The Power of Parenting: Mother's Day
Today is the first of a two sermons where we are looking at the Power of Parenting.
The second will be on Father’s Day.
I’ve never preached a Mother’s Day sermon before.
Truth is that Mother’s Day, as great as it is, isn’t a Christian Holiday.
Also, Mother’s Day can be hard for folks.
Folks that have lost their mothers
Folks that have difficult relationships with their mothers.
Mother’s that have difficult relationships with their kids.
Folks that have experienced infertility or miscarriage
Those that deeply desire to have children and haven’t had the chance.
But we also know how important the family is
Large chunks of scripture deal with how we are be family
Both OT and NT
Family is also a primary image that scripture uses to describe the people of God.
Also, God chose a family, the family of Abram, to be his people and to work through to redeem the world.
We, as the church, are grafted into that family
Think of the family language that scripture uses to describe the Church.
Who remember’s the 1991 movie Hook?
a grown-up, burned-out Peter Pan (Played by Robin Williams) whose children have been kidnapped by his old archenemy, Captain Hook.
Near the end of the film, Peter has Hook right in his sights and is about to take his revenge, but his daughter, Maggie, stays his hand, saying that the captain is “just a mean ol’ man without a mommy.”
Maggie’s words echo a theme found throughout every Peter Pan story—that somehow all the heartache in the world can be fixed by a mother’s love.
A sentiment that we see all through out our culture, but one that isn’t, maybe, totally accurate.
In the weeks leading up to the second Sunday of May, we’re surrounded by flowery cards filled with sappy sentiments about how wonderful our mothers are.
In church, we’re often pointed to the example of “the Proverbs 31 woman,” who gets up early, stays up late, and somehow manages to perfectly balance self-care, motherhood, and a career.
But for many women this ideal looks nothing like their real lives, and the disconnect leaves them feeling broken, hopeless, and like failures.
And for many women in the Bible too!
Look at two of those today.
During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to stay in the territory of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi. The names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the fields of Moab and settled there. Naomi’s husband, Elimelech, died, and she was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about ten years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and the woman was left without her two children and without her husband. She and her daughters-in-law set out to return from the territory of Moab, because she had heard in Moab that the Lord had paid attention to his people’s need by providing them food. She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah. Naomi said to them, “Each of you go back to your mother’s home. May the Lord show kindness to you as you have shown to the dead and to me. May the Lord grant each of you rest in the house of a new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly. They said to her, “We insist on returning with you to your people.” But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me.” Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. Follow your sister-in-law.” But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.
There was a man from Ramathaim-zophim in the hill country of Ephraim. His name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. He had two wives, the first named Hannah and the second Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless. This man would go up from his town every year to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of Armies at Shiloh, where Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were the Lord’s priests. Whenever Elkanah offered a sacrifice, he always gave portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to each of her sons and daughters. But he gave a double portion to Hannah, for he loved her even though the Lord had kept her from conceiving. Her rival would taunt her severely just to provoke her, because the Lord had kept Hannah from conceiving. Year after year, when she went up to the Lord’s house, her rival taunted her in this way. Hannah would weep and would not eat. “Hannah, why are you crying?” her husband, Elkanah, would ask. “Why won’t you eat? Why are you troubled? Am I not better to you than ten sons?” On one occasion, Hannah got up after they ate and drank at Shiloh. The priest Eli was sitting on a chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s temple. Deeply hurt, Hannah prayed to the Lord and wept with many tears. Making a vow, she pleaded, “Lord of Armies, if you will take notice of your servant’s affliction, remember and not forget me, and give your servant a son, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and his hair will never be cut.” While she continued praying in the Lord’s presence, Eli watched her mouth. Hannah was praying silently, and though her lips were moving, her voice could not be heard. Eli thought she was drunk and said to her, “How long are you going to be drunk? Get rid of your wine!” “No, my lord,” Hannah replied. “I am a woman with a broken heart. I haven’t had any wine or beer; I’ve been pouring out my heart before the Lord. Don’t think of me as a wicked woman; I’ve been praying from the depth of my anguish and resentment.” Eli responded, “Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant the request you’ve made of him.” “May your servant find favor with you,” she replied. Then Hannah went on her way; she ate and no longer looked despondent.
How does God see the mom who doesn’t have everything perfectly figured out?
What is his heart toward the mothers who are praying for children who have walked away from the faith?
Does he hear the moms who are grieving children taken from life too soon, or the women who long to be mothers but whose time has not yet come?
