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For Mother's Day

Great Mothers of the Bible ---

EVE -

The Mother of All Living - Genesis 3:20 - more specifically of Cain, Abel and Seth (and several unnamed others).

I guess if we are to commence in chronological order, we would have to begin with Eve, the mother of us all.  And she was the woman who made THE monumental, mind-blowing, affects-everybody-forever mistake.  So she probably deserves the bad rap she gets.  But it wasn't like there were any other women around to make it instead of her, right?  Maybe she was the first to partake of the fruit just because she was the only one who could remember where is was in the garden (women just know where stuff is).

You have to feel a little bit of sympathy for the girl who didn't have a mother to ask about how things were for her back in the day.  when the kids had a temperature or were teething she just had to figure it out on her own, but then again, nobody could look at her and tell her that she was doing it all wrong.  And sure, she got us into epidurals, but she had the mother of all heartache, too.  Her sons were involved in the first homicide (without Nintendo and violence on TV to blame it on).  She was the first mom to have to bury her child.

BATHSHEBA -

Bathsheba was well-named as it was her "bath-ing" that attracted the attention of King David.  Their illicit affair resulted in the birth of a son.  David tried for some damage control by sending her husband out to war, back to the house hoping for a copulating cover-up, and then out to the frontlines to get killed.  (And we think we have seriously evil plts in our current movies.)  David got his wish - Bathsheba's husband was killed in battle, and David thought he had gotten away with it.  Nathan confronted him and David repented bitterly.  But we enver really hear how it all affected Bathsheba.

Their sin is well documented and the effects to David's household long-lasting.  However, a son was born from their union and Solomon turned out to be a peaceable ruler whose wisdom was legendary.  Bathsheba's motherhood gives women hope that, regardless of the circumstances surrounding your pregnancy and the birth of your child, God can redeem any situation.  You never know, you might just have the wisest person ever on the planet staring back at you from that high chair.

JOCHEBED -

If there was ever a mom whose life would have made a great screenplay for a Lifetime for Women movie, it would be Jochebed.  You just have to give it up for her and the midwives who, in their act of civil disobedience, allowed Moses to be born.  Those midwives, when asked by the pharoah why they were not killing the boy babies as commanded, replied that the Hebrew women were "too vigorous" and popped those babies out before they could get there!

Thus baby Moses was born but had to be sent down the river (literally) with his sister as lookout, only to be pulled out of the water by the pharoah's daughter, who secured the services of Moses' biological mom to nanny him.  Talk about movie script material!  Oh wait.  They've already done that.  Anyway, Moses' mom shows us that the determination and ingenuity of a desperate mother can result in surprising circumstances.  Oh, the places you'll go!

FINALLY - MARY - Talk about your Personal EPT... I mean Mary's was early, EARLY! And accurate, too.  Angelic visitation definitely qualifies as a sure thing.  But the favored girl had to have some concerns because unwed pregnancy was a little different back then.  You could get stoned for it.  I'm sure she was very relieved to find out that the angel had given her beau, Joseph, the same message.  and yes, she was going to give birth to the divine gift of heaven, but, as any mother knows, all gifts come with some work attached.  She still had to change the Baby Jesus' diapers, soothe him as he teethed, teach him to walk, and clean up his skinned knees.  she had to cook the meals and wash his clothes and do all the things that moms do for their children.  It's interesting the places we see Mary pop up in the gospels; for example, at the temple sending out an APB for her boy.  (I believe I might have grounded Jesus if he told me that he was just doing his father's business, but no such reaction from Mary is recorded).

Another of my favorite mother moments of Mary's was when she was at the wedding feast apparently exasperated with her thirty-year-old son for not doing that "thing" he could do with the water.  When Jesus seems to refuse to come through the way she knows he can, she goes around him and tells the servants to get ready to do something for him.  And Jesus does the miracle.  I would have loved to have been there to see the looks pass between mother and son that night.  And then we see Mary at the crucifixion.  Disciples may scatter, followers may be in hiding, but a mother stays when the rest of the world walks away.  In fact, Mary is a rich tapestry of real motherhood; a lot of excitement followed by years of work and moments of intense pain.  But through it all, mothers are there.

