Summary: I want us to look briefly at two worshipping women who shared the same name, but had different job descriptions: Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene, who as far as we know, was not a mother.
While it’s nearly impossible to spell out everything a mother does, this Motherhood Job Description hits the highlights.
TITLE: Mother, Mom, Mama, Mommy.
SUMMARY: Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24-hour shifts on call. Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities. Extensive courier duties also required.
RESPONSIBILITIES: The rest of your life. Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5. Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next. Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE: None required, unfortunately. On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.
WAGES AND COMPENSATION: Get this! You pay them! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. When you die, you give them whatever is left. The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and only wish you could do more.
BENEFITS: This job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life if everything goes right.
I wonder how many would apply for the post of motherhood if they knew in advance what they were getting into. Actually, I think there’d still be a lot women signing up! I recognize that while this is a happy day for many of you, for some, this is a difficult day. Perhaps your mom has died and you miss her terribly. Or maybe you’ve always struggled with your mom and you don’t have very good memories. Others of you are hurting as you watch your mother’s health deteriorate. Some of you have experienced the pain of losing a child, while others have children who have strayed. This can be a trying time for single women and for married women without children. It’s also possible that a few of you are birth moms and you’ve made the tough choice to give your child up for adoption.
While today is Mother’s Day, I want to broaden the scope of this sermon to suggest that we must do a better job of honoring women in our church, in our homes, and in our society. Women played a key role in the Bible.
Here’s a brief summary of just the events surrounding the death of Jesus:
Women were the last to leave the Cross (Mark 15:47)
Women were the first at the Tomb (John 20:1)
Women were the first to proclaim the Resurrection (Matthew 28:8)
I want us to look briefly at two worshipping women who shared the same name, but had different job descriptions: Mary, the mother of Jesus; and Mary Magdalene, who as far as we know, was not a mother. Let’s begin by noticing that their names were actually Miriam. That means that they were named after the sister of Moses, who most commentators believe was stationed at the Nile River to help rescue her baby brother (see Exodus 2:1-8). Miriam is referred to as a prophetess (Exodus 15:20-21).
Mary the Mother
First, we’ll study the job description of Mary the Mother of Jesus rather quickly because most of us already know her life story. The biblical word translated “mother” is the Hebrew word “AME” (pronounced “ah-may”), and means, “the bond of the family” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, 13). I see at least seven principles from Mary’s role as a mother that can benefit those who are the adhesive in the home today.
1. Get ready to serve. In the history of the church Mary has often been portrayed as a kind of misty, otherworldly figure. That’s a shame because the Bible makes it clear that she was very real, with very real doubts, very real questions and very real faith. Nowhere is this seen with more clarity than in Luke 1:38 when she responds to Gabriel’s remarkable birth announcement: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” Without a doubt, servanthood is at the heart of motherhood.
A teacher at school put this question to little James in math class, “James, suppose your mother made a cherry pie, and there were ten of you at the table: your mother and father and eight children. How much of the pie would you get?”
“A ninth,” was his answer. “No, no, James. Now pay attention. There are ten of you in the home. Don’t you know your fractions?” “Yes, ma’am,” he replied, “I know my fractions, but I know my mother even better, AND SHE’D SAY THAT SHE DIDN’T WANT ANY PIE.”