This morning’s scripture lesson marks the end of the forty days of Easter. The forty days during which the risen Christ continued to teach his disciples and help them begin to understand the grace his life, death, and resurrection brought for all. As the Christian calendar goes, the Ascension of Christ to rejoin God the Father, was celebrated this past Thursday.
Coming together today to worship, we join the disciples in that time of waiting between Christ lifted into the clouds and the Holy Spirit filling His followers on Pentecost. As they gathered in consistent prayer during that time of waiting, “Mother’s Day” was not part of their experience.
Yet, in the midst of this scripture, we catch a glimpse of the role mothers have in the faith journeys of their children, even when recognizing the truth of the skit* we just heard, that each of us has a unique relationship with our own mother, and those who have mothered us. Regardless of whether it is complicated or simple, beautiful or troubled, close or distant, that relationship impacts our relationship with God and others.
Women of Faith, Faithful followers of God the Father and Jesus the Son, are woven throughout story of what led to this moment of waiting in anticipation of the Spirit who reveals God’s Truth to all generations.
Mary the mother of Jesus has been there from the beginning. There as she welcomed God’s plan even aware of all the challenges a young expectant mom, not yet wed, faced. There as Jesus took his first breath, as he took his last, there throughout the journey, then as he ascended to the Father, and now there ready to continue telling his story.
Luke tells us that Mary “treasured” all the sights, sounds, and words surrounding the events of her son’s birth and pondered them in her heart. Mary must have treasured all of the wonders she witnessed as Jesus healed the sick, feed the poor, shared the news of the Kingdom of God, died on the cross, and walked with her as the risen Christ. All the time finding much about which to ponder and to pray.
In many ways she shows us how to love the children in our care completely, protecting and caring for them, giving them the foundation from which they can soar into being all God has called them to be. She shows us how to recognize the unique gifts, talents, and calling of those for whom we are entrusted with their foundational years. Always with a bit of pondering and consistent prayer.
For Mary and for all women who are mothers to children in some way, it can be the most joy-filled and most painful calling they ever receive. It includes some pushy times – remember the wine at the wedding before its time; some mistakes – we don’t have Mary’s recorded, although maybe that time when she didn’t know he stayed back in the temple, but all moms make them; many tears and hopefully lots of laughter.
Mary and all of the women closest to Jesus show us the importance to waiting on the presence of the Holy Spirit before being Christ’s witnesses in the world.
The women in the room with the eleven disciples are waiting for the gift of the Spirit God promised. “The women” had followed Jesus; they had sought out healing, instruction, and relationship; they were the ones who anointed him with oil, served his meals, and supported him with their finances. They followed him to the foot of the cross and stayed as close as they were allowed; they were the first to come to the tomb, the first entrusted to share the story of the resurrection. They were his most faithful followers. Other than Mary the mother of Jesus, we aren’t told if they had children of their own.
What we do know is that they prayerfully waited on the Holy Spirit to come, and that they all became mothers of the message that has continued to be shared throughout the generations, the message that shapes our lives and which we hope shapes the lives of the children for whom we model a life filled with faith and the transformational love of knowing Jesus Christ.
They were able to walk and talk with Jesus, and through their stories, we are able to share what they experienced. Each had a unique experience as they followed, each a unique calling on their life. That remains true for all of us. We are uniquely formed and uniquely loved by God. Sometimes it is difficult to see, particularly in the midst of the overwhelming chaos that can be our lives.
During announcements, Guin talked about Mothers of PreSchoolers – the programs and relationships that help Moms be Faithful Followers of Jesus and find their unique calling as women. She shared a video with me that she hopes will encourage moms of pre-schoolers to participate and others in the congregation to support, which seemed to vividly show the ways we are still waiting for the Spirit to fill us so we can be witnesses for Christ in our own families and beyond. I asked her permission to use it as part of the message, rather than part of her announcement, and she graciously said yes:
We all have the opportunity to be there with God’s children, no matter what their age; to share our faith stories; to support their journeys with our example, our love, and our prayers; but we need to continuously be renewed through the Spirit, to find the fire, in order to fully share the story.
My prayer this Mother’s Day is that we all find the fire that comes through the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives and will experience a year of transformation.
Gracious God, we thank you for all the faithful followers in our lives that help us find the fire you place within our hearts through the Holy Spirit. We thank you for the moms and those who have been moms to us. Help us to wait on your Spirit and to be your witnesses where ever we go and whatever we do. Amen
(“Questions Without Answers” a Reading for Mother’s Day by Paul R. Neil)