Lessons at the Meal-Table

For a while, I’ve been thinking about the story of Jesus’ first public miracle. It’s been on my mind again as I’ve read about the meals he attended, as well as those he longs to have with us now. The wedding at Cana was one of them. At these times he took the opportunity to teach important truths, and I’ve wondered what he wanted to teach me in this one. His disciples were present; his mother, Mary, was there too. John recorded the ‘water into wine’ story in his gospel – John 2:1- 12.

It might seem that Mary was a bit pushy in this situation. Although Jesus’ first response to her small hint looked rather discouraging, he then went on to create a miracle!

As I’ve thought of it, perhaps Mary may have experienced similar events before, in which her special son had come to her aid in times of need (obviously unbeknown to the other children in the family who found it difficult to believe in him during his time of ministry). I’ve no way of knowing whether Jesus performed miracles in his home, but we do know that he’d learnt to work at what he’d seen his heavenly Father doing, so here is an example from his public life.

Around this time I’d also been thinking about ‘fathers in the faith’ – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, plus others – and I’d noticed another thing in this story: Mary was a mother of faith. Her experience in this area began early. When the Archangel, Gabriel, came to tell her that she would become the mother of the Messiah, she was already in a place where she could accept God’s will for her life. The Lord’s word on a matter meant everything to Mary. He would have made sure that she knew about the promises he’d made to Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Even though some of these women had doubts in their faith walk, Mary could still learn from those mothers of faith. And Jesus always responds positively to faith – You can never please God without faith…he rewards those who sincerely look for him ~ Hebrews 11:6.

So what have I learnt from this story? First, Jesus is still in the business of providing simple things for me in my life. There have been situations in the past when I’ve needed  help during financial stress. For example, before our son’s wedding, we lacked suitable clothes to wear, and I had to remember that my faith should be in the Lord (not in the Australian Government’s provision, as I’d originally thought!) Yes! It’s God who is my provider. And more recently, he’s provided words that gave me courage to trust him with my medication, by showing the doctor not to recommend an unnecessary medication for me which other doctors were eager to prescribe.

Another thing I learnt from the wedding at Cana was that Jesus revealed his glory in this event. I knew that Peter, James and John had seen Jesus in all his glory when he was transfigured on the mount. But it isn’t only in the majestic events that he shows his glory; it’s also in the common, down-to-earth, everyday moments. How personal is his touch on our lives at these times when we feel his presence surrounding us. I wonder what the bridegroom thought, or even the person in charge of that marriage feast in Cana, once they learnt of the miracle they’d been given, when they hadn’t even asked for it!

Mary, along with Jesus’ disciples and maybe his brothers, would have learnt something from this miraculous event. Perhaps you have too.

 

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Looking Ahead with Hope

It’s interesting to read old musings… I wrote this on the 30th of December, 2000.

As we rush towards the end of this amazing year, are we ready for the next year to amaze us?  The word ‘amazing’ is mostly reserved for good things, but it’s also appropriate for this year’s dramas. How many of us ever expected such horrors? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could use ‘amazing’ for good things in 2021?

I’ve listened to several end-of-year speeches by world leaders. The ones I enjoyed the most were spoken from their hearts. Important matters: what was significant for them in their own lives, and what they believed would benefit those they cared about: their people, their nation, and the world. Their faith in God.

The pandemic still affects our lives, and has left its mark on the hearts of those who suffered loss this year. I pray they’ll find more joy, love, and peace in the future. Most of us desire the same blessings – for others, and ourselves – and the speeches I heard echo them. While I can’t see inside the hearts of these leaders; I hope they’re not merely mouthing platitudes.

In my search for messages online, I unexpectedly found an old 1941 recording of President Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, who were together on Christmas Eve in America, each giving a speech to encourage the peoples of the world to keep on fighting in their conflict against the forces of evil. Churchill particularly urged his American friends to make sure they gave their children a happy time that night before their country raced back to the war after briefly remembering the One who’d been born to bring them eternal peace.

After that, I watched Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain encouraging her people to turn to the Light of the world for hope in their fight against the pandemic. She said that Jesus had meant so much to her during her life.

I also listened to our Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, urging us to follow this scripture verse: ‘And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up’ – Galatians 6:9 (ESV).

