Rev. Dr. Joel Mitchell, Pastor
11024 S. Bell Avenue
Chicago, IL 60643
Reflection May 12, 2019
"Happy Mother’s Day!" - by Rev. Dr. Thomas Aldworth
I’ve never been nor will I ever be a mother! No surprise. But I place these words of caution as I write this Advance prior to our fast-approaching Mother’s Day. If I’m going to attempt some wise words for Mother’s Day, I want it clearly understood from the beginning that I don’t know what I’m taking about!
Let’s start with some Scripture: “For it was you (God) who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13) As God said to the prophet Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jeremiah 1:5) “Yet it was you, God, who took me from the womb and kept me safe on my mother’s breast.” (Psalm 22:9) This is what God does! God is the source of all life as well as the midwife of all life. God is the ultimate Mom!
Even as we were being formed in our mother’s womb, God was at work. In the deep intimacy of the womb, we were shaped and molded by God. This is something we must never forget.
Each Mother’s Day, we recall the darkness of the womb and how we were called forth into the light of life at our birth. We also recall that we are the fleshy result of the sexual joining of our mothers and fathers. Sexuality is a profound gift from the One who gives birth to all life.
While each of us was being formed within the deep intimacy of our mother’s womb, both our mothers and God were hard at work. As many know, my daughter-in-law, Hannah, is getting ready to deliver her third child very soon. This child is my third grandchild. My son, Mark, and Hannah, do not wish to know the gender of the child before birth, so there is mystery surrounding this birth.
Yet there’s mystery surrounding each and every birth! At my own birth, the medical staff didn’t know that I wasn’t alone in the womb. I was companioned within my mother by my twin brother. Birth always brings surprises. This I learned at my own birth.
My daughter-in-law sends out photos every week, tracking the growing baby. Right now her womb is filled to near-bursting. Not much longer to wait! And as Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor noted: “Our waiting is not nothing. It is something, a very big something, because people tend to be shaped by whatever it is they are waiting for.” (From Gospel Medicine)
In these final days of waiting, my son, daughter-in-law, my two grandchildren, along with all our family and friends are anxious for that sacred moment when this child will reveal her or his face to us. (Prayers, please, for Hannah!)
We all love celebrating our birthdays (even those of us who have celebrated more than our share of them). In celebrating our own birth, we also celebrate the birth that awaits us when we finish being knit together within the womb of Mother Earth. God is not done shaping us, molding us, fashioning us. An important truth for us to remember is that we are all new-born from the hands of God at every moment.
The nine months we spent within our mothers prepared us for life on this precious planet. The time we spend within the womb of this life is preparing us for birth into eternal life with the One who fashioned us within our mothers.
Many of us have the pleasure of remembering our mothers as sources of kindness. Now I know this is far from a universal experience. Not all mothers are good at mothering. But most are!
And so it’s often from our mothers that we learned the art of kindness. And as Barbara Brown Taylor writes: “Kindness is not a bad religion, no matter what name you use for God.” (From An Altar in the World) If our mothers taught us kindness, they taught us well!
Let me end these inadequate words with something I came across from the New Testament theologian Rev. Dr. Alyce McKenzie. She recounted a phone call she had with her mother:
(Mom) This Mother's Day, please don't send me another card covered with flowers and filled with flattery. I appreciate your thinking of me, but they always make me cry.
(Alyce) Why is that, Mom?
(Mom) Oh, Come on, Alyce. Get real! I did the best I could, but I was far from a perfect mom! You remember. You were there!
“So this year I got her a card with that old woman on it with the hairnet and the housedress with a ciggie hanging out of her lip. On the front it says, ‘Hours of excruciating labor. Millions of poopie diapers. Countless sleepless nights.’...inside it says, ‘And you get a card . . . Yeah, that sounds fair.’ (From “M” is for Many Things: A Sermon for Mother’s Day)