THE HIGH CALLING OF MOTHERHOOD
Dear Friends in Christ and beloved Christian mothers,
In the United States, Mother's Day started better than 150 years ago when Anna Jarvis, an Appalachian homemaker, organized a day to raise awareness of the poor health conditions in her community. She believed it would best be advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day." Her daughter, whose name was also Anna, took up her mother’s cause and began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. During her life, there was an unofficial Mother’s Day celebrated in our country
In 1914, Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day as official, the second Sunday in May. It is interesting to note that although Jarvis was successful in founding Mother's Day, she became resentful of the commercialization of the holiday.
At first, people observed Mother's Day by attending church, writing letters to their mothers, and eventually, by sending cards, presents, and flowers. With the increasing gift-giving activity, Anna Jarvis became enraged. She believed that the day's sentiment was being sacrificed at the expense of greed and profit. In 1923 she filed a lawsuit to stop Mother's Day. Before her death in 1948, she confessed that she regretted ever starting the mother's day tradition. Interesting, isn’t it?
Mother’s Day is a lot like Thanksgiving. We celebrate Thanksgiving one day a year and say every day ought to be Thanksgiving Day. So it is with mothers. We celebrate Mother’s Day. Every day ought to be a day to celebrate mothers and what God has tasked moms to do. Let’s talk about the The High Calling of Motherhood 1) as nurturing mother and 2) Christian mother.
Someone made this curious observation that the sun can produce what seems to be the exact opposite results in different substances. It hardens clay but also melts ice. It promotes health in humans in moderation, but kills germs. It tans or can burn your skin but bleaches out cloth. That is the kind of reaction that mothers and fathers can have at times with their children. It can be negative or positive, a source of great joy or sadness. I read an article about family and parenting where a Mom wrote, “Motherhood is surreal. Despite your best intentions to be a “cool mom,” it’s often hard to refrain from bursting out with absurdities like “We don’t eat iPhones in this house,” or “Get your tiara off the cat.” Yet, despite the numerous moments of frustration and anxiety, motherhood is filled with many more moments of joy. Joy in that first moment you see your newborn’s sleepy little face, or the first time your daughter draws a picture of the two of you holding hands, or that moment you look at your spouse and realize you’re traveling side by side in the greatest adventure of your lives. Pure, exquisite, unbounded joy.” A mother of three notoriously unruly youngsters was asked whether or not she'd have children if she had it to do over again. "Yes," she replied. "But not with the same children."
As a pastor, I am reminded not to get too schmaltzy or sentimental about motherhood on Mother’s Day because:
- for some, motherhood was an accident, and not always a welcome one;
- for some, biological motherhood isn’t possible;
- for some, the idea of a mother is not pleasant because some people didn’t have a nice mother;
- for some, motherhood under the very best of circumstances is less than a bed of roses.
We live in an imperfect world, don’t we?
Jesus returned to Capernaum after a long preaching journey. Jesus and his disciples needed some food and rest, but the people kept coming. There wasn’t even time for them to eat. Jesus wasn’t doing anything to discourage this endless parade of people. He kept preaching, teaching and healing. That’s when his family said enough is enough! Jesus brothers (we will talk about this in a minute) said aloud that he was insane! That’s when they went to the house where Jesus was and couldn’t even get inside. “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. They wanted him to stop and take some time off. I am sure that Mary, his mother, was leading the charge. She was concerned for her son.
Mothers do that. Take a look at Proverbs 31, starting at verse 10. God praises the mother whose life is Him and her family. Allow me to read a few poignant verses. “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.” Precious is the wife and mother who prides herself in God and family God has given her. I pray that all of husbands and children thank God constantly for the wife you men married and the mother God gave to us.
“Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Husband and wife are a team and trust each other and work for the common good of the family. Children need to see Mom and Dad as gifts that God gave them and are thankful and obedient. That’s what God intends
The Proverb continues with all kinds of activity a wife and mother does. She is not a woman who hangs on Facebook all day. She is not a woman who is barefoot and pregnant as cynics think Christian women are. A godly mother provides a good home and a place of refuge for her family where children and husband feel safe and to be loved.