Then I thought about the original Christmas speech by the angel who spoke those thrilling words to the shepherds. ‘Today your Saviour, Christ the Lord, was born in David’s City!’ – Luke 2:11 (God’s Word Translation)

No television, internet, movie or video there, but a special bright star in the sky and a company of angels praising God because of this baby’s birth. The shepherds heeded the angel’s words; some wise men followed the star, and they all found him in Bethlehem. The time for this child’s own important speech was many years away in the future. He gave it quietly, at night, to a Jewish teacher, but it’s been recorded and repeated; probably the most recited words in the Bible.

Jesus said, ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life’ – John 3: 16 (NASB).

People might forget the messages of the Queen, the Prime Minister, and others who speak of their personal faith in these perilous times, but Jesus’ words are still there in the Bible. He too spoke of his faith – faith in his Father’s love. He sent out his words to anyone who will respond to them.

Now, as I re-read what I’d written, I wonder about 2021. Is the world any closer to believing what Jesus said? This pandemic may continue for years, but Jesus’ words will never pass away. Amazing!

 

 

 

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Lessons from our Almond Tree

Our almond tree had a slow start last year. Maybe, like us, it was in lockdown! What with possums chewing its fresh shoots, and being crowded out by the lasiandra growing beside it, it produced no fruit.

I thought it looked odd. From where I usually observed it, one branch down near the bottom was grotesquely bent behind the main trunk.

I asked Maurie why he hadn’t pruned it into a better shape, and he said, ‘It was larger than the usual plants from the nursery, so I couldn’t change it’. Later, when I stood on the lawn, instead of the verandah, I realised that the branch was alright; it was just the way I’d been looking at it.

This year the tree began to blossom before all our other espaliered trees. The flowers were beautiful after winter, and the bees from our garden-hive loved them! In Bible days, the almond tree’s blossom was the harbinger of Spring: new life, renewal, and hope in the coming harvest. I’ve also discovered that the almond nut is really a kind of stone fruit, and related to the peach. They’re technically called drupes.

All this made me think about almond branches in the Bible. Aaron’s rod for instance. That amazing story is from Numbers 17: 1-11. You can read the reason for the whole event in the previous chapters of the book of Numbers. Here God was dealing with people who thought they knew more about how things should look than he did. Their view was from the verandah; His was from the lawn!

In the story, among all the walking sticks belonging to the leaders of the tribes of Israel, Aaron’s was the only one that developed buds, blossom, and ripe almonds overnight – all on the one branch! God instructed Moses to place Aaron’s rod in front of the Covenant Box so the Israelites would always remember not to complain against the Lord. Every time they saw that miraculous almond branch, they’d recall the terrible cost of rebellion.

And there’s also the scripture where God showed an almond branch to Jeremiah the prophet (Jeremiah 1:11). God used these examples to teach his people that he sees what they’re doing. He knows them better than they know themselves. After reading Jeremiah’s story, I asked Maurie if he could tell the difference between a branch from an apple tree and one from a pear. ‘Of course’, he replied.

‘So what would you be looking for?’ I asked. ‘Can you explain it to me?’

‘No’, he said. ‘I just know’. I thought about that, and wondered whether his answer was the same reason for Jeremiah’s answer to the Lord. God had asked him, ‘What do you see?’ and he’d replied, ‘A branch of an almond tree’.

Was Jeremiah like my husband, raised by his father on an orchard? Or had he been familiar from childhood with the menorah, a gold lampstand crafted like an almond tree, with blossoms incorporated into it, and all from one piece of gold? (Exodus 25: 31-40). I think it’s the latter because Jeremiah’s father, Hilkiah, was a priest. What we’re familiar with often becomes a part of us, but we can’t always explain why. We just know.

Aaron’s rod is also mentioned in the New Testament – in Hebrews 9:4 – where the writer explains the difference between Jesus’ sacrifice and the old way of dealing with sin. My ‘better view’ of our almond tree continues to remind me how God sees me. The lovely blossom makes way for the next stage of growth – God’s perfect growth.

                         Almond tree with the pruned lasiandra – 24 Aug 2021
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Proud of Our Work?

I always read Jo-Anne Berthelsen’s weekly Blog post. We’ve never met, but I laugh when I see she’s often touched on subjects similar to what I’d already planned to say in my own fortnightly post on here! Maybe God wants to say something special when he’s giving us the same thoughts?

So I wasn’t surprised to see Jo-Anne’s post today about her church’s Art Display. What amazing creative contributions there were from members of the congregation. Before I read her Blog post, I’d been writing something about my own work; I’d even had the thought of contributing it to the Auction at my church’s Missions Dinner. It was also at threat of being cancelled due to a COVID lockdown. My work was a cushion cover, and I was so pleased with the way it had turned out. 

