Exodus 2: 1-10. Moses as a baby cast adrift in the Papyrus basket and found by Pharaoh’s daughter is a testament to the mothering instinct no matter who is the actual biological mother.
Colossians 3: 12-17. How Christians of either sex are required to live. The qualities listed might be regarded by some as typically feminine qualities and seen by some as being signs of weakness. But to have the capacity to act differently and yet choose to be humble, and forgiving requires great strength and is characteristic of Jesus himself.
Luke 2: 33-35. The pain of seeing your children suffer in any way is characteristic also of both mothers and fathers, but the maternal link tends to mean that the pain finds greater traction in women.
In the exodus story we read about the miraculous deliverance of a future leader of the Hebrew people within the context that every baby Hebrew boy was supposed to be killed;
But it is the way he was saved and who saved him that is pertinent to us today because jt was down to the determined and resourceful action of particular women; his mother and sister and even the daughter of Pharaoh who flatly disobeyed her father to raise a foreign child.
This story sets the scene for mothering Sunday – celebrating that primal bond between mothers and their children. Now I know that the church’s traditional understanding of Mothering Sunday was a day when you visited your Mother church, but frankly we lost that particular cultural battle many moons ago and to all and sundry this is Mother’s Day, when we celebrate mothers in particular but women more generally.
For obviously not all woman are blessed with children. For many that is a huge sadness on an epic scale and is not of their choosing; some choose not to have children; but without exception everyone of us has a mother.
None of the characteristics listed by Paul in Colossians is exclusive to women of course, but on the whole society has generally seen them perhaps as dominant in women rather than men.
Theologically of course men and women are created equal but different and complimentary. We are together made in the image of God so it is together that we complete that image.
Characteristics and virtues traditionally attributed to either sex find their fulness when combined as in Jesus – our example of a perfect human being. Perfect not least because he is the complete deal.
Compassion, kindness, humility and patience and forgiveness are for everyone just as traditional male virtues of strength, courage, honour, loyalty and prudence are for everyone, not just men.
Jesus Christ, our exemplar, combined the whole range of virtues attributed to both men and women, in a single person.
But we are not perfect. Though we aim to be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be – bearing fruit in accordance with repentance – fruit by its nature doesn’t just appear overnight. Fruit grows over time and grows better in good soil with good nutrition, well-watered and with adequate sunlight.
For our fruit to grow I have heard the soil likened to the word of God, watered by the Spirit, and nurtured by the light of Christ.
Simeon with great insight saw what was before him, when Jesus as a baby was presented in the Temple.
He could see that if Jesus were to follow God’s will tragedy would befall him and if there is something that no one would wish on their worst enemy it would be to witness their children suffering or dying.
I do know that there are people in this congregation now who have had to do that and my heart goes out to you.
You know something of the pain that Mary would have suffered on Good Friday when she had to witness her son, her little boy, tortured and murdered.
For whatever happens in the relationship between a mother and her children, she never stops being your mother and you never stop being her son or daughter.
And we have to be realistic. Some relationships can be tense. If your relationship with your mother was difficult; pray for forgiveness for both of you or even reconciliation if that is still possible in this life.
If your relationship was good; Give thanks to God
For solid quality relationship lies at the heart of the Christian faith. Christianity is at its root a relationship with God through Jesus the Son.
A good healthy relationship with your mother and father is a natural corollary of that basic relationship.
In Christianity that good healthy relationship with your biological mother and father is to be extended to everyone around you, especially to others in the church. Jesus has some very hard sayings on that subject, but those hard sayings find their finest expression when from the cross Jesus says to his mother “Woman here is your son” referring to John and to John he says “Here is your mother”.
We are asked to break through the barriers of biological kinship and extend our scope to include others in a spiritual relationship undergirded by Love.
Undergirding all our relationships is Love, which today we find expression in the role of mothers.
As Paul says today;
“Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”