May 8, 2022
Scripture Reading: Psalm 23
You all know Anna Jarvis? She’s the one who started a campaign to have a national day to honor our mothers. She started working on it in 1905, the year her mother died and Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the annual day in 1914. Today is close to May 9, the anniversary of Momma Jarvis’s death!
It’s good that we have one day a year to be reminded of the gifts that women and mothers bring to our world. Because of that role of theirs of being mothers, women, by nature seem to carry with them in their very being the capacity to nurture, support and care in ways that are unique.
I don’t mean to put any woman in a box. Each woman is blessed with her own special assortment of gifts and strengths. But we owe such a debt of gratitude to women for the way they bring a certain warmth to our world – a certain kind of love – an innate ability to nurture and support everyone from our little ones to all of us. They bring an inborn insight into what others need and how that need might be met.
Take a woman’s purse! What amazing things they are! Men need pockets, but women need a whole separate piece of equipment to enable them to do what they were equipped by their Creator to do. The thing is a combination emergency kit, grocery store, and toy shop! My mother carried those little magnetic scottie dogs in hers for when I got the fidgets during church. It is a great symbol of a Mother’s role of provider, enabler (in good way), nurturer, healer, and lover.
When I thought about what mothers often bring to our lives, I thought of the 23rd Psalm and about shepherds. That shepherd role is so much like, in many ways, the role of a mother with her children: providing, the individual caring, the nurturing, feeding and guiding. And, I’ll bet that Shepherds had some kind of pouch like a purse!
When we think of shepherds, we so often picture them as men. It is not true. There always have been women shepherds. Rachael, who ended up being married to Jacob, was a shepherd. I read this week that probably half of the shepherds in Jesus’ time were women – and that it is still true today!
As I look at our society today, I think what we desperately need is that shepherd-like influence! We have all of the commanders and autocrats we can stand! We need some leaders in our society who are more like Jesus: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses.” Hebrews 4:15.
We need some people who know what real strength is about and what it isn’t. We don’t need people who define strength as an unwillingness to compromise or as the courage to call people names! We don’t need so-called leaders who have the ability and willingness to create opposing sides and pit one group against another! That’s not strength and courage!
We need leaders and models with the ability to feel each other’s pain, who can love even enemies, and who have the courage to temper their language and bring people together rather than pull them apart. We need people with the courage to forgive.
We need women leaders who can do in the public arena what they did around the kitchen table with their children and do it without apology! We need women who can break through the glass ceiling and give us something different from what men have given us for eons. Too many women have come into leadership without bringing us their best selves. We need all of who you are, not just the parts of your personality that look like what men bring to their roles.
We need people who are like the Lord who is described in the 23rd Psalm. Read it! Of course, women are not the only ones who can be like this shepherd! But it seems to me that women have something of a head start toward the shepherd’s heart! A shepherd’s love is “Fierce Love!” No wimpy love!
Love that doesn’t quit! Love that never gives up! Children can test your patience with their rebellion and testing of limits. A mother’s love is less apt to give up. Her door always stays open. I know I’m talking in generalities here, but I long for that kind of love to be more visible in our society and world. What a difference it would make!
Love that knows how to forgive! We have so few models of forgiveness in our society. It seems forgiveness has gone out of style. How is it that many Moms don’t run out of it or hide it? Love that can be wounded and still forgive is priceless! We need that kind of fierce love!
Love that knows how to say “I’m sorry” and “Please forgive me!” Why are those words so hard for many of us men to get out of our mouths? Our egos just get in the way. But somehow for women, those doors are small prices to pay for a restored relationship.
Love that has the strength to be soft when it is called for and unbending when it is necessary! It is not an easy love. Mom could say “No” but I knew it was never a “No” to her heart. That access to her heart was always open.
LOVE THAT LOOKS LIKE JESUS – THE GOOD SHEPHERD!
Of course, this way of being in the world is NOT the exclusive privilege of women. In truth, a full and complete love is a beautiful blend of the best the women and men both have to offer. THAT love is only perfectly displayed by God. We just approximate that way of living.
For the love of God to be fully known and experienced in our time we need both the tough and the soft love, the gentle and the firm, the rules and the forgiveness for the breaking of them. So, no matter what your experience of the love of a mother, I want to say that we are so grateful for what you, as a woman and / or a mother have brought to our world! Thank you with all our hearts!