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Sermon 5-10-09
John 19:25-27 - Mother's Day

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Mother’s Day

“…There were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother,Woman, behold, your son!Then He said to the disciple,Behold, your mother!And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household” (John 19:25-27)

Women are often powerful, strong and enduring, and the men who are supposed to protect them often aren't as strong as they are supposed to be. Women bear children like they always have, give up their own lives to raise them and in many generations have given up their own hopes and dreams to make their husband’s careers happen. The British celebrated the fourth Sunday in Lent as a day to honor this characteristic of Mothers, and in America the custom became an officially recognized “Mother’s Day.”

One hundred and fifty years ago, Anna Jarvis, a homemaker in the area of Appalachia in the United States, organized an awareness day for poor health conditions in her community, a cause she believed would be best advocated by mothers. She called it "Mother's Work Day." In 1905, when Anna Jarvis died, her daughter, also named Anna, began a campaign to memorialize the life work of her mother. Young Anna remembered a Sunday school lesson that her mother gave in which she said, "I hope and pray that someone, sometime, will found a memorial Mother's Day.” She noted “there are many days for men, but none for mothers.

Anna, in the manner of many women, began to lobby prominent businessmen like John Wannamaker and politicians including U.S. Presidents Taft and Roosevelt to support her campaign to create a special day to honor mothers. At one of the first services organized to celebrate Anna's mother in 1908 at her church in West Virginia, Anna handed out her mother's favorite flower, the white carnation. Five years later, the American House of Representatives adopted a resolution calling for officials of the federal government to wear white carnations on Mother's Day. In 1914, Anna's hard work paid off when U.S. President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday which is currently May 10th in the year 2009.

A key Scripture about women is Proverbs 31, in which we encounter a dynamite woman called an “excellent wife.” She provides for everyone in a large “household,” buys materials and sells, considers and buys fields, hires and fires workers and “smiles at the future.” Much more so than men, this has been the way of many women through the centuries. “Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also (if he has any sense), and he praises her…” (Proverbs 31:10-31).

In his book, “Around The Table, A Year Of Meditations,” the author George Boose asked the question, “When was Mary’s Mother’s Day?” He responded to his own question: “It wouldn’t have been that eighth day after the birth of Jesus in the temple when Simeon warned Mary, ‘And a sword will pierce your own soul, too’ (Luke 2:35). It probably didn’t come after a few years had passed when Jesus, only 12 years old, said to His earthly parents after being thought lost, ‘Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?’ (Luke 2:49). We don’t think Mary observed her Mother’s Day years later during the ministry of Jesus when she traveled to hear Him speak but could not approach because of the crowd. When informed of the situation, Jesus’ only reply was, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s Word and put it into practice’ (Luke 8:21). None of these times appeared to be particularly joyous events, an occasion to be called, ‘Mary’s Mother’s Day.’ And surely,” George Boose continued, “it wasn’t that black day at Golgotha when Mary witnessed her Son nailed to a cross.” He concluded, “Christian mothers are priceless in the sight of God. May we treat them in a manner befitting their value.”

As we can see in Proverbs 31, women have been powerful forces for good in history. They have borne with strength the absence of their men, who have often spent much of their time away from home. They have brought children into the world and if the children do well in life, it’s because she nurtures them. All too often the churches that are in the land might have stood empty except for the women who attended them. When I was a boy, I remember noting that most of the pews were filled with women, with a few men dotted here and there. It has occurred to me more than once that “women’s intuition,” noted by many around the world, is often the Presence of the Holy Spirit in them, which many men have lacked because the women went to church, bringing their children with them, while their men stayed home.

Women are often stronger than men where it counts. Women are strong in feelings and men usually intellectualize life, probably because feelings are not easily controlled. You can see the strength of women by the restrictions placed on them in Scripture. In Genesis 3:16, it is said of women, “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” Ephesians 5:23 says (in the context of “husbands LOVE your wives"), “the husband is the head of the wife.” 1 Peter 3:1 says, “You wives be submissive to your own husbands.” 1 Timothy 2:14 gives us a glimpse of the reason why she has this role: “It was not Adam (the first man) who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.

The first woman, Eve, was just as intelligent as Adam, her husband. But when tempted, she was drawn by her own feelings, desiring to “be like God, knowing good from evil” (Genesis 3:5), whereas her husband intellectualized the situation and followed her lead. She had the strength of emotions and he had the weakness of merely his thoughts as a guide. Therefore the man was sentenced to be the leader in marriage because he is weaker than she is. Recognizing and acknowledging his limitations, he is supposed to look to God for His strength.

There are no limits to what a woman can do. There was a recent Associated Press article about newly promoted General Ann E. Dunwoody, the first woman in the U. S. military to become a four-star general. She remarked, “There is no one more surprised than I – except of course, my husband. You know what they say, ‘Behind every successful woman, there is an astonished man.’

George Boose observed it was not easy for Mary to be the mother of Jesus Christ, and when you consider what a mother does, it’s amazing the strength God has given them. The angel appeared to Mary, saying, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:28). The next verse reports, “she was troubled at his saying…” as she must have been troubled many times. But she also said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She was a woman of faith, as women need to be in order to live the very difficult lives that God has set out for them. And so Scripture teaches us, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). And “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. ‘Honor your father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth’” (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Father, give us strength to live the life You have set out for us, and give us honest love for the women You have placed in our lives.  Protect and comfort those women who care for us. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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