“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” That doesn’t go unnoticed by her family. “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” I hope all are dads and children use this day to say, “Thank you, Mom! You are a gift from God!” Moms be good mothers. It is your calling.
But there is something even more vital. You are called to be a Christian mother. Let’s get back to Matthew. Mary and her sons showed up and wanted to speak personally with Jesus. They sent word inside the packed house where Jesus and his disciples were ministering to that packed house.
Just a little tangent. The Roman Church makes some very big assumptions about Mary which have no foundation in Scripture. For instance, they say that Mary is a Virgin in perpetuity. She and Joseph were never intimate. That would mean obviously Jesus was an only child. Mom showed up with his brothers. In other places in the Bible we find that his brothers were James, Joseph, Judas and Simon. The Bible also says there were sisters. Maybe they were step children of Mary. There is nothing in the Bible that says that. .
But there was something very sad about the siblings of Jesus. They called Jesus “insane” because he kept so little time for himself. In John’s Gospel it is written that “they did not believe in him.” They questioned what he claimed. Don’t you think that Mary hurt inside at those words that his brothers called Jesus? Taking it a step farther, if they had died at this time, they would have been condemned eternally? Mary must have been a woman of prayer.
Even Jesus acknowledged the unbelief in his own family. He once said, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” Maybe this was the reason from the cross Jesus said to John, Behold your mother! Maybe that was part of the reason he told Mary, “Behold your son!” He knew she would be safe with John. We do have to be fair that James, his brother became the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Judas was the one whom God used to write the second to the last book of the Bible. But that happened after Jesus arose from the dead. I am sure that Mary was praying for that all the while.
When Jesus got the message that his Mother and brothers were outside he says something interesting. “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Do you remember when Jesus said that if you love mother and father or son or daughter more than Jesus such a person is not worthy of Jesus? Nothing is more important than our relationship with God through Christ. There is nothing more important than being united by faith and members of the Holy Christian Church.
There are contests to be “Mother of the Year.” There are contests for Mrs. America. I am sure there are all kinds of criteria judges use – volunteer hours, community leadership, innovation and job success. All of those things are fine and good, but has an ultimate criterion - faith in Jesus. Nothing is more important than to be an unabashed and unashamed Christian mother who passes her faith down to her children. Nothing is more important than to be a light shining in this world where anyone can see without a doubt, that woman loves Jesus.
It would be interesting to know a little more about the Mary and Joseph household. I wonder how many times Mary told Jesus about how the angel Gabriel told her the amazing news that she would have a child. The Holy Spirit would cause this child to be conceived in her. I wonder if she told that to the other children. I wonder how much she thought about how God in his grace made her realize she was the one about whom the Prophet Isaiah spoke: “A virgin will conceive and bear a son. His name will be called Immanuel which means God with us.” Yes, Immanuel would be her child, but her Savior too. I wonder if she ever thought about the fact that she would not give him the inheritance, but that he would give the inheritance of inheritances that “can never perish, spoil, or fade kept in heaven for you.”
How many times did she think about the shepherds who came the night he was born; how the angels sang, how the Wise Men brought gifts from faraway lands guided by the star?
While all of that is kind of fun to speculate on, what is most important is to ask yourself as mother and father how much have you treasured the truths of Jesus. How much have you shared and spoken freely to your family about all the good things Jesus has done. How he has loved you so.
There is a German proverb that goes like this. It works with Mom or Dad. ”To become a (mother) is not so difficult; on the other hand, being a (mother) is very much.” In German it rhymes and is a bit more fun.
Being a mother or a father is difficult. Thank God we, like Mary knew Jesus is our Savior too. We need his forgiveness for the times we failed to be patient and understanding. We need his forgiveness for the times we simply failed to do a good job.
One last thought. When Robert Ingersoll, the notorious skeptic who wreaked damage on God’s church through his evil and open doubting of Christianity, was in his heyday, two college students went to hear him lecture. As they walked down the street after the lecture, one said to the other, “Well, I guess he knocked the legs out from under Christianity, didn’t he?” The other said, “No, I don’t think he did. Ingersoll did not explain my mother’s life, and until he can explain my mother’s life I will stand by my mother’s God.”
I pray that your children will always see and know your God from what they see in you. I pray that you have a very happy Mother’s Day!