Matthew 12:46-50 NIV
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Happy Mother’s Day! We know that spiritually, family is very important. Sometimes we say, “Family first.” Or that we in our meeting or church are supposed to treat people like they are our family. But what have we learned from our families of origin when it comes to how to be family to one another? We learn, for the most part what this means from our own families, which is sometimes good and sometimes not very functional. It is very easy to fall back into patterns of behavior that are normal to our families. We do things that our families do so naturally, because it reminds us of what makes us comfortable. It is familiar.
So what is Jesus saying in Matthew that “Whoever does the will of my father in heaven is my brother, my sister and my mother.” What does that mean? And how can we live into that?
This week we will simply focus on what it means to mother the Christ in others. God has put the spark of the Divine in all of us. We are to nurture this Divine spark, this Christ, our Inward Teacher, to help it reach its full potential of God’s love just as we would do a child of ours, even an adult child. We are nurture and help to encourage growth, not just in our lives but, in all of the people’s lives with whom we come in contact. And we are to mindful of the ways that we might not be nurturing enough to the people around us or to ourselves.
We are called to nurture that spark of the divine in any place we find it and in every place where its potential rests. Some people are very mature spiritually and others are infants, and we can’t just treat all people the same. A mother knows better than to interact with a child of fourteen the same as she does her child of forty.
We are expected to be the mothering spiritual presence to these inward Christ’s in whatever stage of growth we find them. Like a foster parent takes a child at any age or in any condition, we are expected to foster people as they come to us, and as we find them. We are, like a mother, to nurture others with the future in mind, and make the present as productive as possible for the spiritual lives of those in our reach. So it includes not just our behaviors ourselves and how we interact, but it also extends past this to how we take on the structures of society.
We are careful to find the right schools for our children. We look for the right literature. We want them to be encouraged and supported. If we are to be the mothers of the light of Christ in others, then we are to care about their institutions and how they are meeting their needs. We are called to respond with care and with love and with patience the people we are in contact with, and the to demand and work with the institutions that they are in to help them reach their full potentials.
Look around you. Think about your surroundings, your work, or your neighborhood. That is God’s mission field you have been placed in. You, your home, your neighborhood, your family, your people with you online and in line with you. That is your mission field. It might be more socially distant than before since we are dealing with this virus. But we are called to be seekers of the light in others and in ourselves, all the time, 24 hours a day 365 days a year.
So how do we go about doing this?
I have chosen two mothers for us to focus on today: Bathsheba with Solomon and Mary with Jesus. The Jewish community had a practice of the mother creating a poem or a song while the children were inside the mother, and then they sang this song to their children time and time again, all the way into adulthood. My kids used to love it if I made up stories with them as characters in them. But these two women wanted to make sure that the Kingdom of Heaven, or God’s loving will, was made manifest through their sons, so the songs they sang to them and the stories they told them were about how God could use them and what God expected from them. I suggest that we reflect on these two women’s songs as we discern how we can best mother the Light of Christ in the world around us.
The first poem comes from Proverbs 31. And we are told through Jewish teaching and belief that this was the song of Bathsheba to Solomon. In this chapter he is called Limuel.
And when it comes to wisdom, it is said that Solomon had much. Yet we know from the book that follows this song in Proverbs 31, Ecclesiastes, that Solomon did not take this advice to heart.
We can learn from this as well. Like Bathsheba to Solomon, it is up to us to mother the Christ within, even when what we are doing may not be paying off right away. We know that Luke 7 tells us that Wisdom is known by her children, so it may seem that what we have done or said is in vain.
Doing the work of mothering the Christ within others is all that is asked of us. We are not told that they have to listen. In fact, we are told, many times they don’t, and we have to let it go like Bathsheba did.
Bathsheba closed out Proverbs and then Mr. Eat Drink and Be Merry took on learning things the hard way. And sometimes that is the hardest part of mothering anyone.
Even when people are not going to take our advice or our help, we still have to nurture the Christ within them, no matter how mature or immature their spiritual state of mind is. And we have to address their institutions and society so that they can reach their fullest potentials.
This mother, who we are going to assume is Bathsheba, was the daughter of the counsel for her husband David. She has probably listened as David recited some of his poetry, like maybe the one we call Psalm 146.
Jay is going to read this for us today because she goes back to
this psalm as she addresses her son, and we need to see that she not only was
telling her son what she felt was right and good, but also what his father
thought was right and good as well. Like
this, we are expected to be consistent with God’s teachings, and to adhere to
loving and good ways of helping people to reach their full potentials.
Psalms 146 reads:
Do not put your trust in
in human beings, who cannot save.
4 When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
5 Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
6 He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
7 He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
8 the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
9 The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
So Bathsheba takes the words of her husband and tries to teach them to her son in a song. Now we are more familiar with the ending of Proverbs 31. There is a whole movement based on the feminist perspective of the last part of this chapter that finishes out the book of Proverbs.
But the beginning of the song that Bathsheba might have sung to
Solomon is often snipped off, and left out of our teachings. But those are the lines that echo Psalm 146.
Listen, my son! Listen,
son of my womb!
Listen, my son, the answer to my prayers!
3 Do not spend your strength[a] on women,
your vigor on those who ruin kings.
4 It is not for kings, Lemuel—
it is not for kings to drink wine,
not for rulers to crave beer,
5 lest they drink and forget what has been decreed,
and deprive all the oppressed of their rights.
6 Let beer be for those who are perishing,
wine for those who are in anguish!
7 Let them drink and forget their poverty
and remember their misery no more.
8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
9 Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
We hear this same theme again generations later. We hear from Mary in the song she writes for her son, this theme of speaking up for those who cannot speak for themselves, and taking stands for the rights of all who are destitute. What God is putting in the hearts of those who mother is that we are to teach people to speak up for those who don’t have a voice, and that we are to seek truth and fairness, and to make those marks of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom is about goodness, and defending the rights of others, especially those who are not able to speak or defend themselves.
In this song written by Mary and shared with us in Luke 1, (The Magnificat) we can imagine Mary singing to her son not just when she was carrying him in her body, but again and again throughout his life, about the vision she has of his impact on the world.
So if we are to be the mother of the Christ in others, aren’t these the words that the Bible thinks we might want to think on and want to teach others around us:
These are the words of Mary, mother of Jesus in Luke 1.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
As we interact as the Christians we are called to be, let us write poems of freedom and goodness, of justice and equality, and mercy and grace to all we come in contact with – As we mother the Light of God in this world.
Happy Mother’s Day.