If My People Pray
A Confident Life

Deborah, Mother of Israel

Happy Mother’s Day

Photo by Sidney Pearce on Unsplash

I recorded a 25 minute sermon from the notes below, but … somehow, there was no sound.

It was silent.

I replaced it with a shorter version.

Here is the text of the sermon I first recorded — Rough Notes.

Mother’s Day, not Mothers’ Day is an American tradition started by a daughter, Anna Marie Jarvis, who felt one day needed to be set aside for children to honor their own mothers.

Paul reminds us that we are part of a larger family as well and that the call to honor is even broader.

“[Treat] the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.” -1 Timothy 5:2

Just who is your mother?

Timothy had his own mother and grandmother, but as a pastor, he was to set an example to all the church to treat all the elder women as mothers. They were to be respected, honored, and treated with care and affection.

Who is your mother? Who do you honor on Mother’s Day?

First, it would be the woman who gave you birth. While giving birth to a baby may not make you a mother in every sense, it is a pretty amazing contribution to life. She carried you for nine months, twenty four hours a day. Every bit of nutrition and all of your protection came from her.

She gave a big chunk of her life to give you all of your life.

Then, it is the woman or the women who raised you or helped to raise you — natural mothers, foster mothers, big sisters, aunts, babysitters, teachers, Sunday School teachers and, in some cases, your friends’ mothers or your neighbors. It may have been grandmothers.

We honor them today.

We honor the mothers we had.

We honor the mothers we wished we had as well, those perfect mothers that we dreamed about. We honor the ideal that no one ever realizes because everyone is human and imperfect.

That ideal is found only in God whose Fatherliness also includes the qualities of motherhood that can be reflected in our earthly mothers.

We honor the mothers (and fathers) we want to be. We honor the aspiration and the ideal and hold it high.

We honor the mothers of the future that we are training our girls to be.

We honor motherhood and all of the women of the church who have been, might have been, never were, or will be mothers — especially the older ones. The younger, we honor as sisters and mothers-to-be.

Happy Mother’s Day!

When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” — John 19:26–27

Jesus was living through the darkest moment of His life. Lesser men would have thought only of their pain. One of the men being crucified with Him could only curse and fix blame on others. Jesus could only love for love had taken Him to that cross.

He looked down from Him place of suffering and saw His mother. He remembered how she had exercised faith in welcoming the Holy Spirit’s work in her life as she had conceived Him. He remembered how she had traveled so many miles with Joseph to Bethlehem for His birth and how they had fled to Egypt, far away from home and family, to protect His life from Herod. He remembered how she and Joseph had despaired when they misplaced Him in the Temple when He was a boy. He remembered her sacrificial love and the warm home she had made for Him and His brothers. He reflected on her grace and humble service. She had cherished the memories of His birth and life in her heart all these years. She had raised her children, taught them the things of God. She had buried a husband and she had left all to follow Her son, the Son of God as one of His disciples.

She was His mother and He loved her from the cross. And so, in one of His last earthly human deeds, He presided over an adoption,

“Behold your thy son … Behold thy mother.” — Jesus from the cross
“… despise not thy mother when she is old.” -Proverbs 23:22b

Your Mother When She Is Old

We need as many “old mothers” as we can get in the church and in our lives. We need to honor the older mothers among us and change our thinking about the word, “old.”

For some reason, we have attached a stigma to old age such that people do not like to be called, “old.” Yet, in the scriptures, it is a badge of honor and a sign of God’s blessing.

Perhaps some thought ought to be given to reviving the old custom of honoring the eldest mother in the church on Mother’s Day. In the New testament, older women were all considered mothers of the church. That had something to give and the church was tuned to receive it.

One can think of three reasons why we might learn from and honor the eldest among us and they spell O-L-D.

O — Older mothers have gotten OVER some things.

There is no substitute for experience. The most important and valuable advantage of experience is that it teaches us that wherever we are in our journey, we are stuck. We might be going through some difficulties, but we can and will get through them. We might be laboring under some burdens, but we can and will get over them. We can know this because our elders could and did get over theirs.

L — Older mothers have LEARNED some things.

Life has taught them some lessons and most are willing to share those lessons. We all know more today than we did yesterday. The longer we go, the more we potentially learn. We can honor our mothers by listening to their perspectives. They know some things we do not know because they have had time to learn them.

D — Older mothers have DONE some things.

