Sermon Text: It Starts Small
Let me tell you why Mothers' Day is a bigger deal than Fathers' Day.
It's not based on the Guys' Prayer. The Guys' Prayer is the one all us males secretly say after we've witnessed our beloved wife or partner give birth. It's a secret prayer, but we guys say, "Thank you, God, that I am never going to give birth."
Nor is my opinion based on the Man's Prayer. The Man's Prayer comes from my favorite Canadian export, "The Red Green Show." Every week at Possum Lodge, a club for typical men, Red Green leads his lodge members. He says, "Okay, men, bow your heads for the Man's Prayer....'I'm a man...but I can change...if I have to...I guess."
These prayers are real, but they're not what I am talking about. I think Mothers' Day is a bigger deal than Fathers' Day for other reasons. My opinion is based on being a dad for 38 years and watching the mother of my kids all that time.
Let me take you back to the time my first child was born. I was in seminary, training for ordination. I was so smart back then. I got a lot of A's. I even got some awards. I could tell you how the apostle Paul had one view of eschatology in his letter to the Thessalonians, and then changed his mind by the time he wrote to the Corinthians.
I could tell you the difference between St. Anselm's theory of the atonement, and Peter Abelard's idea of why Christ died on the cross.
And then our son Luke was born. And I learned just how dumb I was. Friends, this was back in the days of cloth diapers. Cloth diapers were held on the baby with diaper pins. One night, I actually pinned a diaper to my newborn son's thigh. Now, I hoped he would man up and be tough. But, oh, boy, did he cry!
Another time I was walking him in Evanston, Illinois, a mid-sized city right next to Chicago. I had him in one of those umbrella strollers they don't make any more. I guess I failed to strap him in securely. I came to a curb and bumped it. My little baby slid gently out of the stroller and landed softly. In a city street. No cars were nearby, but...still...you get the picture.
Luke is now an adult. He has three kids. He thinks these stories about his old man are funny. His mother, however, has a different view. She never laughs, chuckles, or smiles when these stories come up. There is no statute of limitations on the crimes I committed
37 years ago.
Those of you who are mothers out there are thinking to yourselves, right now, "What kind of idiot does those things?" Those of you who are fathers out there are chuckling to yourselves....very, very quietly.
And that is why Mothers' Day is a bigger deal than Fathers' Day.
I don't believe you can find a Fathers' Day card which says, "Dad, thanks for pinning that diaper to my leg!"
I was just so clueless when I became a dad. And you know what I was most clueless about? The kid did not come with a warning sticker.
He should have. There should have been a book of instructions. There should have been some kind of warning, in large letters: DANGER: THIS SMALL ITEM WILL INVADE YOUR HEART AND TAKE OVER.
Because that's what happens. That's how love goes. Something or someone starts out small, worms deeply into your heart, and takes over. That's how love goes.
Jesus told this parable about a mustard seed. It's a tiny seed that becomes a big plant.
And the mustard plant takes over where it's not wanted. It is an invasive plant. It tends to get out of control. It attracts undesirable birds to the farmer's field.
Jesus says that the kingdom starts small, and then can take over. If you don't like the word "kingdom," call it "the Way." It might seem troublesome, or even dangerous. It attracts people who can seem undesirable. You might want it in small, controlled doses.
It's like falling in love. It starts small: a glance, a smile, a few words. But it eventually takes over...your heart, your life.
It's like becoming a parent. The child is invisible in the womb at first, and then emerges as a small, wiggling, helpless creature. Eventually, it takes over...your heart, your life.
It's like the Jesus Way. It starts small...a story from the Gospels...a little bread...a little wine....eventually, it can take over...your heart, your life.
The pattern can be seen again and again. A little bit of water from baptism soaks in and eventually floods an entire life with love and power to serve. A little bit of bread becomes a sign of how we are fed generously, and we decide to pass it on by feeding others generously. A little story by Jesus becomes part of the big story of our own lives.
My little boy Luke is now six feet tall. In my heart, he will always be even bigger...a giant. He is a very, very fine man, and I'm so proud of him. He started small, wormed his way into my heart, and took over.
It starts small, and takes time.
That's how love goes.
That's how God's kingdom goes.
That's how the Jesus Way goes.
I was so smart back in seminary.
Now I know I was just a beginner.
I had so much to learn.
I'm still a beginner.
I still have so much to learn.
And the most important thing I'm learning is this:
It's not about being smart.
It's all about love.
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