A Mother’s prayer
Exodus 1.15 - 2.4
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 ‘When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live.’ 17 But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. 18 So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and allowed the boys to live?’ 19 The midwives said to Pharaoh, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ 20 So God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and became very strong. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families. 22 Then Pharaoh commanded all his people, ‘Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live.’
(2) 1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. 3 When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4 His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The background to the birth of Moses is a time of persecution for Israel in Egypt, the Kings having forgotten about Joseph. Imagine hiding your baby from your enemies … and having got it safely to a few months old having to part with it … casting it down the river in the sanctuary of a basket – an ark – to an unknown future.
Born a free Roman citizen, to a pagan father and a Christian mother, Augustine was brought up within the church but as a teenager he lost his faith; his mother though never stopped praying for him. Augustine studied rhetoric and philosophy and aged 18 read Cicero’s Hortensius which had the effect of turning him back to God. His mother was delighted!
And in speaking of God delivering his soul out of his longings and worries, he writes of his mother who’d had a vision of him lost…
“And Thou sentest thine hand from above, and drewest my soul out of the profound darkness, my mother, Thy faithful one, weeping to Thee for me, more than mothers weep the bodily deaths of their children. For she, by that faith and spirit which she had from Thee, discerned the death, wherein I lay, and Thou heardest her, and despisedst not her tears, when streaming down, they watered the ground under her eyes in every place where she prayed, yea Thou heardest her.”
The love of a mother weeping for her child…
How many mothers weep for their children?
In Egypt in the time of Moses,
In Tagaste in the time of Augustine
Today, In Mosul, in Syria,
Or mothers who have fled such as these and find themselves in makeshift homes and villages among other tented refugees in Greece or Jordan?
How many mothers will give birth in exile today… and shed tears as they pray for their children, their safety, their hopes and their future?
God of beginnings,
God of endings,
God of all life in between,
Hear the cries of mothers for their children,
And may they be answered…
May they – mother and child know peace,
And a home and a living,
And may those who live and are born in exile today know that they are not exiled from you,
That even although it may seem that this world loves them little,
That they have a place in your heart and are never far from your presence.