They have had time to accomplish some goals, to have a few failures, and to enjoy some victories. When we look at their lives, we take courage in knowing that we can also accomplish some things. In fact, they sometimes did what seemed impossible, but with God’s help, they did them anyway. We need them as role models.

These are three reasons to honor our older mothers and to strive to someday be old mothers and old fathers.

“Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children; now I have six children, and no theories.” ~John Wilmot

Any parent, worth his or her salt, will readily admit to ignorance on any number of subjects — especially parenting. It can be frightening when we consider the consequence for our children and the perpetual admonition to them to pay attention to us. We step back from overhearing them being told to do so and remember how many parental lessons we missed, ignored, or discarded along the way. How much easier would life have been if we had been mentally and emotionally present in the parental school of wisdom?

Homer doesn’t make things easier when he remarks, “It behooves a father to be blameless if he expects his child to be.”

Perfection eludes us and the quest for perfection haunts, us, but grace equips us to take the risks involved in doing our best and letting go of the rest. We are hard put to find all the right words or address all the important issues in parenting. Robert Fulghum landed squarely on the truth when he said:

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”

Our children are always watching. It is up to them whether or not they will listen. That is their responsibility and capacity, especially as they grow old. It is also ours, who have grown older, not to forsake the wisdom of the past as no longer relevant. Solomon wisely said:

“Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck. “ -Proverbs 1:8–9 NIV

He then enters into an extended teaching about the dangers or rejecting that teaching and pursuing a life of riotous activity without regard to ethics and morality. The bottom line is that you are more attractive, effective, and fulfilled if you take the time to learn what is being taught. And our children have a better shot at life if we take the time to teach them. Furthermore, we have a better chance of teaching them well if we revisit what we have been taught and take it to heart.

As a rock song from the 60s put it, “and the beat goes on.”

A Joyful Mother!

“He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.” — Psalm 113:9

On Mother’s Day, we are first grateful for our mothers, but deep within the heart of every mother for whom we show our love and appreciation is an even deeper gratitude. She is grateful to be a mother. She is blessed and joyful for what she considers to be the greatest gift and privilege of her life. Mothers cherish their children. So do fathers, but mothers do so with a special kind of flair. 
Your mother knows that you are a gift from God. Your life is something that emerged out of barrenness and you are very special. Your life has brought her joy. She sees the light of God’s love and grace in your eyes. She praises the Lord for you and you praise the Lord for her.

She taught you about love. She taught you life skills. She taught you to be responsible. She taught you the difference between right and wrong. She taught you that a person needs something to do and that there is no value in just sitting around and doing nothing. he taught you that there are consequences to bad behavior and rewards for good behavior. She taught you to love and reverence God and most likely taught you your first prayers.

She taught you so much and she taught it all to you because she loves you and because she knew that you were God’s gift to her. She did it with joy. Now take that same joy and show her your appreciation.

And today, we praise the Lord for her.

We love her because she first loved us. In fact, we most likely first learned the love of God from her and we love God because He took the initiative to love us fist. In that way, mothers point us to the Father.

We appreciate our mothers because they first appreciated us. We brought no special skills to our families when we arrived. We could not do our fair share or pull our weight, but our parents thanked God for us. That is amazing!

Our mothers valued us, affirmed us, and let us know that we were special. They prayed for us and taught us to pray. They managed our homes and let us watch and learn. They taught us how to perform basic skills, how to resolve conflict, and how to care for our own personal needs.

Best of all they were present for us and we are present for them today as well.

Mothers of the Church

“… the elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.”– I Timothy 5:2

Our brother Paul alludes to a tender and respectful relationship that Timothy and his brothers can easily understand. It is the relationship between a son and his mother or his sister. It is a relationship of affection and honor. It is the picture of the relationship that ought to exist in the church between the body and the precious women we call mother and sister.

On this Mother’s Day, let us pause to honor all of those who have been the mothers of the church whether or not they have biological children. They, whether right or wrong, have set our tables, cleaned our dishes, tended our babies in the nursery, and given us hugs and encouragement in times of sorrow, grief, or discouragement.

They have sent out the cards on special occasions, made the phone calls to the sick and absent. More often than not, they have taken the lead in matters of prayer and communication. They have kept us aware of our missionaries and have challenged us to be more mission minded.

They have taken far more seats in the choir than our men, been far more faithful in church attendance, and have brought pies and soups to the elderly and infirmed. And one might be reminded that the early disciples actually gave that job to six men.

