Monday, May 13, 2024

A Confluence of Influence” Acts 1:1-11 May 12, 2024 Rev. Annie Watson, Holy Family Catholic Church



Before my husband and I moved to Weimar, Texas for his new calling in a Protestant congregation, we lived in St. Louis County in Missouri. Our home was just a short drive away from the confluence of two major rivers, the Missouri, which is the longest river in the continental United States, and the Mississippi, which is the second longestThey differ in their lengths by only a few miles. 

On occasion, we drove to North County, parked our car, and walked down a trail to the spot where the two rivers merge into one. It is here that the Missouri flows into the Mississippi, a beautiful display of nature’s artistry and energy. 

As I stood at the confluence of these two mighty, powerful, fast-flowing rivers, I was aware of the contrast with the promise of the 23rd psalm, that God will “lead us beside still waters.” More importantly, I was reminded of the words of the prophet Amos, who famously declared that “justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” 

Most of us enjoy spending time on the bank of a river, watching the current’s gifts and the occasional splash of a playful fish. Standing on the bank of the place where two rivers flow into one, however, is a special moment. 

Today is a day when two rivers flow into one. It is a day when a secular holiday, Mother’s Day, and a religious holy day, the Ascension of Our Lord, merge together. 

At first glance, these two events have nothing in common. Mother’s Day, which has been around for centuries in other countries, has its American “headwaters” in the early 20thcentury when Anna Jarvis, a peace activist, organized the first Mother’s Day service of worship as a way to celebrate mothers and mother figures.

Ascension Day, on the other hand, was technically this pastThursday, May 9, but many parishes celebrate it on the following Sunday, which is today. Ascension Day commemorates Jesus’ victory over deathhis salvation for all those who believe in him, and his exaltation.

Two separate but special events. Since I can’t share two separatehomilies with you this morning, let us merge the two into one just as the Missouri and Mississippi rivers merge into one.Today is a confluence of Mother’s Day and Ascension Day.

So, what is the primary point where Mother’s Day and Ascension Day merge together like the confluence of two rivers? My answer to that question is found in the word influence. Notice that the words “confluence” and “influence” share the same Latin root word, fluere, which means “to flow.” 

Literally, “confluence” means “to flow with” and “influence” means “to flow in.” I know I’m doing a little bit of a deep dive here, so all I ask of you is that you are willing to “go with the flow.

All holidays and holy days are influential, or else we wouldn’t celebrate or observe them. They all have their beginning or “headwaters” in some important event. They becomemeaningful, significant, and important for one reason or another. Over time, they become traditions, our heritage that has been passed down from generation to generation.

Even if they don’t cause a big “splash” in our lives, they areinfluential. Even if some of us go through this day without talking with or remembering our mothers or mother figures, their influence is still there, hopefully in a good way

Even if we don’t give one more thought to the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ after we leave here this morning, he still has enormous influence in our lives. Something today will flow into us, even if we aren’t aware of it or looking for it.

As I reflect on the influence of these two events—Mother’s Day and Ascension Day—there are other words that flow out of myrelentless stream of thought.” For example, I think of the wordexaltationWe have a need to exalt people who have had significant influence on us

For most of us, our mothers have been, or still are, the most influential people in our lives, so we tend to exalt them, to put them on a pedestal, to keep them close in our hearts. We do this if for no other reason than they allowed their bodies to undergo great stress and pain in order to bring us into this world, to give us physical life

Even if that’s literally the only thing they ever did for us, that’s profound.

Similarly, we exalt our Lord Jesus Christ for bringing usspiritual life, for giving us new life, life in the Spirit, abundant life, and eternal life, which is more than profound.

Today, the river representing our mothers and the river representing our Lord, merge into one. We exalt them for the influence they had had in our lives. We honor them for their sacrifices, wisdom, and guidance they have given to us. We celebrate them for their nurturing presence and strength. We cherish them for their unconditional love and constant encouragement.

We especially revere our moms and our Lord when things get difficult, when life gets hard, when the waves get high, when the rapids get rocky. They provide for us a life raft as we continue to navigate the powerfulfast-flowing, and often dangerous waters of life. 

May the confluence of Mother’s Day and Ascension Day influence us to be the people God wants us to be. Amen.

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