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Happy the Home
May 13, 1990


Today is Mother's Day. It is an unusual Mother's Day for me, because for the first time, I do not have my Mother on this earth. She died last September. I am especially reminded of her absence on this day when we honor mothers.

My mother's job was not easy. I was born during the Great Depression. We were poor farmers. My mother took care of the house, cooked, washed clothes and hung them outside where in the winter they turned to ice. Have any of you ever seen ice? When we brought the clothes inside the house, they were stiff as boards. My mother also had a large garden in which she grew our vegetables which she then canned for us to use in the winter. We did not have fresh vegetables or fruit in the winter. My mother also raised chickens. We fed the chickens, gathered the eggs twice a day, cleaned the chicken house once a week. She took the eggs to the grocery store where she traded the eggs for groceries. Besides caring for my father and me, my mother took care of my grandparents, my father's parents. This was not easy for my mother as my grandmother was a difficult woman. There were some mother-in-law daughter-in-law tensions. No, being a mother was not an easy job for my mother. I look at the pictures of my mother when I was small, and I see a woman who looks older than she did when she died. Those early years were difficult. I have much love and great respect for my mother.

Motherhood is not an easy job. It has not been easy for you who are mothers, and it is not getting easier. In fact, it is getting more difficult. You may be wealthier than mothers of previous generations. You may have more money and things than mothers in Tonga, but it is not easy to be an American mother. A news item the other day reported a disturbance at Menlo-Atherton High School which started as a fight between two girls, Hispanic and Samoan. We are assimilating many cultures, many nations, and it is not easy.

In the morning service I am currently preaching a series of sermons on basic Christian beliefs. I am reminding us that we are all aliens, we are all foreigners, we are all strangers on this planet. Especially here in the United States, we Christians are strangers. We don't quite belong. This is a new message for Methodists because the United States used to be a Protestant country. That is changing.

As I understand your life in Tonga, there is a very close connection between the Methodist Church and the culture. The President of Tonga is a Methodist. The stores are closed on Sundays. No one works. The values, beliefs and customs are strongly influenced by the church. That is not true here. Christians are in the minority. Too long the church has identified itself with the country and forgotten our primary allegiance is to Jesus Christ. We are different. We have a different story. We have different values.

It is not easy for families to survive in this culture. There are so many pressures on us. We are tempted by materialism. We think we all have to have all the gadgets in order to be happy. Our children and youth are tempted to try drugs and alcohol. They are tempted to engage in sexual activity before they are married. There are strange religions here. There are cults who will kidnap children. There are cults who call themselves churches and worship Satan. Teach your children and youth to be careful. Teach them we are strangers here on this earth, and to choose wisely. Do not do what everyone else does. Do not believe what everyone else believes. You are different. You are Christian.

It is not easy to be a mother and a father. It is a difficult task. According to my observations, you are all doing well. You are doing an excellent job. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the Children's Day service last Sunday. Your relationship with your children, your love of children and your love of God are beautiful to observe and to celebrate.

You are doing an excellent job with one foot in Tonga and one foot in America. May I suggest an additional image for mothers. Not only have one foot in Tonga and one foot in America, but have one hand in God's hand and one hand in your child's hand. Hold tightly to Jesus with one hand and hold tightly to your child with the other.

A mother is a link to God, a link between the child and God. A child's first impression of God, a child's first awareness of God's love comes from a mother. How does a mother transmit the love of God? Before a child is born, while the child is still in the womb, a mother has great influence on the child. When the mother is happy, when the mother is at peace, when she abstains from drugs, when she sings and laughs, she is transmitting the love of God to the unborn baby.

After the baby is born, she transmits the love of God by holding the baby close to her, cuddling, hugging, embracing the baby. She transmits the love of God by singing softly, and feeding and changing the baby with a quiet, happy spirit. When the child is frightened or ill, a mother transmits the love of God by being near, attentive, and loving. In all these ways a mother says, "I love you and God loves you," long before a child can understand words.

A mother and a father, holding tightly to Jesus with one hand and holding tightly to a child with the other, transmit the love of God by having the child baptized, promising to rear the child in the church, bringing the child to Sunday School and Worship every Sunday, teaching the child the Bible and values, and living an example for the child.

One of the best gifts of love a father can give his child is to love the child's mother. Paul tells husbands to love their wives as they love their own bodies. One of the best gifts a mother can give her child is to love the child's father, to love and respect him. Our Bible lesson this afternoon began in Ephesians 5:21 by Paul writing, "Be subject to one another." Christian marriage and a Christian family is where everyone is subject to one another, and all are subject to Christ. There is no head or foot, for Jesus Christ is the head of the home, and everyone is obedient to him. When everyone in the family loves the others, and is willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the others, then there is harmony, respect, and mutual interdependence. Mothers and fathers set the example for the children by the way they treat one another. Happy the home when Mother and Father hold hands with Jesus & child.

© 1990 Douglas I. Norris