The answer: he sees them as his daughters, and he loves them just as much as the mothers who—externally at least—appear to have it all together.
As we look through Scripture, we find examples of mothers who are exalted:
Mary the mother of Jesus, and
Timothy’s mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5).
We also find examples of mothers with struggles: Sarah and Elizabeth, mothers who longed for children well into their golden years before their prayers were answered (see Genesis 21; Luke 1).
We see stories of mothers celebrating, grieving, and doing whatever they can to keep their children alive in the midst of tyrannical decrees and famine (see Exodus 1:1–2:10; 1 Kings 17).
The widow that Elijah meets in the midst of famine.
When we turn to the book of Ruth, we find a family (and a nation) in crisis.
Not only was there a famine affecting the entire region, but the people of Israel had forgotten God and the work he did for Israel when he brought them out of Egypt into the land of promise.
This is in the time of the Judges
That whole generation was also gathered to their ancestors. After them another generation rose up who did not know the Lord or the works he had done for Israel.
While we don’t know much about Naomi’s family before their move to Moab, it’s safe to assume she did her best to care for them.
But when she went with her husband in search of food, she didn’t just leave her hometown—she left her community and any relationships that meant something in her life.
In the following ten years, Naomi would meet grief after grief as the family she’d spent her life nurturing slipped through her fingers, one after another.
Husband and both sons
Before we reach the end of the first chapter, we find Naomi with her widowed and childless daughters-in-law, scavenging for food in a field owned by another man (v. 6).
This is a women who, despite her faith, and even despite having tried everything to help and serve her family, does not have everything together.
In fact, it might have seemed to Naomi that it was quite the opposite.
And then there was Hannah: a woman who was daily reminded that she’d failed to live up to her society’s belief that a woman’s sole purpose was to bear and raise children—particularly, sons.
Family dynamics aside, instead of finding compassion from someone who was privy to her innermost grief, she was mocked (1 Samuel 1:6).
Instead of finding support from her husband, she was made to feel guilty for not being content (v. 8).
And instead of finding understanding when she entered the house of the Lord, she was accused of living a life of sin (vv. 12–14).
In these stories we don’t have examples of mistakes to avoid or disasters to prepare for,
Rather, Throughout scripture, God shows how he cares for mothers
No mater how frantic, frazzled, embittered, or desperate they may be, or seem
In showing this care, God invites us to come alongside these struggling women
Help them to lighten their burdens
release them from from unwarranted shame
In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul tells husbands to make it a priority to show their love to their wives.
If you’re a married man, look for areas where your wife is struggling to find balance in her life, and find ways to support her.
If you’re a dad, offer to take the kids and give her some time to care of herself.
Encourage her to pursue creative endeavors that bring her joy.
Most of all, pray for her, that she will see herself as God sees her: precious and beloved and worth sacrificing everything for
Love her as Christ loved the church
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her
How did Christ love the church
Gave himself in total sacrifice to it
Those of us that have mother’s, esp Kids and teens, Let us remember that even though Jesus was by all rights superior to Mary and Joseph, he still trusted them and did as they asked of him.
He did this because of his love for his heavenly Father and because of his love for them (Luke 2:48–51).
When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked them. “Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them. His mother kept all these things in her heart.
How can you honor your mom today, as Jesus did with Mary?
And finally, as the apostle Paul writes in Colossians 3:12–16, as members of the body of Christ, it is our privilege and responsibility to support the women in our lives both as mothers and as sisters in Christ.
Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
If you know of a mother (or a mother-in-waiting) who is struggling, look for ways you can befriend her in a supportive manner rather than simply offering kind words and promises of prayer (or criticism!).
When we become known for our care and our support of those in our midst, we become a safe place where others can come to share their needs and ask for help.
Our statistics show us that there is a disproportionately high number of single mothers in our immediate area.
What are we doing to serve them?
What are we doing to lighten their load?
Handy man ministry?
Mother’s Day out
Families are how God has chosen to work in our world.
Proclaimed that it was Abram’s family that he would use to redeem the world
Sent the Son to live in a family
Proclaims that we, the church, are a family
The family, not the individual, is the base unit of the Kingdom of God
None of this are we intended to do on our own.
Motherhood is not a road that’s meant to be walked alone. We as a church have a privilege and a responsibility to come alongside mothers and women who long to be mothers: to encourage, lift up, and offer physical help as needed.