Sermons 2006
Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21

Home | "Light and Darkness", Christmas 2C, 31 December 2006, John 1:1-18 | Christmas Eve and Christmas Day 2006 | "What then shall we do?", Advent 3C , 17 December 2006, Luke 3:7-18 | "Luke's Gospel", Advent 1C, 3 Dec 2006, Luke 21:25-31 | Which Jesus? Proper 29B 2006, 26 November 2006, John 18:33-37 | Apocalypticism and Fundamentalism, Proper 28B, 19 Nov 2006, Daniel12; Mark 13:14-23 | "The Widow's Mite: All and Everything", Proper 27B, 12 November 2006, Mark 12:38-44 | "The Commandments to love God, Neighbor, One Another" Proper 26B, 5 November 2006, Mark 12:28-34 | "Sight -- and Seeing" Proper 25B, 29 October 2006, Mark 10:46-52 | "Baptism: Overwhelming Washing", Proper 24B, 22 October 2006 Mark 10:35-45 | "God's Transforming Love", Proper 23B, 15 October 2006, Mark 10:17-31 | "Divorce", Proper 22B, 8 February 2006, Mark 10: 2-9 | "Hard Sayings and Sharp Words", Proper 21B, 1 October 2006, Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48 | "First or Last?" Proper 20B, 24 September 2006, Mark 9:30-37 | "Unintended Consequences", Proper 19B, 17 September 2006, Mark 8:27-38 | "Ephphatha! Open up!" Proper 18B, 10 September 2006, Mark 7:31-37 | "Rituals", Proper 17B, 3 September 2006, Deuteronomy 4:1-9; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23 | "Choices." Proper 16B, 30 August 2006, Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-25; John 6:60-69 | "Come to the Table." Proper 15B, 20 August 2006, John 6:53-59 | "Do not be afraid." Proper 12B, 30 July 2006, Mark6:45-52 | "General Convention and Jesus' Compassion", Proper 11B, 23 July 2006, Mark 6: 30-44 | "Basics for the Journey", Proper 10B, 16 July 2006, Mark 6:7-13 | "Jesus and Rejection", Proper 9B, 9 July 2006, Mark 6:1-6 | "Trust, Faith, and Belief" Proper 8B, 2 July 2006, Mark 5:22-43 | "Storms, Fear, and Faith" Proper 7B, 25 June 2006, Mark 4:35-41 | Mighty things from Small, Proper 6B, 18 June 2006, Mark 4:26-34 | Trinity, Pentecost 1, 11 June 2006, Exodus 3:1-6; John 3:1-16 | The King Jesus Fire-Baptized Holy Spirit Church, Pentecost , 4 June, Acts 2:1-11; Jn 20:19-23 | "That they may be one" General Convention 2006, Easter 7B 28 May 2006, John 5:9-15 | "Friends, friendship, and love" Easter 6B, 21 May 2006, John 15:9-17 | Mother's Day, two mothers' love!" Easter 5B, 14 April 2006, John 14:15-21 | "Interesting, this Good Shepherd!" Easter 4B, 7 May 2006, John 10:11-16 | "How do you prove you are alive?", Easter 3B, 30 April 2006, Luke 24:36b-48 | "Do you believe because...." Easter 2B, 23 April 2006, John 20:19-31 | "He goes before you to Galilee...." Easter B 2006, 16 April, Mark 16:1-8 | "Journey into darkness", Palm Sunday B, 9 April 2006. Mark 11:1-11, 14:32-15:47 | "Sir, we would see Jesus!" Lent 5B, 2 April 2006, John 12:20-33 | "Miracles and Faith, Ordinary and Not", Lent 4B 2006, 26 March 2006, John 6:4-15 | "Rage, Rampage, and Outrage", Lent 3B, 19 March 2006, John 2: 13-22 | "Images of the Cross", Lent 2B, 12 March 2006, Mark 8:31-38 | "Baptism, Temptation, Redemption," Lent 1B, 5 March 2005, Mark 1:9-13 | Ash Wednesday , 1 March 2006, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21 | ""Nanny McPhee' and transfiguration", Epiphany Last B, Mark 9:2-9 | "Jesus, leprosy, and the law of Moses", Epiphany 6B, 12 February 2006, Mark 1:40-45 | "Healing, wholeness, forgiveness, and love", Epiphany 5B, 5 February 2006, Mark 1:29-39 | "Haints, Unclean spirits, and demons" Epiphany 4B, 22 January 2006, Mark 1:21-28 | Epiphany 3B, 22 January 2006, "God's Call -- and Our Response", Mark 1:14-20 | Epiphany 2B, 15 January 2006, "Call and Response", John 1:43-51 | Epiphany 1B, 8 January 2006, "The Baptism of our Lord -- and Ours", Mark 1:7-11 | The Holy Name, 1 January 2006, Luke 2: 15-21

Easter 5B 2006 (Mother’s Day) John 10:11-16

Today is an eventful day. It is Mother’s Day. Being mindful of the admonition of a female relative of mine – an in law by marriage, not a blood relative – “to say something about mothers on Mother’s Day – and it had better be good”, I thought I would give it a try.

