St. Augustine of Hippo


Episcopal Church

 


“My Mother’s Gift: Live Not in Fearfulness But Live in Faithfulness”


May 13, 2018


The Reverend Nathanael Saint-Pierre 



The following text will be received by many as self-referential. Today is a day I could not care less about being judged or even condemned. It is Mother’s Day and, nothing, I must also say, no one will deter me from expressing my gratitude to the woman who has prepared me for “The Road.”

Jesus, facing death, realized that his friends needed to be prepared for the road.  As someone who knew it would soon be time for good-byes, he prayed for them, teaching them that when the future seems confused and hopelessness is the only light to grab to win over darkness, prayer can help us all get out of fear to live in faith.

Some things are easier said than done, to the point where prayer might appear unnecessary.

Jesus wanted his friends to be equipped for the road and I don’t know a mother who doesn’t want her children to be prepared for the road ahead: life.

My mother was not a college graduate. She had her high school diploma and was trained to be a nurse. This was in the 1960s in Haiti. She didn’t have the best life. Women were not believed to contribute much to society. All she needed was to have the right husband, according to my grandmother. So, her marriage was arranged with a man who was old enough to be her father.

It was a woman in revolt who became my mother in a second marriage that she decided to engage in on her own terms. She was a pioneer in her own way. Not living in fear under a dictatorial regime, she entrusted herself only to God, and educated me with those values.

So, today, in Jesus’ prayer, I heard my mother’s voice (yeah! I might be crazy). She is repeating the same refrain to the thousands with TPS, living in fear of deportation, to the millions of colored people fearing the coming back of a past that was terrifying, to God’s people oppressed wherever they are: “Stay connected to God, pray consistently and unceasingly, and God won’t let you down.” Because God has not, is not and will not let down those who rely on him for the dance of love.

No more fear! We must risk standing against the oppressive systems, look them straight in the eye, confident in the power of prayer. My mom taught me to have the courage of my convictions. She taught me to take risks because God always watches over me. It is that faith that brought her to the mountains and countryside to heal the sick. She didn’t just preach the gospel, she lived it. It is faith that, when I could have had a life abundant with wealth gained in a corrupted system,  pushed me to leave and risk an adventure with an unknown outcome. But God hasn’t let me down. In every step of my life mother was right. When I thought it was impossible, God made it possible. When I thought it was all over, finished, and done, God placed me in new beginnings. When I thought I was lost, God found me and I am not here today because of my own; I am here today because God is still using me. 

Faith is not to never be afraid; it is to never let fear prevent us from risking. It is to have the assurance that every fall will be followed by redemption. It is to be assured that the end belongs to God and it is not over until God says so.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you. Happy Mother’s Day to those women who, like my mom, teach their children to take risks, to control their fear and to rely entirely on God. Happy Mother’s Day to those who fall in prayer instead of letting fear win. Happy Mother’s Day to all who live Faithfully instead of fearfully. Amen.