Mothers' Day - May 13

Sermons for Mother's Day:

Romans 16:13 - Mother's Day

John 15:9-17 - Whistling Jesus - by Leonard Sweet


 I must candidly confess that when I was in seminary the 16th chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans didn't do much for me. It struck me as being boring nothing more than a long presentation of people's names, most of whom I could not pronounce; I usually skimmed over that part so I could get to what I considered to be the real Gospel. Over the years I have greatly changed my attitude about this particular chapter and I have discovered that there is much more to it than I had first imagined. For example, it is interesting to note that of the twenty-six people who Paul singles out for his personal greeting, six were women. Now that strikes me as being rather interesting, since Paul has frequently gotten a bum rap for being a male chauvinist. I think it also shows us the tremendous influence that women had in the early church. In the male oriented first century Palestine, it is telling that Paul could not describe the church without mentioning the significant role of women.

 Verse 13 of chapter 16 is particularly interesting and it is one that scholars have struggled with over the centuries. Paul writes: "Give my greetings to Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine." Now this statement could be taken two ways. It could mean that Paul had two distinct women in mind--the mother of Rufus and his own personal mother. Or, he could be saying: "I salute Rufus and his mother, who is like a mother to me." If that is what he meant, and most Biblical scholars agree that that is indeed what he meant, then it raises some interesting speculation. When and where did Paul meet Rufus' mother? Did she nurse him through some serious illness?

 Did she receive him into her home for an extended stay during his missionary journeys? How did this woman and Paul form such a close bond that he refers to her fondly as being like his mother? Mark tells us that Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus cross, had two sons: Alexander and Rufus. Was this the same Rufus to whom Paul was speaking? If that is true, his mother would be Simon of Syrene's wife. No one knows for sure who this remarkable woman was who served as a mother figure for the great Paul. But it really makes no difference, because what he writes makes an excellent springboard for a Mother's Day sermon.

 Some people ridicule Mother's Day as a lot of sentimental drivel. They say that it is nothing more than the creation of the greeting card companies and the florists. And, to be perfectly candid, there are many ministers who shun this day because, they say, it is not a religious holiday. Furthermore, they preach from the lectionary, which has an assigned scriptural reading each week, and therefore mother's day is left out.

 Well, of course, we must admit that there is sentiment to this day, but what is wrong with that? Seems to me that a little bit of sentiment is healthy. True enough, there are some women in the Bible, such as Jezebel and the vindictive Herodias, who had John the Baptist beheaded, who tarnish the institution of motherhood. There are women today who abandon, abuse, and corrupt their children and who create a poor model, but I like to think that these are the exceptions. Most mothers do the right thing and deserve recognition. So this morning I would like to join Paul and salute all of the mothers who are with us.

1. First, mothers should be saluted for their tenacious love.
2. Secondly, mothers should be saluted for the tremendous impact they have.
3. Third, mothers should be saluted because where they are, that is where home is.


No one casts a longer shadow throughout the course of one's life than a mother. Will all our mothers stand? We honor and celebrate you for the sheltering shade of those shadows.

 Back in the mid-1950's Theodor Geisel railed and revolted against the boringly banal primers forced on first time readers. His books, penned under the now famous name of "Dr. Seuss," transformed reading to our little ones from dull and dreary tales of "Dick and Jane" to the lyrical fun of "The Cat in the Hat."

 Adding to this new literary library was a protégé of the Dr. Seuss style, the books of P.D. Eastman. His "classics" in this new children's literature include "Go, Dog, Go," "One Fish, Two fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," and especially, my favorite, "Are You My Mother?"

 Just in case you did not get the chance to read "Are You My Mother?" aloud six hundred times over the course of your children's childhood, it is the simple story of a baby bird who hatches out of his egg while his mother is off the nest. The little bird falls out and promptly sets off looking to find his missing mom. Having no clue what his mother may look like, the fledgling approaches dogs and cats, trucks and boats, and finally a huge steam shovel (who deftly dumps him safely back into his nest), earnestly asking each one, "Are you my mother?"

 We all crave a mother's presence and pine for a mother's love. This Sunday, the second Sunday in May, has been officially designated as "Mother's Day" since May 9, 1914. But in England as far back as the 1600's there has been a tradition of a "Mothering Sunday." Originally born out of the Catholic celebrations of Mary, the Mother of Christ, the English "Mothering Sunday" allowed poor women who worked and lived as servants in wealthy households a day off to return home and be with their own families.

 It is fitting that "Mother's Day" is designated as a Sunday celebration. For though we do not refer to this imagery very much anymore, we are gathered together this day in our "Mother Church." St. Cyprian, a third century African bishop, said it is impossible to have God as our Father if we do not have the church as our mother. We don't worship the church, and we do worship Christ. But as access to God is primarily thru Christ, and the body of Christ is the church, so the old ship of Zion is our Mothership...

 If They Are Going to Get You...

 Author, speaker and sports enthusiast Pat Williams, in his book A Lifetime of Success, give one of the best examples I know of a mother's love.

