We want to honour our mums today, our biological, our nurturing and our spiritual mums. We know that it isn’t easy being a mum today, if it ever was! There are many mixed expectations. Part of our culture expects mums to be back at work after 6 months, part of our culture expects mums to be nurturing their children until they leave school, part of our culture expects mums to hold a household together, part of our culture expects mums to get an extra degree while the kids are small. Get up and get dressed, get the kids up, check the kids homework, make breakfast, make lunches, get the kids to schools, get to work (look like a million dollars), advance in your career, pass Go and collect $200, spend that $200 on sports fees, go and watch a child at assembly, pick the kids up, make a yummy afternoon tea, take the kids to sports practice, do the homework. Or pick kids up from after school care after a long work day, make dinner, do some extra hours for work, do some study, wash clothes, clean the toilet, take a child to their job, say hello to your husband, go to bed, get up to pick up child from job, worry about daughter out on date, collapse.
Now, if you’re married, hopefully a fair bit of that is shared but for our single mums it isn’t. Maybe you don’t do it al, but this Mother’s Day I want to do two things – say thank you – and say thank you again. Mums shouldn’t have to be super mums, but you all are. God bless you.
Today I want to take Mary, the mother of Jesus, and celebrate her as a mum. By the way, Mary comes from Miriam, which means wisdom.
Reading 1: Mary Consented. (Luke 1:38) “Mary answered, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.’ Then the angel left her.” First, Mary was a real woman, a country girl and the first thing we celebrate about her, is she just said yes. When the angel came to her and asked her to carry the baby Jesus she just said ‘yes’. A lot of life is just about turning up and doing the things that God asks us to do.
I want to honour biological mums, foster mums, spiritual mums today. We’re all here today because our biological mums said yes when they found out they were pregnant with us. Let’s honour our mums for carrying us, for providing a shelter for us in their own bodies for our lives to begin. Jesus’ conception was a miracle, but his gestation was ordinary – 9 months of loving care.
Reading 2: Mary Contemplated. (Luke 2:19) “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” After Jesus was born, a bunch of shepherds turned up at Mary’s place. Mary was a hospitable mum. I see mums all the time who invite their kid’s friends, and friends friends, around. Kids that race around the house, kids that get into everything, kids parties, kids sleepovers. Mary (the blessed virgin Mary our Catholic sisters call her) was a saint. She was and is a model of discipleship. While I don’t think we should pray to her, we should remember that she is a very strong model of discipleship. So the shepherds came and visited Mary and she treasured these things in her heart. This is what mums do, they remember our stories and they tell us our stories and this is part of making a home. It’s not just the place, it’s the stories and the treasuring, it’s that loving that gives a child a sense of belonging.
Reading 3: Mary Contemplated. (Luke 2:51) “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.” Hold on, isn’t that the same verse? Yes, it’s almost exactly the same words – meaning these are important words. Mary and Joseph gave their son a religious education, they took him to the festival every year, and one year they lost him. They travelled a day towards home before they discovered that they didn’t have him with them. Mary was not a helicopter parent, in fact she must have been used to allowing Jesus to roam about free. But she attended to his spiritual growth, taking him on pilgrimage, and probably doing a whole lot more we don’t hear about. Again, she treasured these things in her heart. My mum and mum-in-law treasured us kids. They tell the stories, they made the photo albums. My wife is a great mum, she remembers and she treasures and she makes the photo albums and she makes our kids know they are special. Today, it’s good to take kids for a religious trip, as well as to sports tournaments, academic trips and music trips.
Reading 4: Mary Confronted. (Mark 3:21) “When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ ” Then Mark 3:34-35 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” I love that Mary was a fallible parent also. It’s nice to know that Mary didn’t always get it right - a bit overprotective at times. I always found that later verse a bit rude but when you go back and read how the family were coming to shut down Jesus you realise Jesus needed to resist. Interestingly, this is a great verse about spiritual parenting. If you do God’s will you can be a spiritual mother to many. Here we see the way in which Jesus acknowledges other women who have been spiritual mothers to him. Are you a spiritual mother? Do you see someone who needs a spiritual mother?
I went to the funeral this week of a woman I worked with 10 years ago. She was a single women who never had kids, but I want to honour Prue and say she was a spiritual mother to me. She was sincere in her faith and dedicated in her discipleship. She worked with me as part of the Pressy church’s national staff and she had a wonderful way of leading people and caring by the way that she wrote policy. If Prue was writing a church regulation it would always have ‘normally xyz’ or ‘in general abc’, or ‘in usual circumstances’. Prue always set the expectation but she also gave wiggle room for when it was needed. She was a woman of integrity and I will miss her. She was a high school English teacher, a speech and drama examiner and a hospital chaplain.
Reading 5: Mary Commended Her Son. (John 2:5) “His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ ” Here we read a story about how Mary set Jesus up to succeed. She pushed him a little. She didn’t tell him how to do it. She just told him the need. Mary the original tiger mum! There was a wedding, they were all there, everything was going great and they ran out of wine. Mary the mother, knew how humiliating that would be for the family and so she gives Jesus just a little push. (Mary) vs 3 ‘They have run out of wine.’ (Jesus) vs 4 ‘It’s not my time.’ In verse 5, Mary calls the servants and tells them, ‘Just do what he says.’ I can imagine the smile on Jesus’ face, ‘You got me mum, OK.’ Like a mum saying to her child, ‘Come on, come and sing,’ or ‘Show granddad your certificate,’ Mary set her son up to succeed. Isn’t that cool!
Reading 6: Just a little diversion from Mary. (John 6:9) “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Do you know this story? Jesus is out with the crowd. They get carried away. There’s no
food, the disciples are worried, Jesus thinks, ‘OK what have we got?’ It’s not a miracle out of nothing, it’s a miracle of multiplication. Sometimes people say, ‘What a wonderful lad, willing to share his lunch with 5,000.’ I say ‘What a wonderful mum who, day in and day out, made that little boy his lunch and taught him to share.’ This verse is the school lunch verse. God bless you mums who make lunches and teach your kids to make their lunches, and to share what they have.
Reading 7: (John 19:26) “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son.” On the cross, Jesus asks John to look after his mum. It’s a sign of Jesus’ great love of his mum, that while he is dying he is looking after her. But what about her? She’s there at his execution, how excruciating for her as well as for him. What a loving mum that turned up. This is the fulfilment of what Simeon had said in Luke 2:35 “A sword will pierce your own soul too.” God bless mum’s who turn up in the worse circumstances. I think of mums who go to court with their kids, and those mums who heard their children shot by firing squad last week. God bless our mums.
Reading 8: ( Acts 1:14) “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Mary was there at the end. We don’t know what happened to Mary, but we know she was meeting with the disciples in the temple after Jesus’ resurrection, and I believe she was there at Pentecost.
This Mother’s Day let’s be inspired by Mary to honour mums, and to all be spiritual parents to those around us, treasuring their stories, encouraging them to go on a spiritual journey, setting them up to succeed and being with each other in hard times. Amen