St Peter's Church, Carlton Colville with St Andrew's Church, Mutford

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Luke 2:22-35

Luke 2: 22-35

The World’s Greatest Mom

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But who counts as the world’s greatest mom? The Bible is quite full of them...

Is it Eve? – the very first mother?
The mother of Abraham? The father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam
Rachel, mother of Joseph?
The unnamed mother of Moses, perhaps?
As we read this morning, is it Hannah the mother of Samuel, giving her child to the service of God
Perhaps, its the mother of David
Or is it Mary, the mother of Jesus?

The four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John each have their own audiences and each their own slant on things.  If you would like to have Luke 2 open with you.  Luke, is writing to a non-Jewish audience, Theophilus.  He wants to explain something of the Jewish way of life, so he writes about the customs after child birth.  He has already explained the circumcision and now he writes about Mary’s presentation at the temple, forty days after childbirth – another of those 40 day things! How appropriate in our 40 days of Lent.

Mary, who had already been shocked by an angel, a birth she had little control over, miscellaneous visitors and probably still more to follow!  And now married to an upright Jew she needs to be pronounced ‘clean’ from childbirth – as was the custom.   And the custom was also to present the first born (male) to the Lord, echoes of Hannah and Samuel.

I’m going to ask if Ivan and Jan wouldn’t mind assisting a little here.  You have to imagine them as the young couple Joseph and Mary, doing what is right approaching the temple.  Mary hasn’t been allowed in for 40 days, she was unclean.  She is now allowed to enter.

Although Mary’s parenthood has so far been a bit different shall we say, they are expecting this to be a ritual, a custom – something that just has to be done because....

Judaism is a patriarchy – the males are the focus, the leaders, and yet as far as Luke is concerned the focus so far is really on Mary.  Mary is central here – the Angel comes first to Mary in his story, shocking for such a male dominated society, Mary is told that it will be the Son of God, In Luke’s telling Joseph isn’t even consulted – it is Matthew who keeps with tradition and covers the news to Joseph!

Anyhow, holy family, you may approach now....

Outside the actual reading this morning, Simeon, a holy man living in Jerusalem, takes the baby Jesus from Mary, note that he is not the priest, he is a man in Jerusalem.  We must assume of some importance and with some authority in the Temple.  He takes the baby from Mary, please!

Rather than saying nice words and cooing at the baby – he gives thanks that HE can now die in peace because the baby he holds is the MESSIAH.  

“Now, Lord, you have kept your promise,
    and you may let your servant go in peace.
30 With my own eyes I have seen your salvation,
31     which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples:
32 A light to reveal your will to the Gentiles
    and bring glory to your people Israel.”

The young couple are amazed.  And Simeon blesses them.  And then Luke again breaks from patriarchy, Simeon says to Mary, the woman, the wife, the mother....

“This child is chosen by God for the destruction and the salvation of many in Israel. He will be a sign from God which many people will speak against and so reveal their secret thoughts. And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.”

Mary, this baby which you have born, by the Holy Spirit, rather than by the man next to you (who I am not talking to!) will cause the destruction of the very thing you have come here today for.  He will be spoken against, ridiculed, mocked, and he will break your heart.

You have to assume the Joseph heard this, and that his heart was broken too.

At the presentation of their child at the temple, they are told not good news, not congratulated, as parents, but bad news as parents, you have a child who will break your heart.

We then also have to assume that Simeon gives Mary the baby and that the holy family return to Nazareth.

(A round of applause please for our holy family).

The mother that gives birth to our Saviour has her heart broken.

And that is today’s reading, except that when I described what Simeon said I missed out the good bits– yes they are there, Jesus gives us salvation – as much as Mary had tough times ahead as a mother, and to the point of watching him die on a cross, she was also there at his resurrection.

Friends, Easter is coming!!!

As I was preparing for this talk I was trying to find something reflecting the theme of the world’s greatetst mum.  Sometimes in the most unlikely place you find inspiration.  On a website called I found this card.... (Joseph and Mary) and this one (Creator God).  If Atheists are that concerned that Christianity is a reflection of motherhood (and fatherhood – Joseph is on that card too!) – and I couldn’t find anything reflecting any other faith there, then we as Christians ourselves must be correct in celebrating our mothers today.

Thank you very much for doing the dishes, thank you very much, thank you, thank you very much.


Most loving Father, the example of parenthood, teach us what to give and what to withhold. Show us when to reprove and when to praise. 
Make us gentle and considerate yet firm and watchful.
Keep us from weak indulgence, or from great severity. 
Give us the courage to be disliked sometimes by our children, 
when we must do necessary things which are displeasing to their eyes. 
Give us the imagination to enter into their world 
in order to understand and guide them. 
Give us all the virtues we need to lead them by word and example 
in the path of righteousness. Amen.

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