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Mothers Day - Exodus 2:1-10

Now some mothers are famous and to illustrate this we are going to have a little quiz; so fingers on buzzers please, ten questions coming up:

Who was the mother of:

  1. Queen Elizabeth the second?

  2. Bart Simpson

  3. William and Harry Windsor

  4. Elizabeth the first

  5. Winston Churchill

  6. Queen Victoria

  7. Brooklyn and Chelsea Beckham

  8. Jesus

  9. Jack and Kelly Osborne

  10. Liza Minnelli

But some mothers, if not most, are not famous.  For many years, I kept a newspaper cutting in my files which was simply a picture of a four or five year old girl looking out of a train window.  Finally it yellowed and is now lost, otherwise I would have brought it this morning, but I kept it because it reminded me of Snejana, one of my colleagues in Paris who, one day, told me her story. 

Firstly she was not after all French, but Yugoslavian and she is about my age.  When she was five, in a modern day version of the Moses story, her mother had put her on a west bound train in Zagreb Central Station, with a label round her neck saying “Please look after me, I am a refugee from the fighting in my country.”  The train went to Paris.  She was taken in by nuns in a central Parisian orphanage and when I met her first in 1994, she had not yet been back to the country of her birth.  The girl in my newspaper cutting, at least two generations later, was fleeing Bosnia.  Her expression of complete bewilderment, deep sadness and total innocence so mirrored what I felt Snejana was talking about that I saved the picture.  I never met Snejana’s mum but I would have liked to.  What an astonishingly brave thing to do, like Moses’ mother, to consign your baby to the flow of a train not knowing and in her case never to know what was to become of her.  Yet she did this, realising that this was her daughter’s best chance.

So this morning we celebrate mothers, and also I think fathers and other principal carers.  Today, as many of us often know, it is grandparents who play an important role.  We celebrate those who give silently and in an unrecognised way; those who give deeply of themselves.

WaltWhitman in his collection of poems called “Leaves of Grass”, included a poem called “There was a child went forth” indeed that is its opening line, and in it he describes many of the sights, sounds and sensations that form us.  For example:

“the early lilacs became part of this child”

In the central part of the poem he comes to family.  Now we need to make some allowance that Whitman was writing in the mid 1800’s and this may explain the gender stereotype, but the point he wants to make is there clearly in the last line of the poem:

“These [the family] became part of that child who went forth every day and who now goes and will always go forth every day.”

So let us thank God, together, for all who nurture children, for those who nurtured us and for those who made us who we are.

Amen.

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