A Mother’s Plea…

Stuff mom says you’ll always remember!

On the radio last Friday morning, I heard a few offerings.

I love you, anyway!

I brought you into this world… and I can… take you out.

From the womb to the tomb… that’s how long I’ll worry over you.

You just wait ‘til … your father gets home.

Looking at your outfit, Is that …new?

Can’t you/we all just get along?!!

Can you name a few mom lines you remember? (Congregation.)

In every household, culture, time and place, there’s stuff we all remember mamma said. But better still, there’s the stuff moms in particular and women in general do. There’s what they have to give. And what better day than today to give thanks for them and commit to live in them. The gifts of love to be honored here: an eye that does not turn away, a heart that does not turn aside, a faith that always turns to God. Today, we honor every mother and woman who gives these gifts! And we pray them for ourselves

Thank God there’s somebody in your life whose eye just does not turn away. Not ever. Good times or bad! This is a holy gift. And more often than not, moms and women-all are the givers of it. No surprise, it all starts with Eve!  Eve conceives Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” She bears Abel. Abel’s a sheepkeeper, Cain a farmer. Eve witnesses the difference. She sees with a mother’s eye: when God accepts Abel’s gift over Cain’s, Eve knows trouble won’t be far behind.  Eve gives birth again… to the truth that somehow mother’s always know! (Just ask them!) I suspect God was not the first to ask Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  Do well; do good; don’t you know your gifts will be accepted? Neither mother-on-earth nor God-in-heaven wants you to be who you aren’t or what you’re not. ‘Only the best you! That’s the thing. Do less and ‘sin is couching at the door’; its desire is for you, but you must master it.” You know the rest. Cain kills Able. And God asks what Eve asks (and all moms do) “What have you done?” Cain is banished by God… with a mark for his protection. God will not turn away, you see. Now it is not in Genesis

But maybe it could be. Should be. Eve did not turn away either. I suspect Eve did as my mom has and would. Yours too. Eve prayed for Cain! Eve knows, you see, what it is to substitute sin for paradise, a bit of heaven for a mere bite of over-ripe fruit. She too, like Adam her husband and now Cain her son, knows what it means to live an exile’s life. In full grief at her loss of Able, and full understanding of the sin of Cain, still she prays, “Lord, mark my child; protect my child; do not turn away. Let our love for him somehow overcome the sin in him. May there not come a day some day, when we are each other’s keeper? Can’t we all just get along, and come along home to you?” Thank God for the women, the moms in our lives, who do not turn their eyes away, and will not cease to pray!

A heart that does not turn aside. This too is a mother’s gift. A sister’s too. An aunt’s, a granny’s. Your Cousin Ethel’s and your neighbor Naomi’s. Doubt it? Look to Mary. Jesus’ mom. Just as her eye never turned from Jesus, neither her heart. (Womb to tomb, a mother worries, don’t you know?!) Mary, the quintessential stay-at-home mom! She grasped the glory of rearing a child of God. Even THE child of God. Our age celebrates multi-taskin’ moms and madams. Me too. But I do like Tony Campolo’s wife’s story. A mom-on-duty, she rarely travels with famed preacher Tony.  When she does, she needs a response to the world-class famous women she meets. Asked (condescendingly), “Well, dear, what do you do?” she replies. “I am nurturing two Homo Sapiens into the dominant values of the Judaeo-Christian tradition so they might become instruments for social transformation to the eschatological utopia God envisioned from the beginning of time.” The other women say, “O, my, I'm just another lawyer/doctor/diplomat.” Praise the woman’s heart that never turns aside! Mary’s never leaves Jesus. Matthew notes Mary gets wind her Jesus is in trouble. His sayings sicken Sadducees. His healings play havoc with the Pharisees. He’s gettin’ in real hot water! While still preaching, his mother and his brothers stand outside, asking for him. (They want him home. Rest up. Cool down. Chill.) But Jesus asks, “Who is my mother; who are my brothers?” Gesturing his disciples, he says, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.” Poor Mary! But even so-stung/disappointed, she clings to Jesus. Thank God for those in our lives who hold on, even when we hurt their lives, or trouble their hearts, or challenge their faith. Woman or man, elder or youth, I ask you, “Can you learn to love like this?” It is a gift! Do give it to SOMEbody!

Today, we honor every mother and woman with a faith that always turns to God. Again, Mary shows the way. There… at the foot of the cross. Even there, she can turn neither her eye nor heart from Jesus. But she will do one more thing. She will turn her faith toward God. She has no faith in the nails to hold him on that cross. ‘Or in the authorities that mock him. ‘Or in the friends that abandon him. She places her faith entirely in the God who announced and called him. ‘The God she taught him to know and love and follow. He will caress her in the only way he can. He will honor her! (Ahh, the 5th Commandment… he entrusts her to his best friend, John.) Thank God, no other mom has known quite what Mary did. But many a woman has stood the night or the morning or the mid-day at the foot of some pain that pins their belov-ed on some sorry tree from which they cannot free themselves. And they have done as Mary. Not giving up. But giving over… all to God! What a gift. Do you have it… as a mom, a woman or man, a youth, just a believer? Permit a story as we close. West Va., though it could have been W. Md. A mom most reluctantly allows her son to work in the coal mine in hard, hard times. The rookie does OK two weeks. But he gets lost in the hive of mineshafts, failing to stay close to the others as instructed. He wanders in search of his way. Don’t we all? His light finally fails. In the dark. Alone. Frightened. Night falls above ground, as on this lost young soul. His mother stands above. Not knowing his place, she just falls to her knees and prays. “Lord, let him do as I have taught. Far down below, this young soul finally just stops. He knows he’s at his end. He drops to his knees to pray… just like his mamma taught. His left knee clunks on a solid iron bar. “Jesus!” he cries. (Not quite the way his mother said) It was the iron rail of one of the cart tracks that would take the coal, and take him to the top! To light. And to life. All because of a faith that ALWAYS turns to God, even in the darkest, or loneliest of hours. An eye that does not turn away, a heart that does not turn aside, a faith that always turns to God. Today, we honor every mother and woman who gives these gifts! And we pray to live and give these gifts ourselves.

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