Blessing Our Parents With Honor
About the Guest
Many parents wait a lifetime to hear a “thank you” from their children. Today on the broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks with pastor John Guest, Susan LeCornu and Vickie Case, all members of Christ Church at Grove Farm in Sewickley, PA, about the scriptural command to honor one’s parents. Find out what happened at Christ Church when parishioners took this exhortation to heart.
Many parents wait a lifetime to hear a “thank you” from their children.
Bob: The public expression of honor for one's parents is a powerful thing.
Woman: Words cannot truly capture the heartfelt thanks and the warm appreciation for you as my mom and dad. Thank you for …
Woman: One of my early memories of you, Dad, is kneeling with you and the whole family at one of our beds and praying together at bedtime, and then each …
Man: Thank you for the incredible patience I now know you had in enduring my adolescent irresponsibility and rebellion. Please know that your patience and love to me was not in vain …
Woman: You taught me about Jesus by taking me to Sunday school and church, and in the winter when there was too much snow to drive, you pulled me in the sled just so I would get to church and Sunday school. Thank you, Mother, for everything you have given me and thank you, God, for giving me my mother.
Bob: And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine, and it's powerful and profound to hear folks expressing honor in public, out loud, especially when there is a mom or a dad sitting there listening to it in public, hearing it out loud. There is something profound that happens there.
Dennis: I think when parents are honored not merely through a Mother's Day or a Father's Day service at church but truly honored from the heart by their children within the context of a church community, I don't think it gets any better than that. I think it's the church in its finest moment. It's redemptive, it's healing, it – well, it takes us all the way back to the Ten Commandments and, fortunately, we have one of America's leading pastors here, Dr. John Guest, joining us along with Susan Lecornu who leads the Women's Ministry, and Vickie Case joins us as well. Ladies, John, welcome back.
John: Thank you.
Susan: Thank you, Dennis.
Vickie: Thank you.
Dennis: They have launched a concept, Bob, that we felt like – well, we just wanted to come alongside them in their passion and their vision for Mother's Day and Father's Day and even larger than that for really fulfilling the Fifth Commandment, which says to honor your mother and your father.
Bob: And we recognize, there may be some people who hear us talk about this and think, "Boy, I wish I'd thought of this a few months ago so we could have gotten something like this started at our church," and it may be too late to try and do something for Mother's Day but probably not for Father's Day this year.
Dennis: I think it will work.
Bob: And even if you do have to postpone it until next year, you can start working now and sowing the seeds for something that can be very powerful for your church.
Dennis: Well, Christ Church at Grove Farm, which is near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has created what they call a "Tribute Sunday," and it's really – shall we call it the brain child of Vickie Case? Vickie's eyes are crossing at this point, and Susan Lecornu, they've teamed up, and they really pounced on their pastor and said, "You've got to do this." And John Guest, being the – just the easygoing pastor that he is of a church of 2,000 people said, "Whatever you ladies want to do," right, John?
John: Close to it, just because they'd make it happen.
Bob: Well, they came with vision, and they came with passion, and you knew you could count on them but, beyond that, you also had to say "There is something profoundly biblical about this idea."
John: Well, in trying to reach mothers and their families and/or fathers and the family to have an opportunity where you've got fired-up laypeople ready to go to work and get some kind of connection between a family and their mother by writing a tribute or the family and a dad or even going back to a dad that you've lost, or a mother who is gone, and saying things that you never got to say is so powerful.
I remember a man writing to me who had just lost his mother, and he wrote what he had written down after the death of his mother, and he wrote, "I wasn't ready for you to go." There were so many things left unsaid.
Dennis: Oh, yeah.
John: "I wasn't ready not to have you there to go to." This was a grown man. And to have that opportunity is so moving. I read my wife's tributes to her family, to her grandmother, and for her to write that – it moved me to tears to read it as she is speaking to a grandmother that she never knew.
Dennis: And to say it while the person is alive and not be standing beside a coffin.
John: Yes. Well, the point that you were making earlier, Bob, about it being great for a community to respond in this way, is one thing for me to have the blessing of passing on a tribute or watching my mother or father respond to that tribute and to get something said that needed to be said. But when the community is willing to publish, put out there for everybody else to see what's being said so that in our dining room at the café …
Dennis: In your church, you're speaking.