 He tells of attending a very special Atlanta Braves' baseball home opener on April 8, 1974. It was a night game against the Dodgers and it was a complete sellout. Williams looked around to see that, seated immediately behind him was singer Pearl Bailey. Up at the plate: the immortal Henry Aaron. On the line: Babe Ruth's record of 714 career home runs. Aaron had tied the record and tonight he was aiming to break it.

 Understand that this was nearly 40 years ago. An African-American player was about to topple the great Babe Ruth--and a lot of people in the country didn't like it. Aaron got a lot of mail that year--more than 930,000 letters in all, far more than any other person in the country. Most were fan letters--but about 100,000 of them were hate letters, some containing death threats.

Williams says he was on the edge of his seat when Dodgers pitcher Al Downing hurled the ball toward the plate. Aaron swung and connected. The crack of his bat echoed through the stands.

 The ball was gone. Home run. Babe Ruth's record was shattered. The ballpark went nuts.

"As Aaron rounded second base," says Williams, "a couple of teenagers--both white--jumped over the retaining wall and ran onto the field, chasing Aaron. For a moment, no one knew what they had in mind, but then it became clear: they were celebrating and cheering Aaron on. As Aaron crossed the plate, the dugout emptied as the Braves streamed onto the field to surround him, cheering and whooping it up. But amid all those ballplayers around Aaron was a short, sixty-eight-year-old black woman. She latched onto Aaron and wouldn't let go of him.

"Henry Aaron turned and said to her, 'Mom! What are you doing here?'

"'Baby,' said the mother of the new home-run king, 'if they're gonna get you,' (thinking of the death threats Aaron had received) 'they've gotta get me first!'"

 That is love only a mother could have for her child. "If they're gonna get you, they've gotta get me first!"

 Pat Williams, A Lifetime of Success, (Grand Rapids. MI: Fleming H. Revell, 2000), pp. 109-110, adapted by King Duncan


 A Mother's Prayer

 If I live in a house of spotless beauty with everything in its place, but have not love, I am a housekeeper--not a homemaker. If I have time for waxing, polishing, and decorative achievements, but have not love, my children learn cleanliness - not godliness. Love leaves the dust in search of a child's laugh. Love smiles at the tiny fingerprints on a newly cleaned window. Love wipes away the tears before it wipes up the spilled milk. Love picks up the child before it picks up the toys. Love is present through the trials. Love reprimands, reproves, and is responsive. Love crawls with the baby, walks with the toddler, runs with the child, then stands aside to let the youth walk into adulthood. Love is the key that opens salvation's message to a child's heart. Before I became a mother I took glory in my house of perfection. Now I glory in God's perfection of my child.

As a mother, there is much I must teach my child, but the greatest of all is love.

Author Unknown


 The Most Important Job in the World

 Dr. Tony Campolo is a well-known and highly-respected, inspirational speaker. Over the last several years, Tony Campolo has spent much of his time traveling around the world on speaking tours.

 Meanwhile, his wife, Peggy, has chosen to stay home and give herself and all that she has to the "Bringing Up" of their two children, Bart and Lisa. On those rare occasions when Peggy does travel with Tony, she finds herself engaged in conversations with some of the most accomplished, impressive, influential, sophisticated people in the world.

After one such trip, Peggy told Tony that sometimes as she visits with these powerful people... she finds herself feeling intimidated and sometimes even questioning her own self-worth. Tony said to her: "Well, honey, why don't you come up with something you could say when you meet people that will let them know that you strongly value what you do and you feel that it is dramatically, urgent and crucial and important.

 Well, not long after that, Tony and Peggy Campolo were at a party... when a woman said to Peggy in a rather condescending tone, "Well, my dear, what do you do?" Tony Campolo heard his wife say:

 "I am nurturing two Homo Sapiens into the dominant values of the Judaeo-Christian tradition in order that they might become instruments for the transformation of the social order into the kind of eschatological utopia God envisioned from the beginning of time."

 And the other woman said:

"O, my, I'm just a lawyer."

I like that story because it reminds us that there are a lot of important jobs in the world today but not one of them is more important than the job of being a mother.

Tony Campolo adapted by James Moore, Collected Sermons,


 All Those Preliminaries

In an old Peanuts strip, Peppermint Patty and Violet are reflecting on being a grandmother. After Patty declares that she would like to be a grandmother, Violet agrees and says it would be nice because all they have to do is "sit and rock" (not quite the case, is it?) The girls then decide that the trouble with being a grandmother is that first you have to be a wife and then a mother...and Violet sighs, "I know's all those preliminaries that get me!"

Adapted from Peanuts. Original strip run March 13, 1950. Reprinted in 2004 in The Complete Peanuts: The Definitive Collection of Charles M. Schulz's Comic Strip Masterpiece 1950-1952.


 What's a Good Mother Like?

 Judith Viorst once wrote an essay based on interviews she had with children. The subject was "What's a good mother like?"

 Viorst reports that the children expected their mother to get angry from time to time. "She has to," said Ted, "or she'll faint from holding it in."

