Introduction to the Readings for Mother’s Day
Sunday, May 14, 2017
The bible is full of stories about real people, people just like us.
Just like us, they were people with hopes and dreams.
Just like us, they were people who had faults and flaws but also strength and character.
The bible is full of stories about real people whose faults and flaws helped them to become the people they needed to become: People of faith and courage.
This morning, in honour of Mother’s Day, we have three vignettes of just such women.
We begin with the story of Miriam, who was the older sister of two brothers, Aaron and Moses.
Because of her life’s context, there were some limits to Miriam’s freedom to grow in leadership. Nevertheless, her courage, vitality, and ability to put her best foot forward has her mentioned in several places as an important person in the Hebrew bible.
This morning, we listen to how Miriam’s leadership skills were first developed.
Reading from Exodus, Chapter 2, verses 1-10, we hear how effective Miriam was at thinking on her feet. The story of the Birth and Youth of the Young Moses: Reading from the New Standard Revised Version of the bible, found in your pew backs at p. 43:
“Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.
The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the banks of the river.
His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river.
She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrew’s children,” she said.
Then his sister (Miriam) said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.”
So the woman (Miriam) took the child and nursed it.
When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son.
She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Here ends the first of our readings from scripture this day.
Our second reading from the texts this morning is about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Many, many things have been said in church about the need to build our own relationships with Jesus but surely there’s no better example of faithfulness in relationship than his own mother, Mary!
Mary literally ‘fleshed out’ the unthinkable: Immanuel, God with us.
Mary was the first disciple of Christ.
From the first moments of her awareness of Jesus’ conception through to and including his death on the cross, Mary, his mother, models for us the gift of trust in being called and accompanied by God. Mary’s faithful trust in God was often tested over the course of Jesus’ short life. This morning we have one example of how Mary responded to her son’s uniqueness as a young boy.
Reading from the gospel according to Luke, Chapter 2, verses 41-52 “The Boy Jesus in the Temple” found at pages 833 and 834 of your pew bibles.
Now every year, his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival.
When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him.
After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.”
He said to them, “Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”
But they did not understand what he said to them.
Then he went down with them and came back to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.
His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine human favour.”
Here ends our second reading from the Christian texts this morning.
Our final story this morning comes to us from a reading about life in the early church founded after Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s a story about a resourceful woman named Lydia. Lydia was a Roman citizen who knew how to make faithful choices for herself. She used her considerable financial assets and her standing and influence in the secular community to support the fledging ministry of the apostle, Paul.
Listen to this adaptation of the conversion of Lydia and her ensuing acts of hospitality to the apostle Paul and his companion, Silas based on a story taken from the sixteenth chapter of the Acts of the Apostle.
“That night Paul had a dream to bring the good news of Jesus to Macedonia. Their journey began at the harbour at Troas.
After some time at sea and some cross country walking, Paul and his companion, Silas found themselves at Philippi, a Roman Colony.
On the Sabbath day, they heard there was a prayer meeting on the river bank. On arrival there, they joined with a group of women gathered together to pray. Lydia was among them.
Lydia was so taken with Paul’s message that day that she requested that she and all her household be baptized together there on the river bank.
Afterward, she insisted that Paul and Silas stay at her home.
Initially, they resisted Lydia but finally accepted her invitation.
Lydia was not one to take ‘no’ for answer.
And so it was, the apostle Paul and his companion, Silas were graciously welcomed in to Lydia’s home.
Some time later, Paul and Timothy were arrested for their missionary work in the area.
However, when they were miraculously released from prison, they made their way straight to Lydia’s home for a time of rest and renewal before resuming their dangerous work.
Lydia, woman of commerce and influence, chose also to walk the talk of her faith through her witness and hospitality.”
This is the good news for today.
Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Church.
Thanks be to God, amen!