Rev. Dr. John J. Lolla, Jr.
Text: Isaiah 66:13-14a
Old Testament: Proverbs 3:13-24
New Testament: I Thessalonians 2:7b-10
If you think the living room is the central room in a home, it’s not. It’s the kitchen. Kitchens are where families collect. It’s not by accident.
I know in this day and age it’s not correct to say the kitchen is the domain of the fairer gender. It isn’t. Many hunter gatherer types are proficient in the kitchen, today.
No one is a stranger who enters the sanctum sanctorum of the kitchen.
Where I grew up, in Northern Ohio, and where I’ve been blessed to live in Western Pennsylvania, kitchens transcend gender and generation. They appeal to young and old, women and men, and children.
New home designs locate kitchens in Great Rooms, where everyone gathers. Walls and doors don’t hide them from the rest of the house – a mysterious room where food is prepared. Kitchens are right in the middle of living. They are family focal points.
Are they simply the manufacturing center for our appetites? Or, do they have a greater purpose?
Kitchens are where the bread of life is leavened and baked.
Jesus was challenged by the kitchen’s lure. In John 6, we read bread appealed to thousands beside the Sea of Galilee. Loaves from someone’s kitchen drew hungry people to Jesus’ side. After He miraculously fed them, He left His adoring crowd to cross the sea for Capernaum. They followed the miraculous baker. He had less than a dozen. But He fed them all.
Jesus knew hungering for bread motivated them to cross the sea to find Him. When they caught up with Him, he disappointed them. He didn’t have what they wanted.
“You’re looking for me . . . because you ate your fill of bread. Don’t work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures . . . I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger.”
Jesus pointed His people to the real source of nourishment. He’s the source of life. His life, His teaching, His joy satisfies us in a way that a loaf of bread can never satisfy.
Which takes us back to the kitchen.
At first glance, what draws us to the kitchen is the aroma of food cooking. Our senses are stimulated by the smell of casseroles and roasts. It evokes memories of feasts and treats that have come from its oven. Kitchen smells collect us in anticipation of a great table that is set before us.
But what draws us to the kitchen also is even more precious, something more desirous, something more inspired. The kitchen is the great repository of life. There’s joy in the kitchen that pours from the love of the preparer of the family feast.
In the kitchen great conversations are shared, problems are solved, new solutions are discovered that give life. The kitchen doesn’t simply appeal to our stomach. It appeals to our heart and mind. In the kitchen lives the wisdom of life.
It’s not coincidence that the Hebrew Scriptures use a feminine noun to describe wisdom. In Hebrew it’s hokhma. In the Greek it’s sophia. In both languages, the word ends with the feminine vowel – “a”.
Wisdom is where God is depicted in a feminine sense. Wisdom is linked to God’s love and compassion. Wisdom is where God and motherhood are intimately connected. Isaiah 66’s words resound, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you,” says the Lord. How many times were you comforted in your kitchen by your mother’s wisdom?
When I was a youngster in Norwalk, Ohio, I took my bicycle for a spin in the neighborhood. It was the first of a lifetime of trips away from home. I didn’t make a habit of going up the street as far as I did that day. I was far enough from home that my parents could not help me when a squirrel jumped from a tree in front of my bike.
I swerved to avoid the little fella. I twisted the bike handle so hard that I fell off and hit my eyebrow on the concrete. I was a bloody mess. It was a little cut. But I couldn’t see a thing.
I fell on the front sidewalk of a Sunday school teacher from my Church. She saw me fall and helped me stagger up the street to our kitchen door. There was my mother, making lunch for me to return from my adventure. She didn’t expect what she saw.
Mom didn’t get upset. She saw the blood covering my face. Yet she quietly calmed me down, wiped me clean, and took me to the doctor with a smile.
“These things will happen, Jack. I’m sure you’ll be alright.”
These weren’t deep philosophical thoughts. These were calm words of wisdom that gave me comfort. Life would be alright in spite of the problems I would face. This was nothing that eleven stitches couldn’t fix.
God blessed each of us with mothers to impart wisdom for a lifetime. Their practical, philosophical, and theological understanding picked us up, comforted us, and sent us back out in life’s adventure. Their wisdom from love saw beyond the moment. They’ve helped us understand the bigger picture, just like Jesus did for the crowd wanting bread beside the Sea of Galilee.
Some of our mothers baked bread for us to be fed. But they nourished us with much more. They showed us that love is more than a four-letter word. It’s a life lived for us to live. Their self-offering for us teaches us about God’s love.
And so I offer thirteen wise thoughts from “Mom’s Baker’s Dozen” for us to celebrate on this Mother’s Day. Some are practical. They’re not quotes from the Bible. Others are philosophical. Their reason is plain common sense. Others are theological instructions for us to live. They comfort us with God’s love.
Listen carefully for a mother’s spiritual lessons for us today.
Shut the Door and Wipe your Feet
(Cleanliness is next to Godliness)
Clean Up after Yourself
Simple Things are Often the Best Things
(Matthew 6:26, 28 “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?)
Never Judge a Book or a Person by Their Cover
Try to be the Person Your Dog thinks You Are
(Remember, “Dog” is “God” spelled backwards)
Everyone has Something to Teach and Something to Learn
No Matter how Thin You Slice Something, there are always Two Sides
(Matthew 7:2 “With the judgment you make you will be judged
and the measure you give will be the measure you get.”)
Regrets over Yesterday and Fear of Tomorrow can Rob You of Today
(Matthew 6:34 “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.”)
Honesty in Little Things is Not a Little Thing
(Proverbs 24:26 “One who gives an honest answer gives a kiss upon the lips.”)
You don’t have to be Perfect to Love and be Loved
(John 3:17 “God sent His son into the world not to condemn the world, but that the world would be saved through Him.”)
A Cheerful Heart is Priceless
(Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”
It takes Practice to Forgive
(Ephesians 4:26 “Don’t let the sun go down on your anger.”
The Golden Rule is still the Best Rule!
Mothers are sources of Godly wisdom. Honoring them ought not be limited to today. The lessons we learned from them are serving us for an eternal lifetime.
Happy Mother’s Day! Amen.