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“The Greatest Name, Mother”

I want to start with something funny that I found on an internet site: One early morning, a lady went in to wake up her son. “Wake up, son. It’s time to go to school!” The son said, “But why, Mom? I don’t want to go.” The mom said, “Give me two reasons you don’t want to go.” The son said, “Well, the kids hate me for one, and the teachers hate me, too!” The mom said, “Oh, that’s no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready.” The son said, “Give me two reasons why I should go to school.” The mom said, “Well, for one, you’re 52 years old. And for another, you’re the principal!”

For a mother, who is eighty years old, her fifty-two years old son is still like a baby to her. Today is Mother’s Day Sunday, and is observed the second Sunday in May; this day honors all mothers. According to the Book of Worship, “It began in its present form with a special service in May 1907 at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Crafton, West Virginia. The service was organized by a Methodist laywoman, Anna Jarvis, to honor her mother, who had died on May 9th, 1905. By 1908 Anna Jarvis advocated that all mothers be honored on the second Sunday in May. In 1912 the Methodist Episcopal Church recognized the day and raised it to the national agenda.”

Every year, when Mother’s Day comes, I remember my mother and miss her so much. She ran a traditional Korean dress shop. Her sewing skills were excellent, and she was a very famous traditional dress designer. She made my first dress for me when I graduated from high school and the second one for me was when I graduated from the seminary. When I ran a preschool, she made my new dresses every year when the preschool had a graduation ceremony. My mother used to say, “When you become a pastor, I will make your robe.” However, she passed away before I became a pastor. I also experienced two separate house fires in which I lost many personal items, which included the dresses my mother made for me. So I do not have anything that my mother made for me. When I graduated from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago with a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2016, I missed my mother so much. I wanted to wear a traditional Korean dress, in remembrance of my mother. I asked my younger sister to send me a dress to wear at my graduation if she had any traditional Korean dresses my mother had made, expecting she had at least one. But, she said, she didn’t have any of hers because after giving birth, they didn’t fit her any longer and so she gave them away.

However, she found one at my mother’s house after my mother passed away. My younger sister thought it must be valuable to my mother because it was founded in a precious box, and she kept it. So, I asked her to send it to me so I could wear it at my graduation. As soon as I saw it, I was surprised by the dress because it was the one I wore when I graduated high school, which was the first dress she made. She kept it until she died. I wore the dress when I received my Ph. D. degree.

Every Mother’s Day, I remember my mother through the dress she made for me; and through the paper flowers I used to make for my mother and father. My mother made a silk dress for me, and I made paper flowers for her. It couldn’t compare with her dress, but it was the best idea I had as a child, to make paper flowers for her on Mother’s Day. Since I learned how to make paper flowers at school when I was nine years old, I made flowers for my parents every Parent’s Day. Korea has a Parent Day on May 8th, no Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Remembering my parents, who have passed away, I respect and honor all of you like my parents. So, I will give you the paper flowers I made. For fathers, I will provide you one on Father’s Day.

Today’s scripture continues Jesus’ farewell speech. Even though he knew he would die soon, he was deeply concerned about his disciples who would be left behind him. “Believe in God and me. Don’t trouble in your hearts, but stay in love. If you love me, keep my commandments, and then I will ask the Father to give you another Advocate to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees nor knows him. You know him because he abides with you, and he will be in you.” Jesus, who was to die soon, just worried about his disciples, who would be full of fear and disappointment. And he promised that God would send the Holy Spirit to them and be with them forever, protecting and guiding them. And, he said, “I will not leave you orphaned.” When I read these words, I felt Jesus’ deep love toward his disciples, like that of a mothers’ love. A mothers’ love would never leave their children like orphans. Mothers may have babysitters to watch over their children if they are busy but they don’t take the place of a mother’s love.

I want to introduce a part of a “Mother’s Love” story written for Good Housekeeping Magazine in 1933 by Temple Bailey ( “A mother is more than a memory. She is a living presence. Your mother is always with you. She’s the whisper of the leaves as you walk down the street; she’s the smell of certain foods you remember, flowers you pick, and perfume that she wore; she’s the cool hand on your brow when you’re not feeling well; she’s your breath in the air on a cold winter’s day. She is the sound of the rain that lulls you to sleep, the colors of a rainbow; she is your birthday morning. Your mother lives inside your laughter. And she’s crystallized in every tear drop.”

“A mother shows through in every emotion-happiness, sadness, fear, jealousy, love, hate, anger, helplessness, excitement, joy, sorrow, all the while hoping and praying you will only know the good feelings in life. She’s the place you came from, your first home, and she’s the map you follow with every step you take. She’s your first love, your first friend, even your first enemy, but nothing on earth can separate you-not time, not space, not even death!” Mother is the greatest name in the world.

In that case, it is very similar to God’s love for us. God is our first and final. We learn God’s love partly from our mother’s and father’s love. Yes, I know, some parents abuse their children without knowing what “love” is. I pray for the mothers and fathers who couldn’t take care of their children, that they may learn ‘love’ through God’s love and grace because they also are beloved by God. God bless all mothers! Thanks be to God. Amen!