Dr. Judith B. Carlson
Gracious God, on this day of celebrating your love, we lift to you those
who have given us life…those who have loved us…and those who have taught us…our Mothers. May your blessings pour out upon the women who gave us birth, and those strong women of faith who have been Mothers to us along our journey. Amen.
Last Sunday we had Jesus’ admonition to ‘wait.’ Today it is Mother’s Day! Who could offer us a better lesson in the art of waiting that Mothers-to-be?! They wait…and they deliver! It is also Pentecost Sunday, the time for delivering the ‘promised reason for waiting,’ which we’ll examine next Sunday.
It seems right to celebrate Mother’s Day today…for there is nothing quite like a Mother’s nurturing comfort! Most of all our focus today is one LOVE, for love is the key ingredient to being a good Mother, just as it is the key ingredient to living a Christian life.
Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Children tend to perceive this differently and to use it as a tool to get us to do what they want. They might say, “If you love me you will let me do this or that” or “If you love me you’ll buy me such and such!” Jesus had a sense of expectation rather than one of manipulation; he says “If you love me…then this is the way that love is shown so that all will know you love me.”
And that is how the woman who is credited with founding Mother’s Day spent her time! Looking at the origin of this special day, Anna Jarvis was inspired by her mother, who in the 1850’s organized ‘Mother’s Work Day Clubs’ in the area of Grafton, West Virginia. They provided medicines for the poor, inspected milk for children, provided nursing care for the sick, and ran shelters for those with tuberculosis. At the outbreak of the Civil War she called together her clubs & asked them to make a pledge of friendship & good will. Throughout the war the women nursed soldiers from both sides & saved many lives. She became a genuine peacemaker, bringing families together who had been torn apart. The first ‘Mother’s Day’ was organized in 1907. She campaigned for years to make it an American National event.
She succeeded and in 1915 President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the 2nd Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Julia Ward Howe, the author of the Battle Hymn of the Republic & a fierce abolitionist, was another big promoter of the idea of Mother’s Day, as she was of obtaining voting rights for women & advocating world peace. So the central concerns of those who established Mother’s Day were civil liberties, international peace, overcoming poverty & ministering for the sick & the poor. Since its beginning, this day has been one for not only remembering our own Mothers, but a day to express the deepest form of love possible.
Biblically speaking, perhaps the story of Sarah, the ‘holy woman of old’ is one of significance for us today. Sarah is among God’s ‘Who’s Who of Faith.’ She was Abraham’s wife & God had promised that she would be the mother of nations. As we know, however, Sarah endured years of barrenness. Becoming impatient, she went to extreme measures to obtain a child by arranging for a surrogate mother with her husband. Her admiration for Hagar turned into explosive envy, a dilemma that affected her faith & drove her back to God, fostering a strong relationship & providing proof that God is trustworthy. Like Sarah, we all have areas in our lives that do not meet our expectations or cause us to envy what others have. She reminds us that although others will fail us, God will not. We are challenged to admire God!
Parenting in today’s society is a rigorous challenge. Both parents frequently must work in order to support their families. We also acknowledge single parents and blended families and realize the complexities. The home is such an influence in a child’s formative years, determining how he or she will live life in the future. If home is a place of unconditional love and grace, then those privileged children will generally perpetuate that.
In Proverbs 31:10-31 we note the ‘Description of a Wife of Noble Character.’ As a wife and as a Mother, her responsibilities are endless…and she is deserving of admiration and reward. (Read Proverbs 31:10-31)
MOTHERS have provided some significant lessons for us. In the best sense, they Create an Environment of Love. God also shows his continued love through the power & presence of the Holy Spirit. We are called to live that love & to mirror it for others to see…because love builds self-esteem & self worth. Love helps keep lives centered and focused. Love helps us live in selfless ways.
MOTHERS also Create an Environment of Grace. They establish a home life. That is not judgmental, a home where children are given the opportunity to test ideas and attitudes without recrimination or guilt. It is a home life that allows for mistakes, and one that offers forgiveness when mistakes are made.