In fact, I confused last Sunday – Good Shepherd Sunday – and this Sunday and I wrote this sermon for last Sunday. Only when Pauli reminded me that I had gotten it wrong – late on Saturday night – you should have seen the scramble in front of my computer eight days ago.

But as I was writing about the Good Shepherd, I began to wonder about the obviously absent Good Shepherdess. No Good Shepherdess is mentioned in the Gospels – and surely, Mary the Mother of Jesus was one – and as today is Mother’s Day, I wanted to wander into a bit of church history and talk about two famous mothers who were good shepherdesses in the early centuries of the Church.

Both were women in times when the status of women was not very good, even though they were both high born women. Both exercised great influence on their sons through whom they shaped the course of history and the development of Christianity. Both are considered saints in one part of the church or another. They lived in sequential times. One, Saint Helena, was born in 311 AD and died in 330 AD; the other, Saint Monica, was born two years later and died in 387 AD. These two women were the mothers of two giants in church history in the Fourth Century AD. Helena was the mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great, who adopted Christianity as the favored religion of the Roman Empire and called the Bishops into the Council at Nicea from which came the Nicene Creed. Monica was the mother of Augustine of Hippo, a saint in his own right, whose writings still shape the Christian theological enterprise.

Helena married the Roman general Constantius Chlorus who divorced her when he became Emperor in 292. She officially became a Christian at the time her son Constantine imposed Christianity on the Roman Empire. Her conversion was sincere. She was so devout that her contemporaries thought she had been a Christian since her childhood – and she might have been one of the many women of that time who secretly followed the faith. She dressed quietly and modestly, gave generously to churches, to the poor, and to prisoners. She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land where tradition has it that she was instrumental in arranging the preservation of many of the Christian holy places in Bethlehem, Nazareth, and Jerusalem. She died on this pilgrimage which she had undertaken at the age of eighty.

She was recognized as a saint in both Eastern and Western Christendom because she was the mother of the first Christian Emperor – Constantine is venerated as a saint in Eastern Orthodoxy, not n the West. Helena was also venerated because of her effort in finding the True Cross.

Monica is better known to us because of the writings of her son Augustine, especially in his memoir known to us as The Confessions of Saint Augustine. She married a man, Augustine’s father, who was both dissolute and violently tempered. Her mother in law was a member of the household and added to Monica’s difficulties in marriage. Monica overcame a tendency to heavy drinking and by persistent patience won over both her mother in law and her husband. Although her husband was frequently unfaithful to her never hit her or otherwise physically mistreated her. Perhaps under her influence, he was baptized the year before he died.

Monica applied the same persistence patience to her son Augustine over a similar period of man years. When he was young, she enrolled him in a class for catechumens – those preparing to be baptized. But his irregular and borderline dissolute life caused her so much suffering that she at one time banned him from living in her house. But she relented when she realized the time for Augustine’s baptism had not come – he simply wasn’t ready to assume his obligations and responsibilities as a baptized Christian. So Monica stopped nagging him and turned to prayer, fasting, and vigils, hoping that this would succeed where argument had failed.

Eventually Augustine went to Rome and on to Milan, where Monica followed him. In Milan Monica was highly esteemed by its Bishop, Saint Ambrose. Ambrose helped Augustine toward a deep moral conversion – the young man was well acquainted with sin by this time – and a true acceptance of the Christian faith. After a year of preparation he was baptized in 386 AD. The next year he and his mother began a journey to back to North Africa but Monica died as she was awaiting a ship at Ostia.

Just before she died she told Augustine that all she had wished to live for was to see him a Christian and a child of heaven. “God has granted me more than this in making you depose earthly happiness and consecrate yourself to his service.” Monica appears on the Episcopal Church Calendar of Saints on May 4, earlier this month.

Two mothers, good shepherdesses -- and saints, too.


Drawn from Lesser Feasts and Fasts and the Oxford Dictionary of Saints.

Wicomico Parish Church
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Wicomico Church, Virginia 22579