The first girl that I ever had a crush on was named Debbie. We were both only six at the time. Debbie or Deborah is a fascinating name. Deborah is actually a Hebrew word that means ‘bee’. You may remember the boxer Cassius Clay/AKA Mohammad Ali saying: “I float like a butterfly. I sting like a bee.” The original Deborah was aptly named as she stung like a bee to those who threatened her children. Who were her children? Deborah did not just stand up for her own nuclear family; she stood up for the whole community, for all God’s children. That is why Deborah received the title “Mother of Israel”.
This Mother’s Day, I know that there are many Deborahs, many ‘Mothers of Israel’ reading this article, many women who will stand up to protect the lives and health of all the children in our local community. One Deep Cove Deborah is Janet Pavlik, who deeply cares for our local community and has invested heavily in serving others, especially through her support for the Deep Cove Historical Society, the Lions Club, the Deep Cove Crier, and the Deep Cove Theatre. In the past twenty-two years serving the Seymour/Deep Cove community, I have met hundreds of local Deborahs, many of them relatively unknown who selflessly dedicate their lives to serving their family and their community. This Mother’s Day I want to say ‘thank you’ to each of the Deborahs reading this article. You are appreciated and deeply valued for the sacrifices that you have made so that our local community can be more healthy and safe. Without mothers creating healthy homes, chaos prevails on the streets.
My wife, my sisters, my mother and my grandmothers have all been ‘Deborahs’ in my life. Their long-suffering devotion to family in good times and bad continues to inspire me to be a better person. Just the other day I received an e-mail from one of my ‘Deborahs’ reminding me that it was time to go to my GP for my regular checkup.
Deborahs fight for the significant men in their lives, for their sons, their husbands, their brothers, their fathers. They want them to win. They want them to thrive. They want them to fully live. Deborahs care deeply and can’t stop caring if they tried.
The first Deborah was a very powerful, courageous woman in fearful times. She used to sit under a palm tree and serve as the Judge for all of Israel, deciding the difficult cases that couldn’t be solved otherwise. She was also a prophet, who had unusual discernment about what to do in impossible times. Deborah had an unusually close relationship to God, and had really learned to listen for that still small voice. Judges Chapter 5 describes a song that she received which inspired her whole nation to action.
For over twenty years, the Children of Israel had been trodden down by Sisera, the Canaanite Army Commander with over nine hundred iron chariots, the top military technology of those days. It had become so bad that local town life had been decimated and no one could safely travel by road. Deborah knew that this had to stop. So she approached Barak, asking him to bring 10,000 men and confront this injustice. Barak, who lacked the military hardware, answered with profound ambivalence, saying: “If you go with me, I will go. If you don’t go with me, I won’t go.” Because of Barak’s timidity, Deborah had to prod him until he finally took action. An unexpected downpour occurred, which landed the Canaanite iron chariots deep in the mud. After this great victory, Deborah led the Children of Israel through a time of peace for forty years.
The Song of Deborah says: 'Wake up, wake up, Deborah! Wake up, wake up, break out in song!’ This Mother’s Day, my heart-felt prayer would be ‘Wake up, Wake up Deborah! Come into your destiny and calling. Don’t let the fear or ambivalence of others hold you back. Fight for both your family and your community. Stand up for what you know is right and just and fair. Show compassion to the widow and the orphan. Be a Mother of Israel in your local community.’
The Rev. Ed Hird+
Rector, St. Simon’s North Vancouver
Anglican Coalition in Canada