finally got this source of illegal guns closed down. The struggle to end straw purchases of handguns continues to this day as our society is willing to try anything but requiring stricter regulations on gun sales. 


Melaina Marshall began to work with the Children’s Celebration in 2009 and her ministry was a real gift to this church for the next 5 years. 


We had regular movie nights and Jon made a sign for out front. For years when I told people where we were, they’d say, “Oh, yeah, are you the movie church?”


Then in 2009 we installed screens in the sanctuary. People agreed to do it reluctantly when I insisted and then afterwards, everybody seemed to come to me to say, “I thought that was a terrible idea, but now I wouldn’t want to do without those screens.”


There were many other wonderful times in those years to mention. Let me just highlight a few. Every year we had a cookout at Gladwyne Park - always delicious and fun. Especially memorable was the one where we tried to get my son involved by having a softball game. He got a home-run, and most of the rest of got injured. 


There were visitors, like these good Maasai folks from Kenya that Marilyn invited. 


There were workdays to beautify our campus. There were fun, helpful, and Sometimes transformative, like this one when we let Jon get in a little bulldozer in the playground.


There were spiritual retreats and planning retreats, with yoga and breakfasts and fun. Rick and Frantz even created a sauna in the dining room. 


There were the confirmation trips to New York, Washington DC, Baltimore, and New York again - all deeply satisfying and fun and connecting.


There were Christmas pageants with the children. Just about anything with the children was great fun, I especially loved this one where one young guy, when asked what part he wanted to play said a fireman. And we said, “Of course.” and wrote a part for a fireman who visited baby Jesus at the manger.
Not all of these activities were life changing, but I am confident that through the community formed, the food consumed, the love shared, the music sung, the trips taken, the children cared for, and the prayers requested and given, that Lives were indeed transformed and made richer, more connected and that we indeed grew in love for life. 


Let me close by coming back to the theme of mothers. My mother came to visit in 2010 and she was really pleased to see the quilt she made me hanging right on the pulpit, a symbol for me of always keeping her near me whenever I am preaching. 


Maybe that’s why it’s easy for me to image God as mother, or gardener, or weaver, or shepherd. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives and we will dwell in the house of the Lord our whole lives long.

Responsive Song. 2059 I Am Your Mother