Creativity is a personal thing, but I often feel guilty about being proud of my limited efforts when I know any ability I have is a gift from my heavenly Father. But then I remembered how God, when he’d finished creating the world, sat back and rested on the seventh day. He looked at all he’d done, and exclaimed, ‘That’s very good!!’ 

I’ve often had failures, and a few surprising successes, such as the cushion-cover pictured here. It began as a photo of an iris in our garden. I originally planned to give it away, but not many people I know have the right colour scheme in their home to suit it. It lay in a pillowcase for years, awaiting my decision on its future owner. I wanted to give it to someone who’d appreciate my work! I knew I shouldn’t be proud, so that attitude took a bit of the shine off it.

But one day I was thinking, If God can be proud of his handiwork, maybe I can too? Since he’d given me that gift, supposing I could use it to show my own ability as well as his, would I do it? I’d never thought of it like that before. 

What if God had surveyed the lovely scene before him on that seventh day, and said, ‘Well, I made all this! I’m God, after all’. No, he delighted in it, every bit of it! So that’s what I’ll do. As long as I don’t yearn for praise about it being my own work, it will be okay to share the pleasure with him, don’t you think? Why should we have a false humility about everything we do? Or is it alright for me to say, like God, as I look at my purple iris cushion, ‘I think this is beautiful’, and delight in it? 

Not everyone has the same creative taste, but I do wonder about God’s criteria when I see some of the creatures he made! Take the blobfish (right) which has been described as ‘aesthetically-challenged!’ But, as someone said, ‘their mother loves them!’ And so does God. My own mother once told me she and Dad thought I was lovely! While I have no delusions about my own beauty, now I’m older, most of the time I don’t mind what I look like!   

I think the people who generously entered their lovely work in the display at Jo-Anne Berthelsen’s church, can be proud of their creations. I’ve enjoyed seeing them online; every contribution has a beauty of its own. You can check them out here: 2021 | mysite (pbcartinstallation.com)

Now I have one more question for you: Who overheard God saying, ‘It is very good’, and recorded it for us?  I believe he said it for himself! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Like a Mother

My mother rose early each day to prepare my father’s breakfast. She laid the table the evening before, then in the morning, she cooked his toast and eggs while he was out in the chook-pen, mixing up warm food for his fowls. 

Later, while we children slept, Mum began our breakfast. I remember her calling to us: ‘What do you want on your toast?’ She’d hurry out with plates of our preferences, and we’d eat it before getting out of bed! Yes, we were spoilt, but she had a tiny kitchen, and probably found it more convenient not to have the three of us underfoot. Well, that’s my excuse!  

As I’ve read the story of Jesus preparing breakfast on the beach for seven of his disciples (John 21:9), I’ve noticed his thoughtfulness, and his example to them, and to us. Have you ever wondered where he obtained the food he’d prepared on the beach that morning? I have. Often. When they drew close to the shore after a night of fruitless fishing, there he was, with fish and bread, and he even had a fire going. I picture him standing there, calling them in to share what he’d prepared.

I’m always trying to see something new about Jesus in the Gospels. It would not be difficult for the person who’d turned plain water into wine, to later produce some fresh fish and delicious bread to go with it. And how easy for the creator of the world, who made all the beautiful plants and animals, to make enough loaves for eight people. That’s nothing compared with the five-thousand-plus crowd he’d once fed. And then there was the four-thousand congregation he’d also provided with dinner. These examples might be only a few of many that occurred when he was on earth. A whole book about feeding thousands of people wouldn’t be so riveting after a while!

But it is fascinating to ponder the origins of these meals, especially this one for a small group of fishermen. We shouldn’t become immune to their miraculous creation, because after a while we could pass over them as if we knew the whole story. The fish mightn’t have been difficult to find. He could have gone down to the shore and waded in a little way and…there you’d have it! Aboriginals can make a fire without matches, so maybe that’s not a big miracle?? But bread? Amazing!

There are a few verses in the Psalms which tell us how like a mother our Lord is. He sees our need for sustenance and protection, and he has it all ready for us. But do we reach out for it? Do we tell him about our needs? He doesn’t have to be told, but how he longs for us to ask, so we are aware, when he provides, that it all comes from his hand. As Jesus said to the people of Jerusalem (see Luke and Matthew’s Gospels), quoting Psalm 91: 1-4:    

How many times have I wanted to put my arms around your people as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings…but you would not? What a graphic picture!

