Scripture Reading Matthew 12: 46 -50
46While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
You didn’t find me at home, did you? I should have let you know that I was not going to be home this morning. Actually, it is just seven-fifteen in the morning, and I am in Rindge, New Hampshire. Dale had to be present at her new position here in Rindge for today is the day when the new students arrive at the campus of Franklin Pierce University. Dale happily has just joined the faculty there. It was hoped that many of the professors would be present to welcome students back to the university and to help them move into their rooms. Dale wanted to be supportive of the students and of the faculty so here we are in Rindge. That is Dale; she always gives her best to everything she does. I told her that Molly and I would join her this morning so Molly and I are now waiting for her to complete her responsibilities.
It is a beautiful morning. The ride here was spectacular. I am still getting used to being in a place of mountains and hills, and today, they are just beautiful. In places, the hills were covered with a mist. In some places, the leaves are just beginning to turn color. The road as we drove here went past lakes, ponds, and rivers. Again, the mist or fog was moving across the waters. It could make you think of the Creation of the Earth. My, but God has given us such an awe-inspiring world. Too often in our lives we do not stop and realize that fact.
So many times I think how blessed I have been in this life. Certainly, there have been many times of illness and sorrow, yet if I stop and think of all my blessings, those sorrows recede into the distance.
I was so fortunate to be born into my parent’s growing family. I was the fifth child born to Milton and Etta Boyle. My parents had a deep respect and love for each other. When speaking to my brother Milt this week, we talked about how they built respect for them among their children. My dad always praised and protected my mother, and my mother always praised and respected my father. We grew to believe that both of them were to be obeyed and loved – we wanted so to please them.
My mom was the best person to work for, and I loved helping her. Her words were so often words those of praise and encouragement. Whenever you helped my mom, she was so happy, and she would tell you over and over in days to come how much she appreciated what you had done. One day I replaced and painted an alcove ceiling at the farm. It had been patched and did not resemble the best of work. So I dry walled, plastered, and painted that ceiling. For years, I heard how happy it had made my mother.
My mother was a stickler for education. I think of her here on this campus as I wait for Dale to return from her duties.
My mother lost her father when she was nine years old. They lived on a street that looked up to the campus of Tufts University. When she was a little girl, her dad had told her she was going to that college. Those plans changed for her when her father passed away for the family fell from prosperity to poverty. My mother left school in the eighth grade to take care of the home as her mother and older sisters and brother joined the work force to support the family. Out of that background, my mother gave you no choice – you were going to be educated. If it had not been for my mother’s insistence, I would never have attended college. My life would be lacking my love of poetry and history; even my life profession as a pastor would not have come to be.
When I think back to my graduation from Tufts, I feel some regret inside my heart. My mother and I had fought over who was going to attend my graduation, and my mother had insisted on who would be present. I was not happy my girl friend was not going to be there. How I regret those unhappy words with my mom. She had struggled with my dad to educate me; she had encouraged me and loved me with a special love. I shared so many mornings talking with her before I left for college because I commuted. She helped me with my problems, and I was there to share hers. My sister was ill then, and my mother was so worried and concerned. She shed a lot of tears on those mornings before I left to pursue my studies.
Looking back, I think now of what it must have meant to her to have me graduate from the college her dad had told her she would one day attend. She must have had her heart filled with happiness that the father she idolized had a grandson graduate from Tufts. She might have only had an eighth grade schooling, but her son Kenneth had graduated from that special college held only in her dreams.
Oh, and my mother was very wise and smart too. When I was reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, my mother asked me what I was reading. She asked if she could borrow my book and read it. Now this son she had educated thought that it would be difficult reading for my mother with her lack of education. What an intellectual snob – my mother read the book and loved it! She was an avid reader, and I had not considered just how bright she was. If God grants me the gift of heaven, I have no doubt my mother will greet me as she often greeted me. It will be with a hug, and she will say, “Kenny, I love you so.” I believe I will hear those words again.
Now I must be careful here, but we are taught that Jesus was both human and divine. I wonder if He had regrets about his treatment of His mom. His mother tried to stop Him from preaching for the rumor was her son was out of His mind. She heard others speaking angry words about his teachings and was afraid for her son. And how does Jesus respond? Jesus says, “Who are my mother and brothers but those who do the will of God?” When He begins His ministry, He calls His mother “ Woman” not mom or mother. On the cross, he says, “ Woman, behold your son.” and then says to John, “ Behold your mother.” I believe that Mary was a temptation away from His calling from God, and so HE HAD TO SEPARATE Himself from her. In the last sentence, those capitalized words were by accident; I chose not to change them for perhaps my heart told my fingers what to say. He had to follow God’s plan, but I am sure He had to hold his feelings inside as He saw his mother on the way to Golgotha, as He saw her standing near his cross. His heart must have melted when He saw her tears and her despair when she saw her son in pain. In His humanity on His road of ministry, did He fail to see His mother’s love and pain?
How I love to picture His resurrection and visit to the upper room. What did He think when He saw His mother there? She was a believer – she knew now why her son had remained steadfast in his calling to God even when He had called her “woman.” As I regret not being sensitive to my mother at my graduation from college and at other times, did Jesus have some of those regrets too? Was God’s forgiveness for our insensitivities not there for our Jesus too?
And you who walk with me – do you have memories that you wish you could change like I wish I could? Jesus teaches us in our human weakness that when we have regrets for actions we took in the past (especially to those who loved us) that there is forgiveness. In His humanity, He knows and forgives the regrets we feel.
Dear God, we are so thankful for the wonderful life of Jesus. Help us to overcome our past errors and thoughtlessness through His gift of forgiveness. And if, O Lord, we have hurt someone in this present day, help us to seek redemption and to act in a more thoughtful way. Amen.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other.”