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MOTHER’S DAY

Today is Mother’s Day, a special day to remember our mothers for
•    their undying love,
•    their untiring work,
•    their unselfish giving,    and
•    their undivided devotion.

Efforts to establish a Mother’s Day began in the 19th century with three women given credit because of their persistency.
•    In 1870, abolitionist and suffragist Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” asking mothers to encourage pacifism and disarmament to promote world peace. She campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” celebrated every June 2 in Boston for about ten years under her sponsorship. She was already famous for writing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" after she and her husband met Abraham Lincoln at the White House in November 1861. It quickly became one of the most popular songs of the Union during the American Civil War.
•    Before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” which taught local women proper child care. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region still divided over the Civil War. In 1868, Jarvis organized “Mother’s Friendship Day.” Mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

      Ann’s daughter Anna Jarvis promoted the idea of a Day to honor the sacrifices Mothers made for their children. She gained financial backing from Philadelphia department store owner John Wanamaker. In May 1908, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. 407 children and their mothers attended, and each received a carnation, her mother's favorite flower. That same day thousands attended a Mother’s Day event at a Wanamaker retail store in Philadelphia.

      By 1912, many states and towns had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. Jarvis established the Mother’s Day International Association to help promote her cause. Her persistence paid off when on May 9, 1914, by an act of Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day, “a time for 'public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country.'' By then it had become customary to wear white carnations to honor departed mothers and red to honor the living, a custom that continues to this day. I don’t know about other families, but Cynthia wears a red flower today because her mother Dorothy is living in Heaven with Jesus.

Mothers need to be honored and deserve to be honored. I think about a little boy that forgot his lines in a Sunday school presentation. His mother was in the front row to prompt him. She gestured and formed the words silently with her lips, but it did not help. Her son's memory was blank. Finally, she leaned forward and whispered the cue, "I am the light of the world." The child beamed and with great feeling and a loud clear voice said, "My mother is the light of the world." I'm sure that many feel the same way about their mother. There are not enough words in our vocabulary to say all that should be said about mothers.

Second graders had these answers to questions about mothers.

•    Why did God make mothers?
            ''Mostly to clean the house.''
•    Why did God give you your mother and not some other mom?
            ''God knew she’d like me a lot more than other people's mom like me.''
•    Who is the boss at your house?
            ''I guess Mom is because she has a lot more to do than Dad.''
•    What does your mom do in her spare time?
            ''Mothers don't do spare time.''
•    What would it take to make your mom perfect?
            ''On the inside she's already perfect. Outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery.''
Well, there you have it straight from some brilliant second graders!

I’ve read that some pastors don’t think Mother’s Day is worthy of its own sermon. After all, it isn’t a federal holiday, and it doesn’t appear on any Church Year calendar. Perhaps those pastors don’t realize how much the Bible says about mothers.
•    God instituted marriage between a man and a woman and founded the home as the basic unit of society: a father, mother, and children (Genesis 2:24). Jesus repeated this passage in Mark 10:6-9. Genesis 3:20 describes the first mother, Eve.
•    We honor our mothers because God commands it. Exodus 20:12, the fifth commandment, gives instructions on relationship with parents. God showed the importance of this commandment when He placed it immediately following those regarding Himself. Paul also emphasizes the commandment (Ephesians 6:1-2).
•    Other instructions concerning family relationships are Exodus 21:15, 17; Deuteronomy 21:18; Proverbs 10:1; Proverbs 19:26; and Micah 7:6.
•    Jesus, as a human Son, was a wonderful example. Here are two incidents. The first involves a wedding and His first miracle in John 2:1-11. Jesus’ very presence at the wedding showed His high esteem for the sanctity of marriage. It also showed he was an obedient Son. The second incident occurred during His final moments on the cross when He spoke seven times. First He asked the Father to forgive His enemies. He then gave a promise to the dying thief. His third word was to His mother and to John, the beloved disciple. To his mother He said, Behold thy son, and to John, Behold thy Mother.

        Picture the scene. Three crosses upon Calvary's hill. Jesus, the Son of God, hangs on the central cross. Jesus looks down and sees His mother standing near the cross. By her side is the disciple John. Jesus now lifts His voice and says to His mother, "Woman, look at John. From now on He will be your son." Then He spoke to John, "John from now on she is to be your mother." And from that time on, John took Mary to his own home. Jesus completed His mission to earth. He discharged fully His duties to man and to God. He was not willing to die and leave anything undone that He ought to do, so He arranged for His mother's future.

Motherhood was an honor to Hebrew women, and the mother of sons was Israel’s most honored woman.
•    A wife’s chief duty was to give her husband children.
•    In Hebrew homes there was rejoicing at the birth of the first child, especially a son.
•    Childlessness or barrenness was looked upon as an affliction or disgrace.
•    According to many verses in the Old Testament, the husband’s respect and affection for his wife increased when she bore him a son.
•    Probably many Hebrew maidens thought about the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 and wondered if “she would [be the one to] conceive and bear a son and should call his name Immanuel,” she might be the mother of Messiah.
•    In Leviticus 19:3, the mother is actually mentioned before the father.
•    Proverbs 1:8 asserts that the teachings of mothers and fathers were to be equally heeded.
•    In the books of Kings and Chronicles, much stress is placed on the character of the mothers of the rulers of the kingdom of Judah. Some were “evil in the sight of the Lord.” Two mothers, Jezebel and her daughter Athalia, were worshipers of false gods and helped to set in motion the destruction of the monarchy. Of Jerusha, a good mother, it is recorded that her son Jotham became mighty because she had “prepared his ways before the Lord his God.”
•    Deborah was a judge in Israel, but her highest title was “a mother in Israel.”
•    The prophet Elijah met a starving widow of Zerapath who was preparing to cook her last meal with a handful of grain and a few drops of oil. Like any other mother, she planned to share even this tiny remaining portion of food with her son. Thanks to Elijah, the jar of meal and the cruse of oil never failed until the end of the famine.
•    Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 27:10; and Psalm 139:13-16 are significant in understanding the mother’s role.