Jesus knew these discouraged fishermen would need a decent breakfast. They’d be tired, and they’d be missing him too. So he provided for them. It was a prelude to an important conversation he was about to have with them on providing meals for the needy. Like a mother, he went ahead and set the example. He expects us to be like mothers to his people, not only feeding them, but keeping them safe. What a kind kind and caring Saviour. 

 

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Jesus and the Honeycomb

Bees are one of the most fascinating creatures in our World. I have no knowledge of any critters outside our planet; there are enough on Earth to learn about in my lifetime! But I do admire the soft, fluffy beauty of honey bees and their clever habits, even if they might give a nasty sting sometimes.

Have you heard of the dance that the ‘scout’ bee performs to demonstrate to the other bees in the hive, where the best nectar is located? They’ve no maps, words, written signposts, or electronic signals, but their communication is brilliant.

Bees are the only insects that produce food for humans. Honey has no use-by date as it never goes off. It’s been acclaimed as a healing treatment for burns, on wounds, and as a preservative. Can you think of other uses – apart from eating it straight? The bee is an amazing example of God’s creation. How often he provides for us in ways that are beyond our understanding.

As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Maurie, my husband, is a bee-keeper – an apiarist. He loves his bees, but he’s been too ill to visit the hives. He’s now well enough to again take up the task he was doing before: making frames, preparing to melt the leftover wax so he could make foundation, and putting his whole Honey Room in order. Now he can get on with it! For a normally hard worker like him, it’s good to see him up and ready to go; just like his bees!

Soon he’ll be feeding them the sugar syrup that will keep them going until the weather fines up. He’s bought packets of sugar and a big pot to heat it in. He has an induction hot-plate out there so he can keep any stickiness out of our neat and tidy kitchen in the house! I like honey, but I can’t stand ants that send out their emissaries to see if visiting our kitchen benches is a profitable option! I wonder how they know when it’s sweet on there. Bees aren’t usually so cheeky, but the occasional one might get inside before we carefully usher it out into the garden where it belongs.

When I was researching for this post, I discovered that there’s a mention in some Bible translations that Jesus ate honeycomb. I don’t know why that word isn’t in all the versions of Luke 24: 42-43. It’s an interesting piece of information. The story occurred after Jesus’ resurrection, when he amazed his disciples with his sudden appearance among them. He showed them his hands and feet, and said, ‘Feel me, and see; ghosts have no flesh or bones as you can see that I have’. While they gaped at him in bewilderment, he asked, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’

What a shock! I can’t blame them because I’d be astounded in the same situation. But the JB Phillips translation of Luke’s gospel reads: They gave him a piece of broiled fish and part of a honeycomb, which he took and ate before their eyes. As the creator of honey bees, and the designer of the honeycomb, he had a right to partake of it any time he wished. 

I love to discover these little interesting things about Jesus. It thrills me that he is so like us. We get hungry, we like sweet food, and yet we can sometimes forget these everyday touches that he brings to our lives.  So don’t forget this incident when you eat your honey. I haven’t tried it on cooked fish yet, but it may be really tasty!

 

 

 

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Tomorrow

Why did that song come to my mind? I hadn’t thought of it for about thirty years, but there it was in the middle of the night, calling to me. That’s God speaking. When he knows I’m in need of a special message from him, he drops it into my mind when I’m not expecting it. 

The words of the song challenged my situation. I’d been extremely concerned about my husband’s very slow recovery from an illness. Was he afflicted with something that the doctors were missing in all their scans and blood tests? Why wasn’t he improving? For a week, he could hardly stay awake, and he was too ill to perform his usual tasks. Why, Lord? Then this old song appeared.    

I don’t know about tomorrow, I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to grey … many things about tomorrow I don’t seem to understand, but I know who holds the future, and I know he holds my hand.

I think the author, Ira Stanphill, had stood in a similar place to mine. Perhaps he was concerned about his future, and God reminded him, ‘You don’t always need to know the future. Only believe that I know it, and I’ll look after you’.

And God also emphasises his warning message in different ways. I saw it in the book I was currently reading. The characters in the story also learnt that it’s enough to know about today. Yesterday is gone, I read, so live for today, and trust God for tomorrow. Whatever happens, he holds us. 

Even today, as I wrote this post, I opened the Bible Gateway site, and this verse was already on the page! The Holy Spirit had spoken these words to King David … and now to me. 

The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your loving-kindness, Lord, continues forever ~ Psalm 138:8 – The Living Bible

We humans long to know our future, but God doesn’t always reveal it. He’ll be there for us just as he is today. People often come to church when a prophet is scheduled to speak. Many of them haven’t made an appearance there for months, but they’re hoping God will give them the answers they want about their future lives. 

