Mother’s Day arrives in May, at least for mothers in the USA. Mothering Sunday in Britain is already spent, having arrived on the fourth Sunday in Lent.

If you are reading this little article, you were most likely born of a woman and have or have had a mother or mother figure. If you were not born of woman, you might still have a mother, although you may not be a human being. If you are not a human being, you may still continue reading. If you cannot read, ask your mother for help.

Most of us take being here, i.e. being alive, for granted, and so it is. We are all here because someone has given us the gift of life. We were conceived by the efforts of others. We were gestated in the body of a mother who with her own body gave us food and oxygen, protection and shelter. Likewise, with her own body she collected and removed the biological waste associated with our fetal development. Giving of life and removing what could become deathly toxic is a marvelous phenomenon to behold, regardless of the species.

Further, as children we often took or take the lives of our mothers for granted. It is a given. Mothers have seemingly always been there, unless they were not. Whereas all of us have been given birth by a mother, whether surgically assisted or not, not all of us have mothers, and not all of us have cordial relationships with our mothers. Some mothers die giving birth. Some mothers cannot care for their babies and put them up for adoption. Some mothers have their children removed. Some mothers are removed from their children. So many mother-child relationships can become strained and broken because so many events, dynamics, and other matters can interfere, interrupt, inhibit, and even terminate a mother-child relationship. Even if our mothers are not here, i.e. are no longer present for some reason, we are here because of them. No matter what, even if everything in the relationship has gone to hell, we have still been given the gift of life by a mother.

The mother-child relationship is part of the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Scripture relays to us that the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, entered into human flesh and human life the same way as we all do, through a mother. When Jesus was conceived in the Virgin Mary of the Holy Spirit, that conception was a gift. Mary received that gift, and then in her womb she gave the gestating Jesus food and oxygen, protection and shelter. Her body absorbed and carried biological waste away from her fetus so that her son would live to be born. When Jesus was born, he was given by God, his father, and by Mary, his mother, as a gift to the world. In his article “Christ was Born a Jew,” Martin Luther describes this relationship as follows,

“Thus the word, by which God promises that Christ will be the seed of Abraham, requires that Christ be born of a woman and be her natural child. He does not come from the earth like Adam [Gen. 2:7]; neither is he from Adam’s rib like Eve [Gen. 2:21–22]. He comes rather like any woman’s child, from her seed. The earth was not the natural seed for Adam’s body; neither was Adam’s rib the natural seed for Eve’s body. But the virgin’s flesh and blood, from which children come in the case of all other women, was the natural seed of Christ’s body. And she too was of the seed of Abraham” (LW 45:204)

The relationship between God the Father, and Mary, Jesus’ mother, also symbolically reflects our lives in Christ. Jesus is given to us by the Father and his mother, and we take Jesus for granted. The word of God is the womb of Christ in which we are conceived in the faith, gestated in the faith, reborn through baptism in the faith, raised to newness of life in the faith, and fed at the Lord’s Supper in the faith. As Mary carried Jesus, fed him, and protected him with her own body, so too Jesus carries us, feeds us, and protects us by his word having made us through baptism a part of his body. That body was given on the cross to take away the deathly toxicity of the sin of whole world, to save us from all our sin-filled relationships going or gone to hell.

For some, mother’s Day can be a time of delight and thanksgiving. For others, it can be another reminder of strain, conflict, heartache, damage, and loss. For most of us, it is probably a mixture of both in different ways at different times. Although Jesus was born of a woman, like the rest of us, he was not born into sinful flesh, like the rest of us. As John’s gospel portrays, the word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus was born of a woman in order to heal our relationship with God which we human beings through Adam broke by disregarding and disbelieving his word (Galatians 4:4-7). Jesus was given to us sinners so that we could hand him over to a death on the cross, for him to be raised by his Father, in order that he might give us sinners, declared righteous and holy by faith alone, to his Father. Mother’s Day is a given giving.

Regardless of the state or vitality of our relationships with our own mothers, on Mother’s Day we can thank God for those who have granted us life because God has given us his Son who gives us the gift of eternal life already in this life.