Our house is full of daffodils which is rather lovely, and like everyone in church this Sunday we will leave church with a bunch of the pretty flowers that are synonymous with Spring. I do not remember in previous years the celebration of international women’s day, which was held last weekend but our potential son in law from Lithuania turned up last Sunday with a large bunch for my wife.
With the memory of women’s world day of prayer, and international women’s day fresh in our minds I think it appropriate to reflect a little today on women in the bible and what all of us, men women and children can take away from their stories this years Mothering Sunday, along with a bunch of daffodils and the hope of a special lunch.
When looking for the stories of women in the bible we meet with a diverse and forthright group.
Eve of course is the first woman, and although there is much written about her disobedience and sinfulness what is sometimes forgotten is the anguish this mother must have felt when she looked upon the dead body of her second born son, Able and the shame she that must have been hers when she realized that he had been killed by his brother Cain. Eve was the first but by no means the last mother who has had to carry that sword of pain to her grave, a son lost to violence.
|Moses and Jochebed by Pedro Américo,|
The story of the Exodus is a powerful one that speaks of God responding to the cry of his people who are enslaved in Egypt. It is through the prophet and leader Moses that God is able to bring his people to freedom, through the Red Sea and into the wilderness where they are give the 10 commandments but for their disobedience denied in his life time the promised land. None of this would have been possible without the cunning determination of a desperate and protective mother. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, defies the powerful Pharaoh and so ensures the survival of her son in the very house of her greatest enemy. And so many a mother has with cunning determination ensured that their child is allowed to live in the face of those who would harm or even seek to destroy their very life.
The pages of the bible tell of many women who show courage, compassion, political astuteness along side the more commonly identified characteristic associated with childbearing and nurturing. Think of Sarah, Rachel, Ruth and Hannah, Deborah and Rahab and alongside those form the Hebrew scriptures we have in our own scriptures Mary and Elizabeth, The nameless Syrophoenician woman who refused to take no for an answer and the woman who anointed the body of Jesus with costly oil and gained the promise that what she had done would never be forgotten in memory of her. Then in the pale dawn as the sun was rising There is Mary Magdalene and the women greeting the risen Lord.
Today is a day to remember those women, but also to remember that all of us are called to bear the word of God to this world, just as Mary bore the child Jesus, the word of God.
Today is a day to remember the courage of many of whose women we find in the pages of scripture but so to for each one of us to have the courage of our convictions in our daily lives and with compassion and confidence proclaim the gospel afresh to this generation
Today is a day to remember the pain of loss, to acknowledge the sword that pieces our heart, and so draw strength and inspiration from their experiences and stories
We might think about our own lives – our experiences of mothering or of being mothered; remembering with thanksgiving the people who have care for us and love us. And perhaps we might also think of times when we have been failed by those who were supposed to care for us, or those times when we ourselves have failed.
If mothering were only done my mothers, it would be very hard indeed to ensure that everyone received the nurturing, the protection, the love, the sacrifice, the guidance and love that we need to become the people we are meant to be.
As a church community, we are called into a role of mothering that sometimes might need to be just as desperate, fierce, loyal, and filled with pain as the mothers we read of in the bible. If we, as a church, truly love the community in which we are situated, just as God loves it, and if we are to be God’s holy people for God’s needy world, then we will feel the pain of the world’s suffering, and we will be willing to sacrifice something of ourselves in order to bring to birth God’s purposes for the world.
On the cross, God’s love is nailed firmly to the world so as never to let it go – is our love for the world so firmly fixed as this? Are we this passionate about nurturing the world into becoming the place that God created it to be?
A truly parental love is one that would give anything and everything for the child. This is the love of God that we see on the cross, but this is also the love that we are called to have for one another and for all of God’s creation. When we love like that, we make God visible in the world.