John: In our church, following the Sunday morning service, to have children coming up to me and saying, "Come and see my tribute." To have parents coming up to me and say, "Come and read the tribute that my children have written to me," and they are standing there sort of tears and kind of out of their minds with ecstasy that I am now reading the tribute that their children have paid to them as a mother or a father.
Bob: John, you know, these tributes – I know what I'm about to say is going to sound strange, but these tributes are just words. I mean, it's just words on paper.
John: Yes, but memory is stirred.
Bob: What power there is in expressing words of honor.
John: That are etched forever. They can take that piece of paper away. I remember, my mother kept all our notes and our cards, and so when she was ill in the hospital in England, we opened up a whole suitcase of cards from years, and there she is, and we're reading them, and we're crying, and she's crying, and it's just an amazing deal.
Dennis: John ran all the way out to the time when these tributes were displayed in the church's café, but how did you get there and how many tributes were there displayed in that café at that time?
Vickie: Well, I can tell you, for Mother's Day, we had over 60 displayed. We also did encourage people, though, if they didn't want to display it publicly to present their tribute privately. So we know that that happened. We had, I think, around 40 for Father's Day, so we had over probably 100-plus. We don't know how many more were given privately.
Bob: Now, you said this is a church that has 1,200 people who are attending, so it's 10 percent of the folks who are attending who participated in this.
Vickie: Yes, but I should also say that one of the things that we did do was contact children who didn't go to the church. We did as much of that as we could and just let them know what was going on. So we didn't want them to miss an opportunity to honor a parent.
Dennis: So the parents were still going to the church, but their adult children lived in other places around the country.
Susan: Correct, and some of those were e-mailed to us, Bob. We had someone who drove their tribute in.
Bob: Susan, when you walk into the cafeteria and there are 60 tributes hanging on the walls and people staring at them and reading them, I have to think there were people who, last Mother's Day, thought, "I better do this next Mother's Day or this Christmas.
Susan: Oh, yes, I can't wait to start our promotion and start talking about it. But Women's Ministry, women are really relational. We love this stuff, and we loved seeing relationships healed and relationships brought forward and coming to understand more about some of the folks in our church who might be kind of quiet, kind of in the background, share some of their deepest, heartfelt stories, all within the context of what God had brought about in their family and how God had provided for them with a mother or a father or a surrogate mother or a surrogate father.
There were three of this that wrote a triple tribute to a lady who has been in ministry forever, for 50 years, probably full-time ministry, a fabulous woman, and she never married, and the three of us wrote tributes to her thanking her for her motherly mentoring of each of us.
And after she read her tribute, she confessed to us that Mother's Day had always been a very painful and difficult day for her because she had no children, and that day she was honored by three surrogate daughters.
Vickie: And said to us later that there had been that hole in her heart, and she was very moved. She is a very good friend of John's, too, so John knows her well. So those kind of things we encouraged people to do a tribute to some – that someone special in their life even if it wasn't a biological parent.
Bob: So you did this last year, you're doing it again this year? And are you expecting that those who participated last year – are they supposed to think of somebody other than a parent? I mean, if I did this for mom last year, I wouldn't do it again, right – you wouldn't think?
Susan: They might want to bring it in again. I bet that mother and dad might like that.
Dennis: You think?
Susan: Yes, get honor whenever you can get it, right?
Dennis: You've heard me, because you've listened to the broadcast over the years, but you've heard me talk about my mom. I wrote a tribute to her. I made the mistake of shipping it to her. That is not the way to do it.
Bob: Rather than being there and reading it to her.
Dennis: Oh, I should have driven the four hours north of here and looked her in the eye and just wept. You know, just had that moment with her, but I didn't do it. But I sent it to her, and when she got it, and she opened it up, she had a great response. She goes, "Is this about your mean old mother? Is this about me, really?" And we laughed about that. My mom had a great sense of humor, and she hung that tribute up right above her Formica kitchen table where she, as a widow, had her meals for more than 35 years, and she'd hung it on the wall.
John, you're looking at some quotes from actual tributes that were – you and the other pastors actually read these publicly, is that right?
John: Some of these we read publicly as an incentive, you know, these came in early, we read them, got permission to do so, but we didn't always name who was sending them. So you've got everything from this – "You introduced me to the finer things in life like Dr. Pepper, root beer floats, Boston baked beans, and Zero bars."
