Pohutukawa Coast Presbyterian Church
Clevedon Presbyterian Church
Kawakawa Bay
Clevedon Kidz

Rebecca's Nurse

May 9, 2021
Mark Chapman

Rebecca’s Nurse

Mother’s Day May 9 2021


May the Words of my mouth and thoughts of our hearts, be acceptable in your sight,

O Lord, our strength and our redeemer. Amen


Gen 35:8  Rebecca's nurse Deborah died and was buried beneath the oak south of

Bethel. So it was named "Oak of Weeping." 


There is something very poignant in this verse.

It’s surrounded by mayhem

and treachery.

People doing bad things to each other


scheming, all the family battles that go on.


Rebecca is the wife of Jacob.  His favourite wife

his beloved wife

and yet we hear nothing of her mother

the mother is never on the scene

just her father Laban and her sister Leah.


And all sorts of family disputes and

whatever goes on

and then out of the blue not too long before Rebecca herself dies in childbirth, we


“Rebecca's nurse Deborah died and was buried beneath the oak south of Bethel. So it

was named "Oak of Weeping." “


And I guess the intriguing thing for me is that in the annals of Israel

in their history

a scared history defining their purpose in this world,

defining their relationship with God,

we read: Rebecca's nurse Deborah died and was buried beneath the oak south of

Bethel. So it was named "Oak of Weeping." 


We don’t know her name.

We don’t know her age

we no nothing other than

she was Rebecca’s nurse.

Not her sister Leah’s nurse as well – just Rebecca’s nurse.

I find it intriguing!

Did Rebecca’s mother die young?

We don’t know,

and yet for this matriarch of Israel

this woman this nurse was a mother and more.

Maybe by implication she had fed her

has nursed Rebecca as a baby

and that relationship had carried on.

Certainly she was obviously a leading figure in Rebecca’s life

so much so that

when she died

Rebecca would have been terribly distraught

and Jacob along with her

and she is buried, I wonder if there is some significance, under

an oak a symbol of majesty and strength

and the oak is named, The Oak of Weeping.


Certainly Rebecca was blessed by her presence

this obviously stable woman

who long after Rebecca had need for a nurse

remained with her and for her.

Such a figure that she is recorded forever in history.

Not as a warrior

or anything other that in our world we might consider

important but as a woman who cared and loved

and when she died

the whole tribe mourned her.


So mothers.

We have had one

we are one

we may have given birth to one.


That I hope includes all of us.

I remember as a child in Canada camping

and across the small lake was a mother bear and two cubs.

The mother obviously was aware we were waking up

and it began to chase her cubs up the hill

to keep them safe.

The cubs were oblivious to any danger and they would get to the top of the hill

and tumble down.

The mother would chase them back up with cuffs around the head.


We once witnessed a number of bears in a garbage dump.

Up a tree were two cubs

and at the base of the tree, you guessed it

the mother

warning off any male bear that came near to the tree.


The message being: Don’t mess with me, I’m a mother and I know my role.


The daddy bears – well goodness knows where they were

off doing the male thing

whatever male bears  do. Probably eating!


And you’ve probably heard similar stories.

Don’t come between a cow and its calf.

The cow will trample you.

Where is the daddy cow?


And mothers,

generally you have been the ones

who have put up so much

and have ministered to your children

or you’ve been ministered to by a mother.


I’m talking generally – some mothers

for whatever reason

weren’t able.

But I know when it was cold at night as a child

the arms, the hands, that came and tucked me in

were my mother’s hands.

The parent that found the extra blanket was my mother.

And when I had a bad dream

it was my mother’s side of the bed I would climb into.

Not my fathers.

Interesting isn’t it?


I guess that’s probably why when the Bible writers want to express the caring intimate

nature of God

they use mother images.


Hosea portrays God as

a mother, teaching her child to walk

feeding her child

drawing her child to her with love and affection.


The agony that God goes through in creating a people is written in terms of a mother

giving birth.

And when Jesus weeps over the lostness of Jerusalem

just before he is killed

he pictures himself as a mother hen

gathering her chicks close to her

sheltering them under her wings

to keep them safe.


Meanwhile the rooster would be strutting around doing what roosters do.

It’s the hen, the mother bear, the cow, that protects and nourishes

and keeps safe.


We had a litter of kittens and the children had one out on the carpet playing with it.

Enter momma cat and she leapt in amongst our children and grabbed her tiny kitten  

and with a graceful leap carried it by the scruff of its neck into its box and safety.


And I remember thinking: God is like that mother cat.

By the mother’s grace and love the kitten was kept safe.


On mother’s day I’m reminded too that

Jesus mission as he travelled about with the ‘boys’

was financed by some wealthy and some not so wealthy women

who travelled with them.


In 40 years of ministry if I’ve Iearned one thing other than Grace

it is that women are generally closer to the heart of God than men.

They intuitively know and feel the power and need for love and mercy and forgiveness.


I think too, that it’s probably why God chose women to be the first witnesses to the

resurrection of Jesus and to be the first proclaimers of the gospel – to the men.


So mothers and women – today we honour you.


You probably taught most of us to pray;

you lead us to the Father’s Heart

and in your love

demonstrated the feminine nature of God.


Without your persistence I doubt there would be a church.


From the beginning you were leaders.

You were and are the grace notes in the church

that brought us the joy and the love of God.

Like Rebecca’s nurse, you made a difference

and so we honour you today.

Thank you and may God richly bless you

for your faithfulness and love down the centuries.


I for one, would not have known the heart of God

but for a women. My mother.


Happy Mothers Day


Now unto God the Father, God the Son and God, the holy Spirit, be all the honour and

glory, world without end. Amen

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