 
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Don’t Spurn Leftovers or Recycled Food. It Might be Just What You Need!

We had a failed peach cobbler this week: too doughy. Unfortunately, I’d also doubled the recipe!  So I looked online for some inspiration and decided to slice up a few pieces, then fried them. But they were too greasy for us, so back to the drawing board I went and found a ‘cake-scrap bread pudding’ recipe. As I prepared it, I began to meditate on this post which I’d already started to write. I then realised I was doing what Jesus did – using up leftovers. So here it is.

A while ago, I was reading in my Bible about the feeding of the 5000 men. You might like to read it for yourself in John 6: 1-13. I was impressed with the way Jesus used that amazing miracle to teach so many different truths. I love to put myself into the story and imagine how I might have acted if I’d been there. What would be your reaction?

First, I might have overheard how Jesus stretched the faith of his disciple, Philip. And then how he gave Andrew an opportunity to use his God-given people skills. Those interactions are in the story to teach us too. Would we be a Philip or an Andrew in that scenario?

And what about the boy whose lunch Jesus received? What a story he had to tell his mother when he arrived home! If he’d been my son, the conversation might have gone like this: ‘Well, how did it go? Did I give you enough lunch?’

‘Well, I didn’t eat it all, Mum’.

‘Why? Didn’t you like it? What did you do with the rest?  That bread would be dry by now. And what about the fish?’

Maybe you believe I’m taking liberties here. You might say your son would probably go off into his bedroom and leave you to think what you liked. But not this boy. He probably remembered that experience for the rest of his life, and how his small lunch was used by Jesus. Not only had Jesus taken it all, he’d multiplied it, with many leftovers.

Not everybody makes a habit of remembering the wonderful things God does. I get into awkward situations, almost identical to the ones I’ve experienced before, and I still don’t remember the original lesson! The disciples were no different. Soon they were giving Jesus the perfect opportunity to reuse the event for their benefit…and ours. Jesus used a few home truths in that experience too.

At that time, the disciples were out in the boat and they were worried that they’d forgotten to bring bread – Mark 8:13-21. That’s when Jesus pulled out some more teaching and recycled it, reminding them of the 5000 men and the twelve baskets of leftover pieces, and also the seven baskets of bread gathered up after feeding four thousand. But they completely muddled the meaning of these experiences, and so did the crowd who met Jesus on the other side of the sea. He saw what was in their hearts and had to explain it all to them, exposing their stupidity.

I’ve heard the edict about us not giving God our leftovers, but how often do we think of the ‘leftovers’ that he gives to us. They’re not shrunken hand-me-downs, or second-hand spiritual food. They’re always an abundant meal that is freshly prepared just for us and fills us up with new truth. I’ll take God’s ‘recycled leftovers’ every time! Better than the manna in the wilderness that went mouldy when it wasn’t gathered on the right days.

As Jesus said to the people, ‘I am the Bread that God sent from Heaven’ – John 6:33.

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Humour in the Bible

We’d gone to a production in the school hall. A well-known playwright from the big city had directed it, but imagine our delight when we saw that he’d cast our next-door neighbour perfectly… as herself! Idiosyncrasies that we saw daily, were all displayed on stage. Her little-girl voice, short stature, and animated mannerisms made us grin knowingly at each other throughout the performance. For us, she was the main character!

Recalling this experience from years past, I was reminded of a criticism I’d read long before that there is no humour in the Bible. I thought, there’s more than one reason for humour. But for me, its main purpose is to cheer us up; to lighten the conversation.

Of course, it depends on your personal type of humour. If your funny-bone isn’t linked to a well-tuned imagination, you won’t see the comical side to any Bible stories. If you tend not to laugh out loud, as many children do, you won’t giggle at the behaviour of people in the scriptures. There’s comic-relief, dialogue, and delight, but the ones I prefer, happen when I least expect them. For instance, I think Peter’s words, It’s only nine o’clock in the morning, are funny – Acts 2 : 15. The sense of the ridiculous is integral to the humour.

We can also take ourselves too seriously. In 1 Corinthians 12:15-21, Paul may not have made a classic joke, but I think he wrote with a humorous touch by using ‘talking’ body parts to explain God’s plan for each gift of the Holy Spirit. You may insist, ‘It’s a serious subject’, but humour makes it more memorable for me.

