Kathleen. You are the one of best moms ever. I have learned so much by watching you fully embrace your motherly spirit. I have learned how to be a father… and that nothing…no books, videos, or ancient folklore can prepare a man for the experience of watching someone else give birth. Speaking of giving birth, this is also the Lord’s Day when we talk about Jesus and the new birth he offers. And this might be a better way to go since Mother’s Day isn’t a great day for some.
a sermon based on Mark 3:31-35
And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
It should be of no surprise that Bible gives us plenty of examples of motherhood, from the good to the bad to the most disturbing. Each one a lesson for us today.
The first is Eve – the mother of life. Her sin is as famous as the garden in which it happens. She suffers intense grief when her son Cain murders his brother. She teaches us that birthing children will be painful on many levels.
Then there’s Sarah – Abraham’s wife, who in her very old age conceived and delivered Isaac, making Abraham the father of the Jewish nation. She reminds us of the power of God’s promised covenant.
Jochebed gave up her son Moses to save his life. And God used her sacrifice to free the Hebrew people from over 400 years of slavery. She teaches us that life is worth taking the risk.
God also works in goodness, like Mary – the blessed mother of all. Unwed and too young to be a mom, God handpicked her to carry the incarnate Christ. Like Eve, she is the mother of new life that comes through her Son Jesus.
These are just a few of the women God has used to accomplish his purpose and promise – despite their flaws and the situations forced upon them. We share in their stories, their struggle and pain, as God works through us so that God’s will may be done.
In today’s reading, Jesus is with a different kind of family, his disciples. A massive crowd has surrounded them. This is early in his ministry and his mother and siblings rush to save him; fearing for his life. Read: Mark 3:31-35
Jesus has made Mother’s Day a day for everyone, because we have all been called to give birth to God’s love, grace, and peace every day.
Jesus didn’t wait for an answer. Looking at those who have gathered, those who have left their jobs and families to follow him, he declares, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, my sister, and my mother.” Typical of Jesus, he takes what we know to be the norm and turns it upside down to make it new again.
Of course, Jesus doesn’t tell us what the will of God is. But I suspect the people who are there know the words of the prophet Micah who said, “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). This is more than keeping the letter of the law, it’s about living in the true Spirit of what God desires most – love, justice, and humility.
By saying a spiritual connection is stronger than any biological one, Jesus is inviting us into the most important family of all – the Family of God.
I am the youngest of four, and Kathleen is number 5 of 9. How either one of us managed to survive our siblings is nothing short of a miracle. Our families can be the source of the greatest joy and deepest heartache. But they are who we were given, so we learn to adapt accordingly.
Jesus teaches us to accept and love them because in God’s family all are welcomed and loved. There is no room for jealousy, pettiness, or competition. So we must set aside our differences and family squabbles, and bend our will to God’s.
Some people are afraid to surrender to God’s will because they think God will make them stop having fun. That’s what mothers are for. God wants to fill you with the most enjoyment you could ever imagine. By doing the will of God, we get a foretaste of what is to come; unbound freedom, endless joy, everlasting love, and grace upon grace. Fear is removed so we can truly thrive.
So how might we begin to do God’s will? I’ve been saying it every week this year. When we see and do what Jesus does we, we learn and teach the will of God. Paul says it differently in that we are to be “Imitators of Christ.”
But I like how Meister Eckhart put it. “We are all called to be mothers of God, for God is always waiting to be born.”
We don’t have to be child bearers to be life givers. Mother Teresa never experienced child birth, yet she certainly earned the title by being a mother to all – especially to the most vulnerable. As she so famously prayed, “in all that I do, may other’s see Christ and not me.”
If we want to follow Christ, then we must bear God’s incarnate love. We must to allow it to take shape within us and bring it safely into being.
Jesus has made Mother’s Day a day for everyone, because we have all been called to give birth to God’s love, grace, and peace every day. By loving kindness, seeking justice, being humble we keep Jesus’ mission alive. Today is our day to be life givers.
But let us forget that for every woman honored today, there is another longing for a life to grow within her womb. Yet we can celebrate both by giving birth to the will of God.
For every person whose mother was not much of a mother at all, whose memories are tainted by years of abuse and pain, you can celebrate today because Jesus welcomes you into God’s family where your scars and suffering are healed by love and forgiveness.
For all mothers and children who are separated for whatever reason, you can celebrate today knowing that Jesus reconciled all things to him. And through him we all become united in God’s love; receiving mercy and grace through our faith.
For those who struggle today because your mother has died and you can’t call her on the phone, and for those mothers who know the pain of burying a child – come celebrate with Mary whose son died but did not stay dead. He rose again from the grave, securing eternity for her and all who would believe.
By giving over his will to do God’s will, Jesus redeems us, unites us, and transforms us into one family through his body and blood. Just as we inherited this great kinship, so to are we called to do the same. To see and do what Jesus does, so we can be life givers.
Jesus gives us great power and responsibility. Through him, the love of God remains alive inside us all… until the fullness of God’s glory, the mother of all love, is revealed throughout eternity.
And so I ask you this important question: Will you be my mother, my brother, my sister?