More than 100 mothers are listed by name in the Old Testament and 18 in the New Testament. Among them are:
•    Sarah, the Mother of Isaac.
•    Rebekah, the Mother of Jacob and Esau.
•    Rachel, the Mother of Joseph and Benjamin.
•    Jochebed, the Mother of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
•    Bathsheba, the Mother of Solomon.
•    Hannah had no children for a long period of time. She went to God in prayer and asked God to give her a son. When Samuel was born, she said, "I will take him and present him before the LORD, and he will live there always. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD."
•    Naomi is recognized as a mother, a mother-in-law, and a widow. When both sons died, one daughter-in-law decided to return to her own people, but Ruth chose to return to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. Ruth gleaned in the field of a wealthy landowner and distant relative, Boaz, who remarked on her loyalty. As Paul Harvey would say, “the rest of the story” is found in the Bible Book of Ruth.

Most of Proverbs chapter 31 is a portrait of a mother’s service to her household. She typifies the God-loving mothers of Israel whose godliness, chastity, charity, diligence, efficiency, and earnestness have influenced all God-loving mothers throughout history.
•    She works willingly with her hands.
•    She brings food from afar.
•    She rises while it is yet night and gives meat to her household.
•    She stretches out her hand to the poor.
•    She is not afraid of the snow for her household.
•    She is not idle.

The Hebrew Talmud summarized Israel’s highest experiences of motherhood: “The home is the temple of the woman, the education of her children her divine service, and the family her congregation.”

In the New Testament we read of
•    Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist.
•    Mary the mother of John, also called Mark.
•    [the other] Mary, the mother of James and Joses.
•    Salome, mother of disciples James and John.
•    Several mothers are named in the ancestry of Jesus in Matthew 1:5-6.

Paul honored mothers in his letters.
•    Of the 26 people he singles out for his personal greeting in Romans 16, 6 were women. In verse 13, he makes this special reference:
            Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too.
•    Timothy was a special young man who became Paul’s fellow worker. His grandmother, Lois and his mother, Eunice had taught him from a child the things of the Holy Scriptures and had brought him to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:1; 2 Timothy 1:5).

Let me introduce three more recent mothers and tell of their influence on their sons.
•    Samuel Wesley was a graduate of the University of Oxford and rector of the church in Epworth, England. He and his wife Susannah became members of the Church of England as young adults. Susannah was the mother of nineteen children but only nine lived beyond infancy. Each child, including the girls, was taught to read as soon as they could walk and talk. They were expected to become proficient in Latin and Greek and to learn major portions of the New Testament by heart. Mother Wesley examined the progress of each child before the midday meal and prior to evening prayers. Children were interviewed separately by their mother one evening each week for intensive spiritual instruction. John became the leader of the Methodist sect, and Charles was the writer of great hymns.

•    Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln were members of a Separate Baptists church which had restrictive moral standards and opposed alcohol, dancing, and slavery. When their son Abraham was 9, his mother died. His father married Sarah "Sally" Bush Johnston, a widow with three children of her own. Lincoln became very close to his stepmother, whom he referred to as "Mother." President Lincoln said, “No man is poor who has a godly mother. I remember my mother's prayers, and they have followed me. They have clung to me all my life. All that I am and hope to be I owe to my angel mother."

•    George Beverly Shea tells this story. “I came home from school and found a poem on our piano. There was a note from my mother asking me to compose music for the poem written by a friend, Mrs. Rhea H. Miller. After reading the words, I sat at the piano and composed the tune.” Written in 1932, “I’d Rather Have Jesus” became one of his best-known solos which he sang for over 60 years at Billy Graham Crusades.

On Mother’s Day, we honor mothers and mother figures: grandmothers, great-grandmothers, mothers-in-law, stepmothers, and foster mothers.
•    It is not a federal holiday. Organizations, businesses, and stores are open or closed, just as they are on any other Sunday. Public transit systems run on their normal Sunday schedules.
•    More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than any other day of the year. These holiday chats with Mom often cause phone traffic to spike by as much as 37 percent.
•    Families celebrate by giving Mother a day off from activities like cooking or other household chores. They may organize an outing or hold a special meal at home or in a restaurant.
•    In the days before Mother's Day, many schools help pupils prepare a handmade card or small gift for their mothers.
•    Clubs and churches have events like aTea or lunchen.

People may ridicule Mother’s Day as a lot of sentimental drivel, nothing more than the creation of greeting card companies and florists. It has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending. Mother’s Day has been a date for launching political or feminist causes. In 1968, Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. In the 1970s women’s groups also used the holiday to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.

Every day should be Mother’s Day. Mothers should be saluted for their tenacious love and for their tremendous impact. Where mothers are, that is where home is. Today, and every day, if you are privileged to have your mother with you our your wife, the mother of your children,
GIVE HER AFFIRMATION.
GIVE HER AFFECTION.
GIVE HER ACKNOWLEDGMENT.
GIVE HER ATTENTION.
GIVE HER APPRECIATION.
PRAY FOR HER.
THANK GOD FOR HER AND HER INFLUENCE.


THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
             Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
              In Your name I pray, Amen.


    Rev. Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri   2015