Author Unknown

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                             The Prodigal Son and the Poison Ivy

                                         
          by Jean V. Dickson

My father turned to me and said, “University - I can’t send you to university! You need to get a job so you can support your sister.”

His words slammed into my solar plexus. I stood there with my mouth open, wheezing for wind, searching for sanity. And I thought, “This must be what the brother of the prodigal son felt like.”

In that moment, I empathised with the anger of the son who stayed home. I too saw red – a river of red blood. The celebration calf slaughtered before my eyes. A reward carefully prepared for the lazy, dissolute child while I, the responsible child, got no reward. I, the good child, was supposed to work to support my sister’s sloth.

I wouldn’t have been hurt by my father’s words if my sister were five years old and needed looking after. But at 29, my elder sister was more than capable of getting a job and supporting herself. However, like the prodigal son, Gail liked spending money - as long as she didn’t have to work for that money. Gail was as likely to dive into work as a cat catapult into cold water. Even with a flock of birds on the other side of that pond, it just wouldn’t happen.

As far back as I could remember, Gail would yell for an hour instead of doing 15 minutes worth of work. Then, when I was a pre-teen and Gail in her twenties, she convinced my parents that she was ill - that she needed to spend each winter someplace warm, someplace expensive. One night, exulting in her victory, she boasted about how gullible mom and dad were, believing her when she pretended to be ill.

As much as I hated how my sister manipulated my parents into giving her the money to go away each winter, I rejoiced whenever Gail left. Because, hell on earth was only another way to say Gail was in town.

Yes, I had many good reasons to resent my sister. I hated her manipulations, her lies - the way she would try to embarrass me in front of my friends, and teachers. The way she would barge into work, refuse to leave and try to get me fired from my job. How she would take credit for my work when relatives visited. The many times she tried to make me late for important appointments.

Oh, yes, I had many good reasons to hate my sister, and I thought about them constantly. I loved to dwell on all the ways she had done me wrong. She was an itch that I just loved to scratch.

It was the poison ivy that brought me to my senses.

When I looked at the red, itchy rash on my son’s arms and legs, I didn’t know what it was. At first, I wondered whether it might be chicken pox. But then our neighbour pointed to a patch of soft green vegetation gently shaded by a cedar hedge. “That’s poison ivy. You don’t want to touch that. You don’t want to even walk through it. Because the poison will stick to your shoes and the next time you touch them, the poison will touch you right back.” He paused, then continued, “You should put up a ‘Keep off the grass’ sign - just until you get it under control.”

Maybe it was because I had just spent an angry hour arguing over the phone with Gail. But as he said these words, I suddenly realised that I had spent 30 years carefully cultivating an emotional poison ivy patch. Each time I took out Gail’s list of sins, I walked over to the edge of my poison ivy patch. Every time I stopped to dwell on a particular injustice, I took off my shoes, rolled up my pants and waded through the ivy. Each time I exulted in my superiority, it was if I had taken off all my clothes and was rolling in the ivy, rapture radiating from my face. Afterwards I would scratch my legs raw as I sat happily contemplating another way she had done me wrong.

That afternoon, I finally realized my emotional poison ivy patch was more harmful than the one outside. The only way to combat it was to apply the calamine of forgiveness.

That night, as I kissed my son’s cheek, I once again thought of the prodigal son. Brushing my son’s hair from his forehead, I understood why the father killed the fatted calf when his lost son returned home. There was no doubt in my mind that I too would kill a fatted calf for my son. And for the first time, I wondered why I ever thought the son who stayed home was justified in his anger.

That night, as I stood outside my son’s bedroom door, I put a ‘Don’t Walk on the Grass’ sign in my mind, to match the one outside in our yard.

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