Mother’s Day Sermon by Teresa Coulthard for Parkview United Church – May 11, 2014. Sermon Topic: No Matter What


Mother’s Day Sermon by Teresa Coulthard  – May 11, 2014.  Sermon Topic: No Matter What


Gospel Lesson: Luke 8: 1 – 3 – Some Women Accompany Jesus

Jesus traveled with his 12 disciples through Galilee, spreading the good news about God and God’s message. But they did not travel alone. Our passage today from the Book of Luke chapter 8, verses 1-3, tells us about their unsung, but very important helpers.


After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” (NIV)




It is my privilege to be here today, on this very special day, to help celebrate and honour the women in all of our lives… mothers, & grandmothers, mothers-in-law and step mothers… and to give thanks for the women in our lives that also served as mother figures to us – women such as aunts & sisters, friends & neighbours, teachers & coaches.


Today, with the sunny but slightly cool weather, with a hint of spring definitely in the air – reminds me of a memorable Mother’s day, 15 years ago – in 1999.


Let me back up a bit. Thirty years ago – Uh oh, I think I’m really dating myself… oh well.   Thirty years ago, for some strange reason, I decided I to wanted to learn to fly. So, I went to the Stratford airport and signed up for flying lessons. The airplanes used for training were very small, and in the cockpit there were 2 seats side by side and 2 sets of flight controls. It was a tight squeeze for 2 people.


Being airborne… well it’s hard to describe. I felt such a sense of freedom… every flight was different – different weather conditions, different runways, different training exercises, different instructors. Every flight introduced new challenges. I just loved it and I was hooked!


After months and months of flying lessons, I got my Private pilot’s licence…. but I wanted to keep learning. So for several more years, I kept taking flying lessons (as often as my bank account allowed) at the Stratford and Waterloo airports, and I obtained my Commercial Pilot’s licence and eventually a Flying Instructor’s rating as well – which allowed me to teach people how to fly.


After I had been a pilot and flying instructor in small airplanes for 13 years, I finally had enough experience to apply to the airlines, and I was thrilled when I was eventually hired by a company called Royal Airlines. Their head office was in Montreal, but they also had a base in Toronto and Vancouver. Royal Airline’s business was to fly Canadian travelers to Mexico and the Caribbean Islands for their vacations during the winter months.


I was initially hired as a second officer on a Boeing 727, which is the 3rd seat in the cockpit – I sat behind the Captain and co-pilot and I faced an instrument panel on the side wall – and it was my job to monitor lights, gauges and aircraft systems on this side panel. I learned a lot about flying jet airplanes while I was sitting in this 3rd seat in the cockpit, watching everything, so it was a great way for me to transition from small airplanes to big ones.


A few years later, I was excited, but nervous when Royal decided to train and upgrade me to the co-pilot position on a Boeing 757. Okay, I wasn’t just nervous, I was quite terrified to actually fly such a large airplane … I went from flying airplanes with up to 6 seats to flying an airplane with 186 seats. As you can imagine, the training in the classroom and in the simulators was very intensive and thorough, and I am happy to report that I made it through the training – and I was reassured to see that the instructors kept a really close watch – especially the first time we did takeoffs and landings in an empty 757. My palms are still sweaty just thinking back to those first flights at the controls, but like anything, the more you do it, the more comfortable you get.


As I mentioned, the winter months were the busy season for us, so in order to avoid summer lay-offs, Royal Airlines arranged a sub-contract for a British airline company, called Air 2000. Summer was the busy season for Air 2000 in England – and it was going to be our job to use our own 757 airplane to fly British travelers or “holidaymakers” as they called them – to Mediterranean destinations, like Greece, Spain and the Canary Islands.


So our company, Royal, arranged for 6 Captains and 6 co-pilots and one 757 airplane to move to England – to the London Gatwick airport, which was going to be our base for the next 6 months. Yep, me and eleven guys. I was thrilled to have this opportunity and I was really excited – what an adventure! We arrived in England in April of 1999, did the required training to learn about European airspace and whatnot, and got started right away.


We would fly a full airplane of British vacationers from London-Gatwick to a hot and sunny Mediterranean airport, unload everyone, refuel the airplane, reload a different group of passengers that had just finished their vacations and be heading back to England less than an hour later. Yes, we were flying to these wonderful, exotic places, and all I saw was the airport tarmac! But I’m not complaining… it was the adventure of a lifetime.


So back to Mother’s day in 1999… We had been working out of Gatwick airport now for about a month, and those of us pilots that didn’t have to work arranged to meet at a local village pub for lunch on Sunday. The pub was a one-storey building brick building with small windows. The inside was dim and there was a bar at one end. I can remember the weather that day – it was cool, but sunny, finally – and the warmth of the sun felt wonderful on my face after so many cloudy days. We all decided to sit on a small sheltered outdoor patio to soak up the precious sunshine.