One of my favourites is in Judges 3:12–30 about Ehud, the left-handed Israelite who killed the king of Moab in a sleight-of-hand manoeuvre, then disappeared…after locking the doors. When the king’s servants couldn’t gain entrance to their master’s rooms, they thought he was ‘relieving himself’. To me, that’s humorous. Already knowing the background facts brings us right into the situation, and that’s one reason why humour works. Explaining it ruins the fun.  

Don’t say Balaam’s talking donkey isn’t hilarious – Numbers 22:22-3 – and it’s even funnier when his master talks back to him! David said that ‘God laughs at the wicked’ – Ps 2: 4, and how about old Sarah laughing at the words of an ‘angel?’ – Genesis 18:10-12.

When the Jews were regaling their children with stories about their ancestor Judah, they might have said, ‘You should have seen his face when his sin was discovered!’ By then the children would know the story well, and would always delight in Judah’s look of horror at his well-deserved exposure – see Genesis 38.  We can become so accustomed to these Biblical dramas that their humour is lost on us. 

Jesus told the Jews that they couldn’t add to their height by looking in the mirror! We can read that and allow it to ‘pass through to the keeper’, but using our imagination, how ridiculous it is! Try it some time when you’re feeling short, even short-changed! King Solomon of Israel also wrote that a cheerful heart does good like medicine ~ Proverbs 17:22 – The Living Bible.

Here’s another ‘relieving-himself incident’ when Elijah mocked the dancing prophets of Baal – 1 Kings 18: 22-46. He also suggested their god might be daydreaming, or on a holiday. That must have infuriated them, but the crowd of Israelites would have loved it!   

I believe God wants us to utilise the sense of humour he’s given us, but carefully. He doesn’t want cruel jokes that hurt others. He expects us to:

Say only what helps, each word a gift… and to be gentle with one another ~

Ephesians 4 : 29-32 – The Message Bible. 

 

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Memories of Mothers’ Day

On Mother’s Day in 2021, we were able to do the usual thing at our church, and honour the mothers in person, unlike last year, when we were confined to our homes, and had to celebrate online.

Now, in all three of our Sunday services, we mothers were called up onto the platform, and the pastor prayed for us, before the little children handed out gifts. I would have been quite happy with the prayer, but it’s nice for the children to be involved too. It speaks of the generations following on, which God really wants us to understand.

I remember Mothers’ Days from my childhood, where we little ones from the Christian Endeavour Society stood at the two entrances to the church property with a tray of white carnations, and pins to attach them to the lapels and dresses of the members of the congregation. I always felt special when I made this small gesture. The people were effusive in their gratitude. Some already had their own flower in memory of their mother, but others didn’t have any white ones in their gardens. We also had one for ourselves, setting the example in honouring our mothers. I remember how it gave me great pleasure because my flower lasted all day! This year, we were given a choice of mauve or yellow chrysanthemums to wear; no white ones appeared on the table in the church foyer! Traditions change, but the thought is the most important thing.

We jostled on the platform, trying to maintain proper social distancing. The only man on there was the pastor, who ‘happened’ to be standing by me at the end of the front row. He held the microphone, and asked, ‘Are you a mother?’ ‘Yes’, I replied. He continued. ‘Are you a grandmother?’  ‘Yes’, I said, guessing what was coming next, and I was right! He questioned again. ‘Are you a great-grandmother?’

Later, I thought that I should have answered ‘YES!!!!’ in a loud voice to that final question, but I quietly replied, ‘Yes’. Except for my happy smile, my answer didn’t say what I was feeling. What a privilege to be a great-grandmother!! I think I was the only one there in that early meeting. There are several of us in the church, but the others would be at the later services. This moment reminded me of a wonderful promise from God:

But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands ~ Exodus 20:6

When I first realised this, I was overwhelmed. For so long, I’d misunderstood God’s edict that the sins of the parents should be visited on three, or even four generations of a family. But this wasn’t the whole story. I only half-read it. We have such a loving Heavenly Father, surely I should have remembered that his love is everlasting, and he doesn’t give up on his children, and neither should we.

So I rest content in these words that the Lord has given to his people; not just mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, even great-great-grandmothers, but all the fathers too. I think of Naomi with her grandchild, born of her faithful daughter-in-law, Ruth. What a blessing her wonderful Descendant, Jesus, is to us all.

For years I’ve prayed for my children and the spouses they might marry, and I’m still doing it for my grandchildren – and great-grandchildren! If they don’t marry, then there are many other children in the world who require prayer, but don’t have grandparents in their lives.

So none of us need to miss out on enjoying this promise from God!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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