Everything from that to this one – "The day you returned home from the war is etched in my memory. I couldn't hold back the tears and wanted to jump into your arms and welcome you home as you exited the bus. Thanks for being brave and serving our country at a difficult time and in a very complicated war."
This one here – "It is because of your unconditional love and tenderheartedness towards me that I have no trouble believing about my heavenly Father."
And then you've got this great statement here – "Three generations have been touched by your relationship with Jesus Christ. Your servant love for the family and friends, your patriotism, your playful spirit, and your handiness."
Bob: John, we've talked about the fact that you were almost held hostage to do this by these women who came and …
Dennis: It's not "these women," it's Susan and Vickie.
Bob: Susan and Vickie, who came …
Susan: Thank you, Dennis, we do have names.
Vickie: We appreciate that.'
Bob: They came with a sense of passion and urgency on this idea.
John: It's a shame that we don't have this on television to see these women. They would brighten up anybody's day.
Bob: When it was all said and done, when Mother's Day and Father's Day were over, did you think this really was a better idea than I imagined it would be when Susan and Vickie first presented it?
John: No question. When it was first presented, I thought, "This is women's stuff." Boy, I hope this will get broadcast in Pittsburgh.
John: Ouch. Well, just as Susan said, women are touchy-feely relational, and they get into this, but the guys loved it. And this isn't just about Father's Day, but when a husband sees his wife as a mother honored by the children and the impact on her, it's – the whole thing is very family-building. It blesses everybody. There's not a person involved in that communication who is not blessed.
Bob: And it had to have a profound impact on a lot of parent/child relationships to the point that there was healing going on; there was forgiveness taking place. I mean, God was at work in the midst of this.
Vickie: It's very hopeful to be honored, because when you're in the midst of anguish with your children, there is almost no consolation, so it is a very hopeful thing to be told that you're loved; that you're appreciated.
Susan: And remembered.
Vickie: And remembered. If we had time for a couple of other stories – do you have time, Dennis?
Vickie: One of them, a member of our congregation, she has – had two sons, but one was killed in a tragic accident many years ago, and we contacted the remaining son – asked him to write a tribute, and he did that, and we told the husband that the tribute was in the hall, and he wanted her– he brought her in before anybody else had come over from the sanctuary, because he wanted her to be alone with that tribute. He brought her to the tribute, she read it, and fell into her husband's arms. He had also put a picture of the other son on the tribute, and it was just a wonderful healing experience for both of them.
So many other stories we could share. How many hours do you have?
Dennis: It's interesting – when you wrote me the letter, and you sent me the packet of material – and this is what really excites me. Now, I'm thrilled for Christ Church at Grove Farm, I mean, I'm thrilled to see you doing that as a community, but when you want to start influencing hundreds of other churches and other congregations, that really excites me. Your vision is way beyond your church now. You are actually wanting to put together a kit, or an information packet …
Vickie: We've started already.
Dennis: So that a church can, if not this year, if it's not too late, and, Bob, I think if they really want to do this, they can pull it off.
Susan: It's not too late, it's underway.
Dennis: They have to be respectful, as these ladies were, as hard as they were on John, their pastor, they have to be respectful that there may already be some things planned for the church but if not Mother's Day, certainly Father's Day, it seems, would be an option even at this late day.
But you want to help other churches, and actually help other laymen and women do this in their church.
Vickie: Yes, and we, with your help, you could provide a link, and we will provide specifications, pictures of what we did, just everything that you can imagine would be, I hope, on that website. My husband is working on that now.
Bob: Let me just say, we do have a link on our website at FamilyLife.com to the website that you guys have put together so that listeners can come to our website and click where it says "Today's Broadcast," and that will take them to an area of the site where they'll find the link, and whether it's a layperson like you, Vickie, or a Women's Ministry Director, like you, Susan, or even a pastor like you, John, anybody can catch this vision and say, "Let's do this," and we can scramble and do it in the next three and a half weeks for Mother's Day, or we can decide to do it for Father's Day, because you've got time for that. Just look this over, pray about it, and it could be transformational in your church.
Vickie: And perhaps they could even combine, do a Tribute Sunday if they can't get it together quite for Mother's Day, they could do a Tribute Sunday for both. So that's an alternative. But everything they need will be on our site, and then there will also be contact information if they want to contact us.