Our group of about 8 Canadians ordered lunch and were just chatting back and forth… to the curiosity of the locals, who could tell from our accents that we were NOT locals. And soon enough someone asked us where we were from and what we’re doing there, and before you know it, the nearby tables joined us in one big conversation. It was delightful chatting to the locals!


Because we had been away from home for about a month now, we all lost track of the days… but luckily one of my coworker’s wives realized what day it was and said “Hey, today is Mother’s day! We must all remember to phone our mothers when we’re done.” Oh yes, absolutely! We all agreed and thanked her for reminding us!


And a curious local asked us what Mother’s day was – and we explained that it was a day to pay tribute to our mothers and thank them for all they’ve done for us. And she said, “Oh yes, that’s just like our Mothering Sunday which was a month ago”. Ah, yes. Exactly.


So there we were, 3000 miles away from home, a group of 30 and 40 year old, cool as a cucumber, macho airline pilots, finishing our lunch in silence because the only thing that was important was to go back to our apartments and phone our mothers……



Women are usually not given a lot of press coverage in the bible. However, our gospel message today indicates that women were vitally important to Jesus’ ministry.


If we think back to the historical time of Jesus, we need to remind ourselves that, generally, women of that time were held in very low regard. So the fact that Luke mentions three women by name, and that there were “many others”, means something significant was going on. In fact, he mentions the women in the same breath that he mentions the 12 disciples.


Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, spreading the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases:”


Mary Magdalene had struggled with, and had been cured of numerous problems and illnesses. Mary could have returned to her home in Magdala to live a life of comfort and ease, but she didn’t.


Most of us here today have likely experienced life on the road at some point – either because of work or travel, and most of us would probably agree that life on the road is a lot more tiring and not nearly as comfortable as life at home. After Mary had been healed, why didn’t she just go back home and send money to the mission? Or send her servants? Why did Mary choose to travel as part of the mission team herself, instead?


We also hear about “Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household.”


The fact that Joanna was allowed to travel with Jesus, without her husband, was quite remarkable for the times. It is also curious that she was traveling with Jesus and his disciples when her husband worked for King Herod – the King who felt his authority was threatened by Jesus, and who viewed Jesus as his enemy. And why, when Joanna’s husband had a good job working for the king, and they no doubt had a comfortable home, why did Joanna choose a life on the road, moving from village to village, eating food cooked on open fires, and sleeping in tents crowded with “many other” women, night after night, on the cold, hard ground?


And we also learn of “Susanna” and that there were “MANY OTHERS”, as well.


So, there were 3 women named, and “many others” that were not named, and we are told that these women provided for Jesus and the twelve disciples “out of their own means.” Yes, these women contributed from their own financial resources to fund the mission again and again. In fact, they were the only financial supporters of Jesus’ mission that were ever mentioned.


But there is more to it than that. These women not only supplied the money, they also took up the task of preparing and serving the food for the mission. And, in addition, because it was frowned upon during those times if men and women spoke together when they were not related – these loyal women assisted the mission by ministering to the needs of the women in the crowds that came to see Jesus.


But these women did not serve out of a desire for recognition… they served out of gratitude, thanksgiving and love for the way Jesus had healed them, and remarkably changed their hearts and their lives. These women were in a perfect position to then be able to encourage, counsel and help the many suffering women who came to Jesus by recounting how their own lives had been amazingly healed and changed.


These women continued to follow Jesus, not only through Galilee, but also on to Jerusalem. They are the women who stood by Jesus at the cross, and who were the first to come to the empty tomb. These were faithful women – faithful in helping Jesus and the twelve disciples, faithful in staying with Him even in danger, faithful even after His death. They were among those present and praying at the time of Pentecost.


No wonder Luke felt they deserved to be honoured for their numerous contributions to the work of Jesus’ ministry. He commends the women for their faithfulness and commitment to spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God… No Matter What.


Gathering and preparing food, working together to accomplish tasks, contributing financial resources, comforting the suffering and the grieving, ministering to each other, to the needs of the congregation, to the community, helping to make the world a better place, and spreading the news about God’s love – that’s what those faithful women did then, and that’s what the women in this church are doing now.… And I am proud to say that the men in this church are doing these things, as well.


These women who follow Jesus set a wonderful example for us… they are the good mothers and mother-figures in our own lives. Mothers spend endless hours/weeks/years feeding us, teaching, watching, & encouraging us, and disciplining us when we need it. As children grow and change, the mother-child relationship also grows and changes, and sometimes there is friction. … But one thing that doesn’t change is unconditional love – both ways.


To all moms: we want to thank you for your dedication and commitment to our lives and our well-being. We want to thank you for all of the time you spent with us, and all the sacrifices you made for us. A mother’s love is truly a wonderful example of unconditional love… it’s the kind of love that these faithful women had for Jesus and his mission… it’s the kind of love that God has for each one of us… and it’s the kind of love that says …“I will always love you, No Matter What”.