I preach the Lectionary. It is a disciplined 3 year journey through the Scriptures. It usually includes passages from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the Epistles (letters to churches and individuals) and the Gospels. If you look at our weekly bulletin you will find many of these themes in The Preparation for Worship, The Call to Worship, The Scripture Reading that I’m highlighting in my sermon and even in The Prayer of Approach. Except for today… on Mother’s Day.
While the Lectionary does not consider Mother’s Day a High Holy Sunday; pastors are wise to do so... We are human and fallible and in spite of claims to the otherwise, our Mother’s are not or have not all been perfect. But maybe that is what makes them so special in our lives. Tired, frustrated, broken-hearted at times and yet in the midst of all of this there is strength within these women that we simply gaze upon in amazement.
Not all of our Mother’s have given us birth. Joan is a very special woman who never had a baby and yet considers me her first child. Naomi and Esther took me into their home and hearts for many years until their death. There have been other women in my life who have created bonds of love and have given of themselves. Looking back I have been extraordinarily blessed by these women. The common thread is that each one of them gave me something of their heart and in so doing felt joy in my joys and heartache in my pain. I think it is that sacrifice that makes a Mother’s Love a reflection of God in the world.
My birth Mother died June 30, 2000. At the moment of her death she was creating a gift for one of her children. My brother’s life journey had taken him down a road that led to a Texas State prison. Mom was, “A window to his world.” She wrote letters every day describing her life and thoughts and I suspect, at times included a financial gesture that she could ill afford. But that’s what Mothers often do… and her gift to my brother became a gift for all of us.
She died sitting in a comfortable chair in the living room with the breeze from the screen door gently blowing in from Lake Michigan several blocks away. She had placed a pad of stationary on a table near the chair and had removed her glasses, placed them on the writing pad, folded her hands and simply died. She was 64 and it was totally unexpected. After the shock settled we realized that the letter gave us all an amazing insight into the last moments of her life.
My Mother had not always been accepted by the women of the church. In some ways they considered her more the Mary Magdalene type than Mary the Mother of Jesus. Of the five men in her life she had been married to three. No doubt she had been the topic of many conversations over the years. But the years had changed their perspectives and some who had been less than gracious now appreciated the fact that Mom was still able to drive while some of them could not… and Mom was happy to be accepted.
She had written in the letter how she had attended an event at the church and that they had run out of coffee. We found the old aluminum pot on the stovetop. She wrote how her neighbor, Laura had baked a custard pie that she looked forward to sampling (I inherited this trait from her)… It was left uncut.
Our Gospel passage describes how Jesus looked down from the cross and saw his Mother with his disciple, John standing next to her. It tells how in his last moments of life he entrusted them to each other. Many readers note how John took her into his home from that day forward assuming that Jesus was ensuring his Mother’s care.
As I reflect on the words shown in my Mother’s letter I believe that Jesus was not only ensuring Mary’s care but he was also giving a final gift to the disciple whom he loved… and in seeing this universal Mother’s love in the world we are seeing into the heart of God.