John: The group we're going after this year, we're going to make it available to everybody, but the group we're going after this year are the 20, 30-somethings. They are such a unique crowd of young adults today, and they're kind of will-o'-the-wispish, you know, they're sort of here, they're around, they're interested, but they don't fall into the program categories that we normally put together for the rest of the folks.
But this, seems to me, to be something that will draw them out to give them an opportunity to get this taken care of at a very critical time in their own life development, because 20, 30-somethings, just very recently were the 16, 17, 18-year-old somethings who were the obnoxious, difficult, adolescents. You know, that was the battleground. They've only just come out of the battleground of adolescence, and if they can get this turned around quickly by paying a tribute, giving honor, bringing some healing, it's going to bless the 20, 30-somethings as well as their parents.
Dennis: No doubt about it, and I think you're onto something there because, you know, it was Jesus, when He spoke to the Pharisees, He said, "You honor me with your lips but your hearts are far from me," and it was all around the subject of bringing honor to their parents, and, personally, Bob's heard me make this statement many, many times when we've talked about this subject – I think we'll know when we start to see a genuine spiritual revival in our nation, in our churches. It will be when adult children, like you're talking about, begin to go home with honor to their parents.
And, Vickie, as I thought about your courageous leadership and you, too, Susan, supporting her and kind of being her cohort here, a verse came to my mind that, really, I think, typifies you two. It's from Daniel, chapter 11, verse 3 – "And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever." I think you're doing that, I think you're turning people's hearts back to God's Word and back to God's heart, and I just say, "Way to go, Susan, way to go, Vickie."
Vickie: Thank you.
Susan: Thank you, Dennis.
Bob: I don't know that I've shared this with you– you talk about 20- and 30-somethings …
Dennis: You're not 20- or 30-something.
Bob: No, I'm not, but I know some who are.
Bob: Last year at Christmastime, the last present that we opened was a computer screen. Now, this will give you a clue into the 20- and 30-somethings, but this computer screen was linked up to a site on the Internet, and my son, who is 19, pressed "click" on the computer, and there was my 26-year-old daughter's voice, and over the few days before Christmas since she got this idea, she had scrambled all of her brothers and sisters together, and they had recorded audio tributes to Mary Ann and me, and then Amy had edited it all together and put it in a little podcast for Mary Ann and me, and it was a wonderful part of our Christmas celebration. It was very meaningful for us, as parents, and I think that just goes to speak to the power of words of honor in the lives of parents.
You guys saw that at the church. Dennis, you've seen that for years, as you have interacted with people who have read your book, "The Best Gift You Can Ever Give Your Parents," and have followed through and written these kinds of tributes. There is power in this exercise, this spiritual endeavor.
We've got copies of the book that you wrote in our FamilyLife Resource Center, and if our listeners would like to go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and click on the right side of the screen where it says, "Today's Broadcast," that will take them to an area of the site where there is more information about the book you've written.
There is also a link to the website you ladies have put together to help people do at their church what you did at Christ Church at Grove Farm, where you can do this for a Mother's Day or for a Father's Day worship service.
Again, go to our website, FamilyLife.com. When you get to the home page, look to the right side of the screen where it says "Today's Broadcast." Click there, and that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about resources that are available from us here at FamilyLife to help you in this process of writing a tribute and information about how your church can host a Tribute Sunday on Mother's Day or on Father's Day.
If you'd prefer to call us for more information, the number is 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and someone on our team will make arrangements to get whatever you need sent out to you.
Speaking of sending you things, we've got a couple of CDs we'd like to send you this week. A while back, we sat down and talked with Dr. Emerson Eggerich, who is the author of the book, "Love and Respect," and we talked about the marriage relationship and what husbands and wives can do to show love and respect to one another. That conversation was captured on two CDs, and we would like to send them out to you this week.
All you have to do if you would like to receive them is call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. Just ask for the two CDs on "Love and Respect," and we'll send them out to you. I hope you listen to them and hope you'll pass them along to someone else who might benefit from hearing the conversation.
Again, the number to call is 1-800-FLTODAY and request your copy of the two CDs with Emerson Eggerich on the book, "Love and Respect."
Well, tomorrow we're going to talk about some of the lies that young women in our culture are falling for today, and then we're going to talk about the truth that can set those young women free. Nancy Leigh DeMoss is going to join us along with Dannah Gresh. We hope you'll be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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