It has been nineteen hundred years since men actually did as much as the mothers of the church for widows and orphans. These women have taught us in Sunday School and may have been the first to tell us about Jesus. They have organized our files, decorated our sanctuaries, arranged our flowers, cleaned our bathrooms, and made most of our visits. They deserve the title of mother and they deserve great honor this day.

Besides everything else, the mothers and sisters of our church have brought a sense of beauty and warmth into our presence. They have reflected the love of God into our lives in a unique way. Here’s to you, Mother. Here’s to you sister. We love you very much. Happy Mother’s Day!

God Is a Family

“At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. “-John 14:20

Family is a vital connection to what it means to be connected with God. God expresses the divine mystery of God’s very essence in terms of family.

The Father, the Son, and the Spirit exist as one, but three, all sharing the same nature, but also relating to each other in community and in love. God is in fellowship with God and God invites human beings to join the family.

Some of God’s qualities are mothering; some are fathering. Some of what the Spirit does in the world is what mothers do in families. The only point is this; it is not about gender or roles; it is about fellowship, love, relationship, bonding, loyalty, and joy.

God wants our company and God chooses human families to point us toward the reality of eternal and heavenly relationships.

Jesus says that his disciples are his mothers and brothers and sisters.

It is so appropriate to recognize and honor these earthly relationships on days such as Mother’s Day.

Mothers are responsible, in Judaism, for the perpetuation of the faith in the early stages of every child’s life. In fact, the primary definition of a Jew is a person with a Jewish mother.

Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, were cited by Paul as his earliest and most primary faith influences. The faith first dwelt in them and then, in him.

We are taught to regard the women in our congregations with the respect and love that we would afford our mothers and sisters.

The role of motherhood is profound in the scriptures. The writer of the last portion of Proverbs, King Lemuel, credits his mother with the wise teachings that have guided his life.

We thank God for our mothers today. Not only do they give us life and guidance, but they also help us understand the Holy Trinity as a family of God where we are invited to the table.

Calling Her Blessed

“Her children arise up, and call her blessed …” — Proverbs 31:28

King Lemuel had an amazing mom. She was like a super woman, great household manager, loving mother, loyal wife, sharp business person, and woman of righteous integrity. She was the ideal wife and mother.

To her children, she was Mom. MOM — Model for living, Organizer of our lives, and Magnifier of the truth.

She was all of those things. She provided a model for how to live. She brought order, organization, and direction to the household. She exemplified, magnified, and taught what it meant to live a godly life in this world.

Her children called her blessed.

Mary, when learning that she would become the mother of the Messiah proclaimed that all generations would call her blessed. In fact, the angel told her that she was blessed among women.

Mothers are a blessing to us, but the bible says that motherhood, in itself, is a blessing.

Today, we honor mothers for their motherhood. We rise with Lemuel and his siblings to call our mothers, “blessed” and to bless them for their gifts to us. It is trite but true to say that without them we would not be here and would not have become the people that we are today.

“God, give us Christian homes! 
Homes where the mother, in queenly quest,
Strives to show others Thy way is best, 
Homes where the Lord is an honored guest.
God, give us Christian homes; 
God, give us Christian homes!”
- B.B. McKinney

God bless our mothers!

The Love of God

“The inhabitants of the villages ceased, they ceased in Israel, until that I Deborah arose, that I arose a mother in Israel.” — Judges 5"7

Deborah was no stereotypical mother. But a mother, she was.

She was a leader in Israel. She was a wife. She was as tough as nails and yet, sensitive to the things of God. Her prayer and song of praise tell her story and God’s story.

God raised her up for His purposes and used her mightily. She did what Barak would not do and received honor that he might have received.

She was a woman of courage, a woman of faith, a woman of praise, and a woman of wisdom — a lot like many of our mothers.

We need mothers with courage today because times are hard and the attacks on our families are profound. Sometimes, it is only the mother who will stand up for her families. Some fathers have defaulted in their responsibility. All fathers need her by their sides.

We need mothers of faith today because our children need to learn it. What better place to be introduced to faith than at a mother’s knee?

We need mothers of praise today who fill our homes with songs of praise, objects of praise, and occasions to praise the Lord. We need mothers who will turn off the televisions and radios and turn on the gospel.

We need mothers of wisdom today who will take the time to teach their children. Parents are the best wisdom teachers that God made. That is why we are told throughout the book of Proverbs to listen to them so carefully.

Buried in the sometimes dark stories of Judges is an example of a mother who can point us to some qualities of motherhood that we need to encourage in our young women today. Our pews are full today of exemplary models of motherhood. Let us honor them today.

Happy Mother’s Day!