St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church


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Strength & Grace (from Fr. Mark)

Posted by The Rev. Mark McKone-Sweet on with 4 Comments

Journal entry from a son sitting at his mother’s bedside …

Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Ex 14:14)

My mother has always been strong. She was strong to survive Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941, and the long voyages on the seas, wherever her father served. She was strong pursuing her master’s degree while running a preschool, raising us boys and running the house. I could write a small book about how mom inspired me to be strong countless times. Her strength taught me to never give up and to pursue your dreams even if the odds or the system is against you. She has taught me once again about strength and, may I add, grace today.

My mother gave her life to the health, formation, and growth of every child under her supervision and care. Over those 50+ years as an early childhood leader, teacher, professor and advisor to public schools, let us assume it was thousands of children, her sheep, she knew each by name and they knew her voice.

Mom taught me to give my life to God, to put others first. Serving a person for the glory of God and for no other reason. She reminded me daily to tend my own family, my flock. For decades, I have heard God tell me: “Mark, feed and tend my sheep.”

As I prayed with her today, my clergy friends and extended family of friends encouraged me to let go. To let go of my parish flock and my passion to encourage us to spread the Good News in real and tangible ways to everyone with urgency. To let go of my passion to plan for the summer and fall, to be a voice of hope and offer passion to fight onward. To let go of trying to be the perfect dad, brother, and son today, tomorrow. I could hear my counsel to families at a time similar to mine - just be present. Let God do the work. Then I read Exodus 14:14. Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Mom’s profound ability “to be still” and let “the Lord fight” for her is inspiring. She has not complained. She has let each son and visitor be their true selves. She radiates with joy at the voices, smiles, and tears of grandchildren. She knows in her heart how this will all unfold - and she keeps teaching us … to “be not afraid.”

I will try-on this spiritual and loving way of being “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

I wonder:

Who taught or teaches you to be strong enough to turn the fight over to God and be still?

Who inspires you to be selfless, at your most vulnerable state, to teach and love others with grace and humility?

Who inspires you to not fear death? And give that gift to the tears flowing at your bedside?

Short answers: Mom. Jesus. My family. And the countless number families I have had the privilege to serve as someone they love transitions from this life to eternal life with Christ. To be honest, I know their names. And I know God’s love for each and every one of them. Maybe the fruit does not fall too far from the tree.

Tomorrow will be a new day. And I’ll have more lessons from my mother and God - lessons about strength and God’s Grace born from the heart.


Carol Crafts May 3, 2018 5:10pm

"Turn it over to God and sleep well. She needs you rested. God is awake anyway!"

Karen C May 3, 2018 6:05pm

Beautifully written. I'm glad you are there with your Mom.

Bill Zettinger May 3, 2018 9:18pm

Mark. Stay there with your mother and family. You are in our prayers as Nina and I having lost our parents understand how important this time is for you. May God’s peace and grace we with you in this difficult time

Patricia H. Laybourn May 4, 2018 2:57pm

You will never regret being with your mom at this time. We love you. Pat and Gretchen