MOTHERS also Create an Environment of Faith. They guide their children in attending Sunday school & worship; ideally they do it together!An environment of faith implies being actively involved.
Finally, MOTHERS Create an Environment of Security. Our children live in a fragile society today where most things are constantly changing. The only thing that is predictable is that ‘things change!’ The changes our children experience today are different from the changes we experienced, growing up.
One of the best gifts we can offer children is the same gift God gives us…the security of love, and the stability of secure family connections. We offer them securing by letting them know that no matter what happens, no matter how much they mess us…we still love them. Jesus says we must show love just as he shows his love for us. The point is that we love.
Sometimes our love and concern is misunderstood by children. Let me share with you a cute story:
A mother was sending her son off to kindergarten; he was walking but did not want her to walk with him. She wanted to support his independence, but also to assure his safety! She had an idea.
She asked a neighbor to follow her son to school in the mornings, staying at a distance so that he would not likely notice her. The neighbor agreed & the next morning she took her toddler son and set out following behind Timmy as he walked to school with another neighbor girl he knew. She did this for a full week.
As you would suspect, Timmy’s friend noticed that the same lady was following them, as she had done all week. She said to Timmy ‘Have you noticed that lady following us to school every day? Do you know her? Timmy replied, ‘Yeah, I know who she is.’ ‘That’s Shirley Goodnest & her daughter Marcy’.’
His friend asked, ‘Who the heck is she & why is she following us?’ ‘Well, Timmy explained, every night my Mother makes me say the 23rd Psalm with my prayers, cuz she worries about me so much. In that Psalm it says “Shirley Goodnest & Marcy shall follow me all the days of my life” so I guess I just have to get used to it!!’
May the Lord bless and keep all Mothers; may He make his face to shine upon you & be gracious to you. May he lift His countenance upon you & give you peace. May YOU be comforted and Mothered. Though you have spent your life taking care of others, may you also take care of yourself. May you be pampered by small indulgences, and may you know the quiet & soothing grace of simplicity.
We bless our Mothers this day, no matter what they have done or left undone. We do this because we believe in God’s love. For some of us our Mothers are but a cherished memory now; others are blessed with the opportunity to share good times, concerns & conversations. We honor our Mothers & we praise you, O God, for your gift of Motherly love. We are grateful for the loving hands that have worked so hard in raising us, cared enough to guide & encourage us, and to bless us in ways we could not have fully known as children.
Mothers of the world…you may be someone who has given birth, or you may have assumed the role of Mother…but you are God’s love in expression.
No matter your age, where you are, or who the children are who need you, you are there to reassure, to listen, and to love. Of all the roles you fill in life, Motherhood is a constant and rewarding one. God bless you! You are loved and honored for what you have done and continue to do in life as you nurture, love and care for all the children of God. This is the word of God for this day!
Loving God…Today we proclaim the love so freely and unselfishly given by Mothers. We thank them for their patience with the needs of others, the source of security they offer to their families. We thank them for their creativity, their calmness, their willingness to listen, to respect, and to understand. We honor our Mothers for the inspiration of their dreams, the spirit of their souls and the emotion of their hearts. May they know that they are living Your Love, Dear God, as they nurture, encourage and support all children of God. Amen
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Let us rejoice and be glad for her today!
All ye who love her, rejoice greatly with her.
Heavenly Father, We call forth your compassion upon every Mother.
We lift to you our Mothers, for we know that you love every Mother.
Where we have seen your face in any woman who has been to us a Mother,
in her face we have seen your light & your love, and we give thanks.
Where they have loved, they have kept your word, and blessed us.
We lift to you the heart of every Mother, and we lift to you the prayer of every Mother. We also lift to you our Mother Earth. Help each of us to be your blessing of love. Amen.
Loving God, may we take time to know the privilege of honoring our Mothers this day, and remembering how they have inspired us.
Let your people go forth in peace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.