Can’t let this Mother’s Day slip past without some remembrances. And a tribute.
Poets and philosophers and songwriters have long since decided that there is no sweeter word in any language than “Mother.” Well, maybe “Mama,” my personal favorite. Even “Lord” or “God” may rank second, probably because there are austere and ominous connotations in the name of the creator who eventually will judge all mankind, at least to those who don’t know him intimately.
But most of us have few negative or fearful feelings about our mothers; we seem to remember most the loving, nurturing, encouraging, forgiving, and self-sacrificing attributes of our moms. Although Dad may have been demanding, exacting, short-tempered, or distant at times, Mom was always understanding, supportive, and easy to wheedle out of something extra. She expected the best of us and sometimes actually seemed to get it.
I’ve always gotten a kick out of the account of Jesus’ first miracle at Cana in Galilee, the changing of water to wine at the wedding feast. The young apostle John, who witnessed the event, describes the event in chapter two of his Gospel.
There was no TV in those days, no movies or other entertainment of the type we’re used to — so a big wedding, with plenty of food and wine, was a major thing. So running out of wine when the evening was far from over was a catastrophe.
Jesus, the disciples he’d begun gathering, and his mother had come to the wedding from Nazareth, probably because the hosts were close friends, and Mary was understandably concerned about those friends who were about to be terribly embarrassed.
She hurried to her son, took him aside, and confided, “They have no more wine, son.”
“Dear woman, why are you telling me this?” Jesus said. “My time has not yet come.”
We can only guess what Mary had already seen of Jesus’ power or ability, but it’s clear that she felt he could do something about the wine shortage, and it wasn’t making a quick trip to a nearby 7 Eleven. At least he had “connections,” a relationship with his real father, and she hoped he could save the day somehow.
So Mama Mary said to the nearby servants, "Do whatever my boy tells you.” And she walked away.
Many times I’ve imagined Jesus looking skyward for some kind of heavenly advice, shrugging his shoulders, and murmuring to his father, “It’s my mama, father. She knows I can do something about this, and you taught me to obey her. It’s ahead of schedule, and this doesn’t seem very important spiritually — but it’s Mama. Shall I?”
And apparently he got an okay from above. So he told the servants, who were waiting for instructions, as Mary had directed, to fill six great big stone water jars, each holding 20 to 30 gallons, to fill them with water. And they did, to the brim.
Then, amazingly, he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
The servants did as they were told, probably quite fearful of the master’s reaction to this strange order, but were astonished when he tasted the water — now turned into wine — and commended the bridegroom, saying, “Everybody else brings out the choice wine first, my friend, and after the guests have drunk too much and don’t know the difference, they serve the cheap stuff. But you — you’ve saved the very best till now!” And the wedding celebration was saved.
The writer John then says, “This was the very first of Jesus’ miraculous signs. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.”
We don’t know what his first miracle would have been otherwise, but we do know that he changed his divine plans — because his Mama was concerned for their friends, and because she asked him to.
Does that tell you something about how God feels about mothers?
My mama, Margaret Virginia Pritchard Boone, was like that. She didn’t know the meaning of the word “can’t,” when it came to helping our neighbors or friends, even when Daddy protested we didn’t have enough money to do what she wanted. He told her more than once, “Margaret, I’d like to help those folks, too, but if we keep giving everything we’ve got away, we’ll have to get somebody to help us!”
My brother Nick and I, and our sisters Margie and Judi, all knew we didn’t have to ask whether we could bring a friend over for dinner; Mama always cooked more than we needed and never objected when there were more than our immediate six at the table. I can’t begin to recount all the kindnesses and concerns she and Daddy showed for so many, even though we couldn’t afford a car — made do with the company pickup truck, to my growing embarrassment — till I was in the eighth grade.
Still, Mama was den mother when Nick and I were in the Cub Scouts, and she and Daddy were always involved in our later Boy Scout and school activities. She had some built-in radar that told her when any of her kids was up to something, and she didn’t hesitate to tan our hides if we dared sass or disobey. But she also was a registered nurse, and when any of us got hurt — as we each did from time to time — it was so good to know Mama knew exactly what to do, and she did it. We were sheltered, encouraged, and disciplined in what seems to us a loving and Godly way.
I’ll bet Jesus’ young mama was a lot like that. And that’s why he simply couldn’t say no when she asked him to alter his own plans to fit her unselfish concern for somebody else.
I’m married to a mama like that, and together we’ve parented four daughters who are a lot like that themselves. God loves mamas, maybe more than we completely can realize. But it’s good when we take at least one day out of 365 to pay the mothers in our lives the tribute they richly deserve.
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