Most of the world it seemed, stopped to watch the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle. A wedding filled with so many beautiful and poignant moments. Pomp and Pagentry. Royalty and stars. But who can forget the impassioned sermon delivered by Bishop Michael Curry on the redemptive power of love.
“Imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families where love is the way. Imagine neighbourhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce where this love is the way. Imagine this tired old world where love is the way. When love is the way – unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive. When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again…When love is the way, poverty will become history.”
Bishop Michael Curry began his message with this quote from Dr Martin Luther King, I choose to close with it.
“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.”
Dr Martin Luther King
Imagine a world that follows the way of love. For where love is, God is, for God is love.
How does one start to write about Mother’s Day? The Day that encapsulates so much. It’s one of those things that brings every single emotion to the table. Every. Emotion. Good and bad. This one day on the calendar brings with it so many different experiences, so many different reactions. I can think to only borrow the opening words of Chares Dickens to his novel “A tale of two cities”.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
That really sums up motherhood. There’s So much joy and love. Highs and lows. Good days and bad days. Days when you think you really nailed it. And days when you want to hide in your wardrobe!
Mother’s Day intensifies all those feels! A day filled with love and cuddles, visits of family and breakfast in bed. But it is also a day of loss and heartache. To some of us, this day is empty, void. A spotlight on the loss of a mother or of a child or fractured relationships. To others it is a hollow day reminding us of dreams that are broken. Or it’s a day that just reminds you that your Mother’s day is a lot more complicated than the adverts would have us believe.
There’s a mother in the Bible whose life hadn’t turned out how she imagined. She’s not your pin-up, go to example of a great woman in the Bible. She’s not Mary, Hannah or Sarah. She’s the other woman. Hagar. The other woman to Sarah. The mother of Ishmael not Isaac. The example of, perhaps, how not to do life. But yet she has an incredible encounter with God.
We find her in Genesis 16. Pregnant and mistreated she flees her home, her employment, her life. But God meets her in the desert, comforts and reassures her.
She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me, for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.” (Genesis 16:13)
God sees you. Whatever this day holds for you. God sees you. YOU. You with the baby that won’t sleep, you with the crippling morning sickness or daily IVF injections. You with the silent loss. You with the juggling of motherhood and work. You as you guide your children into adulthood. You whose children have grown up and left home but still you worry about them.
He sees you. For He is El Roi – The God who sees.
Wherever you are, whatever this day holds for you – the good, the bad, the ugly, the happy tears, the sad tears – God sees you. And He comes with an abundance of grace and love specifically for you and your season.
Have you ever stood at the edge of the sea and felt the pull of the tide at your feet? Felt the shifting sand beneath you, pulling you into the rhythm of the waves? Threatening to pull you under?
The wind picks up and surf seems angrier and fiercer. Sandcastles easily crumble and disappear. It’s a losing battle. Efforts to protect fail and all evidence of the castles disappear.
Where is faith when the waves come crashing in? Where is hope?
Trust is on the other side of the breaking waves. Your feet can’t touch the ground but God has you safe.
And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Easter is a great time for traditions. The eating of hot cross buns on Good Friday, telling the story of Easter through resurrection eggs. Going to church and yes consuming chocolate eggs. It’s a time as a family when there are many conversations about Jesus and how He died for us. Conversations of Heaven, of faith.
I remember the Easters of my childhood. The oven that kept hot cross buns warm all day long, the fish pie on Good Friday, watching a movie of Jesus (or not watching in my case as it was too sad!). Crowding into a wooden pew in a country church on Easter Sunday while my father took the service.
These memories are woven into my life and faith. But so to are the everyday demonstrations of faith. Memories of my mother getting us out of bed to listen to a worship song she’d excitedly requested on radio (well before the days of spotify), or my father busy writing his sermon but still graciously pausing to listen to whatever was worrying us until we had run out of words. These are the threads of authenticity, of hearts that were and are still turned towards God. These and many other examples demonstrated daily the authenticity of their faith and the reality of Jesus in their lives. Threads that I was able to grasp onto and weave into my own life.
The shiny easter egg wrappings get cast aside and we move back into the everyday. But it is in the everyday that we have the most opportunity to share our faith. It is in our everyday that our light shines and we leave threads of faith for others.
Glancing through a children’s book on Easter, was a page that said “Jesus had to know betrayal , fear, loneliness, hurt, all the painful feelings that people experience, so that in the future, His Spirit could be with us, comforting us in our fear, loneliness and pain. That is why we call the day of his death GOOD Friday.”
I loved how it said that. So many times we can feel that nobody else is going through what we’re going through, feeling what we’re feeling. But Jesus went through it all and understands! Furthermore, by taking all our pain, hurts and sins with Him on the cross we are have access to hope, reassurance of that which is to come. Healing. Restoration. Fullness of life. The price has been paid. The work finished. We don’t have to do life alone, the Holy Spirit is there to bring us comfort when we need.
Whatever you are going through, know this, God’s got you and is with you all the time!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Turn away your thoughts of melancholy, of worry, of fear. Think of the lovely, the excellent, the beautiful. The joy.