 "But it's best to remember," said Randy, "that when your mother starts to act real weird, you have to look scared and serious. Don't giggle. When mommies are mad, they get madder if you giggle."

 "My mommy got so mad," said Megan, "that she yanked the plate off the table and all the mashed potatoes flew into the air." "And why," Viorst asked, pretending she'd never heard of such shocking behavior, "why would a mother do a thing like that?"

 "Well," said Megan, "she told my older brother, Mike, he's 11 years old, to eat the potatoes on his plate and he said 'Later.' And then she told him again to eat the potatoes and Mike said 'Soon.' And then she told him he had better eat those potatoes right now and he said, 'In a minute.' And then she stood up and Mike finally took a bite and told her, 'How can I eat them? They're cold!'"

It's not easy being a Mom.

 King Duncan,, adapting Judith Viorst, All in the Family


Unconventional Mother's Day Gifts

 This Mother's Day take a moment to think of all the mothers in the world who are in need. There are millions of women in the world living on less than a dollar a day. There are women in this country who are wondering how they are going to feed or diaper their children from day to day. There are children who need medical attention that their parents may not be able to afford. Anyone who has ever had to worry about such things can deeply sympathize. For those of us who have escaped such worries, we can only imagine the level of instinctive stress that uncertainty can provoke.

There are many ways to celebrate Mother's Day, but here are a few unconventional suggestions that will prove to your own mother that she did a good job raising you. How about dropping off a box of diapers and/or a case of formula to a local food bank or women's shelter? If you have some baby furniture or clothing that your own children have outgrown, how about donating that stuff to a local charity? Does our local hospital have a fund for children who need care? Are there doctors in our community or city who volunteer in clinics overseas who might need supplies? There are countless ways to help support Moms locally and globally. Let your own Mom know that you were thinking about her and all of the many things she provided for you along the way...and that you did a good deed in honor of her. It will make her proud.


Worse-Case Scenarios

If moms are to be faulted, it is because they love their children so much that they get irrational about it. For instance, in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin approaches his mother

Calvin: "Can Hobbes and I go play in the rain, Mom?

Mom: "No."

Calvin: "Why not?"

Mom: "You'll get soaked."

Calvin: "What's wrong with that?"

Mom: "You could catch pneumonia, run up a terrible hospital bill, linger a few months, and die."

Calvin, looking out the window at the rain: "I always forget. If you ask a mom, you get a worse-case scenario."

Hobbes: "I had no idea these little showers were so dangerous."

 Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin & Hobbes, p. 130.


The Truest Friend

A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.

Washington Irving (1783-1859)


Qualities Needed In All Moms

A panel of experts was asked to complete some sentences about their moms. What made them experts was the one thing they all had in common. They were all kindergarteners. Even though these are the words of 6 year olds I think the qualities they recognized in their moms are they qualities needed in all moms. Here are the sentences and the answers:

My mom is best at: "feeding the dog," "making my bed," "driving," "cleaning," "running," "riding a two-wheeler," "watering the garden."

If I had enough money, I'd buy her: "flowers," "a car," "a necklace," "a brand-new fan," "a kitten," "a diamond ring," "a big pack of bubble gum."

It makes me feel good inside when Mom says: "I love you," "good job," "dinnertime!" "You look handsome," "I'll buy you something."

My mom is as pretty as a -- "butterfly," "ballerina," "mouse," "princess," "my brothers," "goose," "gold ring," "a clean horse."

 By the way, one of the most memorable comments from the children on Father's Day was: Daddy gets tired out from: "chasing mommy."

Is It Well With Your Family?

 Brett Blair and Staff,


 Long Over Due

 Mother's Day was declared an annual National Holiday in 1914 by President Woodrow Wilson. He directed the Congress to designate the second Sunday of May as a special day for public expression of love and reverence for the mothers of America. Since that time there has been a "Mother's Day," and, I must say that even in 1914, it was long overdue.

R.E. Lybrand, CSS Publishing Company


Humor: Mother's Maintenance Manual

Many of us take better care of our cars then we do our mothers and yet we only expect our cars to last 5 or 6 years but we expect our mothers to last for a lifetime.

Maybe we need a maintenance manual for mothers so we would know how to take care of them at least as well as we do our automobiles.

Here are some items that might be included in such a manual.

Engine: A mother's engine is one of the most dependable kinds you can find. She can reach top speed from a prone position at a single cry from a sleeping child. But regular breaks are needed to keep up that peak performance.

Mothers need a hot bath and a nap every 100 miles, a baby-sitter and a night out every 1,000 miles, and a live in baby-sitter with a one week vacation every 10,000 miles.

Battery: Mother's batteries should be recharged regularly. Handmade items, notes, unexpected hugs and kisses, and frequent "I love you's" will do very well for a recharge.

Carburetor: When a mother's carburetor floods it should be treated immediately with Kleenex and a soft shoulder.

Brakes: See that she uses her brakes to slow down often and come to a full stop