Exodus 2: John 19:25-27

Mothering Sunday 8am

St Barbara’s; 11.03.18

Rev Tulo Raistrick

Sometimes caring for others can place us in some very difficult situations.

Moses’ mother was in a dire situation. Her people were living in poverty and slavery, struggling to make ends meet. Each day they worried whether they would have enough food to eat, despite working every hour of the day, working on the construction sites of the Egyptian Pharoahs.

And then things got a whole lot worse when Pharaoh, fearful of the growing population of Israelite slaves, announces that all baby Israelite boys are to be killed.

When baby Moses is born, can you imagine Moses’ mother’s joy and delight in the birth of her child, but also her fear and worry – how can she keep him alive?

She can hide him for a while but soon his cries will become too loud. Soldiers will come hammering on the door.

So she does something extraordinary. She shows remarkable resourcefulness. She takes a great risk.

Rather than clinging to her child in desperate hope that he won’t be discovered, she places him in a basket on the waters. But she is shrewd.

She steers the boat to a place where she knows women from Pharaoh’s court will be bathing, and her daughter is on hand to offer her mum as a wet-nurse for the “abandoned” child.

She is desperate, but she is also inventive, clever, doing whatever it will take to care for her child.

She is a great model for us all.

You may be able to think of ways in which your mother, or someone else who has cared for you, has pulled out all the stops, has done whatever it takes, to care for us. Today is a good day to stop and give thanks.

And indeed God, our Father, and who the Bible also describes as our Mother, is the best example of all. He does all that it takes, sending his own son to die for us, that we, like Moses, may be set free to live life.

We have thought about Moses’ mother, but there are two others women in the story – Moses’ sister, who may have been only a young girl, and Pharaoh’s daughter.

They too are essential for Moses’ survival. Without Pharaoh’s daughter having the compassion and the courage to defy her father’s orders and care for the child, Moses would have been left abandoned to die.

Without the compassion and courage of Moses’ sister, a wet-nurse may never have been found to care for the child.

The life of Moses relies on others – not just his mother, but on a sister, and on one who becomes his foster-parent. The love and compassion associated with mothering can take on many different forms.

It is good to remember not just our biological mothers, but those who have gone out of their way to care for us, to nurture us, support us over the years, whether when we were younger or when going through hard times or in our old age.

I was humbled and challenged when in Kenya last month by my hosts, Bethuel and Elisabet. They had three children of their own, but they had welcomed into their home a young girl and her child. She had become pregnant and been thrown out of her home. So they took her in, and are now helping her with her schooling. It is beautiful to see how their care and compassion is bringing transformation and life to that girl’s life, and the life of her child.

I wonder who has been a mother to you, who has shown you love, who has nurtured you and helped you. And look around our world. Who provides that role to many today?

Nursery staff, teachers, foster-parents, grand-parents, nurses and carers.

Can you imagine the pain for Moses’ mother of having to let her child go, both the first time, in that basket on the river, and then the second time, when he was old enough to go and live in the palace as Pharaoh’s daughter’s son.

But Moses’ mother is not the only mother in the Bible who suffers the pain and loss of being a mother. There are many others, as our Gospel reading reminded us

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Jesus’ mother and the other women to watch as Jesus died.

As so many of you know, caring comes at a cost. If we wanted to stop ourselves from getting hurt, the most fool-proof way would be to stop loving others. But love means that we care, and love means that we we feel the loss when things go wrong or when separation happens.

I know that there are many people in the congregation who care for others, and who experience the pain of that caring. It may be the pain caused by distance or infirmity – I want to be able to help but I just can’t do it any more. It may be the pain of seeing a loved one gradually decline, seeing that they are not living life as fully as they once did. It may be the pain of separation or death. Or the pain of feeling pulled in many different directions at once.

Love comes at a cost. Christ knows that. Indeed, it was his love for us that took him to the cross. But it is also his love that can transform our pain, that can bring hope and light out of the darkness.

Love and compassion comes at a cost, but Christ shows us that the cost is worthwhile.

Moses, against all the odds, grows up to be the liberator of Israel. He is used by God to help his people escape slavery in Egypt and come eventually to the promised land. It is the most remarkable turn-around in the history of the Old Testament.

Jesus suffers death, but through that death he overcomes evil and death and rises from the dead to give us all the gift of eternal life. It is the most remarkable turn-around of all history.

Love does involve cost, but it is also the place where we are most fully human, most fully the people God has made us to be. It is when we love, when we care, when we reach out with compassion, that God is most fully seen in us, when the world is filled with hope and life.

Today, on Mothering Sunday, we celebrate and give thanks for all those who show us what it means to love.