Loving and caring for one another is traditionally linked with the idea of motherhood. However, not all mothers are naturals at this and sometimes that figure in our lives who provides that love and care is in fact not our mothers. For me though, my mother did provide that nurturing care that helped me to develop a sense of empathy and compassion in my life. As a child, my brothers and I spent a lot of time playing in the acres and acres of wooded swamp land around our house. We were not squeamish about getting covered head to toe in mud and dirt. One day all three of us were out exploring the lands across the street from my parent’s property. To get there we climbed a stone wall and very gingerly climbed between the barbed wire fencing that was intended to keep trespassers out. It certainly did not stop us.
We fought our way through the briar bushes and into a bit of a clearing. We hiked along a stream and eventually found a pine tree that was bent over in such away as to make a really cool fort for us to play in. It was going to be our secret fort where no one was going to be able to find us. At that time, our parents only cared if we were within ear shot of the house. My mother certainly did not know where we were that day. So we played there for a few hours before deciding to go back home. On our hike out of the woods, we had to journey back through the treacherous briar bushes. They left huge scraps on our legs and arms.
But it didn’t seem to matter too much. There were many low branches of blue briars and we were supposed to hold them until the person behind had it before leaving the area. Well my older brother Jason thought I had a good hold on the branch and let go. I did not. The branch went flying right into my eyes, and this was before I had the protection of glasses. Let me tell you, that was all sorts of painful. Being a little kid, I handled the pain as a child would. I cried and my eyes swelled shut. I now I was blind, scratched up in the face and the tears were making everything sting worse than it would have otherwise and I was in the middle of the woods. I still had to finish walking back to the barbed wire fence, climb it and then climb the stone wall to get home to some relief.
How on Earth were we going to manage? My oldest brother yelled at my brother Jason and then he picked me up and carried me over the fence and wall and all the way home. My mother asked very little questions. She looked at me and saw the blood and she very gently used warm water and a rag to clean me up and calm me down. She never got the full story but her calm and cool nature was always what kept me calm. She was able to help me heal and sooth my fears. I was certain that I was now blinded for the rest of my life.
As an adult, we have those same moments in our lives when we are challenged with physical, emotional, or spiritual ailments. Times when we don’t feel calm, cool, and collected; times when we just want to sit down like a child and just cry out of frustration and pain. Sometimes we wish that we could just go home and have mom make things all better again. Sometimes we wish mom was there to clean our wounds and comfort our hearts.
This is what we see God doing in our scriptures and this is the role that we are called to take on when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. Psalm 97 is a song about the glory of God and in it we get a description of what sets God a part from all of the idols worshipped at that time and here is what it says, “The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues the them from the hand of the wicked”. God loves humanity as a parent might love their child. He protects and cares for them as perhaps our mothers did for us when we were growing up. God’s love is complex and not dependent on sacrifices or the events of the day but remains no matter the struggles we have faced, no matter how damaged we might feel, even when those wounds are self inflicted. God is there to provide us with wholeness and to lift us back up when we have fallen.
Think of your mothers or that person in your life who gave you that nurture and care. What were or are some of the attributes that stand out to you. (Invite the congregation to share) For me it was the gentleness, comfort, care, and protection that I felt when my mother was present. As a child, I always felt safe and like everything was going to be alright when my mother was present. It was the gentleness with which she would patch me up when I had one of my many accidents. It was the way she knew just how to calm me down and just what to do to help me problem solve.
In the reading from Acts this morning, we see that this same care, compassion, and love is what is required of all believers and followers of Christ. Last week, we spoke about spiritual hospitality and this is what it looks like, to care of our fellow people as if they were a member of our family. Our scriptures say, “At the same hour of the night he (the jailer) took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay. He brought them up into the house and set food before them; and he and his entire household rejoiced that he had become a believer in God”. That jailer took compassion on Paul and Silas cleaning their wounds from being whipped and caring for their hunger and needs. This is the same love and care we are called to when we welcome others into the faith and into our spiritual home. We are called to love other people, to care for them, to protect them, to welcome them, to provide for them. So as you go forth today into your mother’s day weekend. Remember the love, guidance, and gentle care you experienced and find one way to care for someone else in the same manner this week. For this is the life of hospitality that we are all called to each and every day as believers, as followers of Christ.
 Psalm 97, NRSV.
 Acts 16: 33-34, NRSV.
(Based on Psalm 97 and Acts 16: 16-34)