Sermon: A Salute to the Mom’s In Our Lives
Scripture Lesson John 17:6-19 and Romans 16:13
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit my mom at her care facility in the Chicagoland area. It has been a very rough year for her, so it warmed my heart to see her light up when I surprised her with a visit. Lately when we visit I like to talk about memories, particularly memories of grandmother. My great grandma Crail was also a pastor and she use to take my mom with her, as her little assistant, to prayer over the people she called on. I love hearing those stories because it connects me to my heritage and it reminds me of those powerful women who shaped my mom’s life. And in turn defined my own life and core values.
It is essential to recognize and honor those women in our lives who taught and nurtured us along our life’s journey. For many of us it is our mother’s, but I believe that it goes much further than just the nuclear family. It extends to those important women in our life’s who offered us love and grace.
In the 16th Chapter of Romans there are twenty-six people who Paul singles out for his personal greeting, of those six were women. I think it 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.
Paul writes in Romans 16:13: “Give my greetings to Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” Now this short statement tells a great deal. Paul was saying: “I salute Rufus and his mother, who is like a mother to me.”
This statement 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?
The author of Mark’s gospel tells us that Simon of Cyrene, the man who carried Jesus cross, had two sons: Alexander and Rufus. This is the same Rufus to whom Paul was speaking. And his mother would be Simon of Cyrene’s wife. She must have been an incredible woman and from Paul’s testimony she served as a mother figure to him. Consequently, this short verse makes an excellent springboard for today’s Mother’s Day message.
Unfortunately, some people ridicule Mother’s Day as a lot of sentimental fluff. 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 or that they don’t want to hurt the feelings of those women who are not mother’s in the traditional sense. Some are reluctant to celebrate Mother’s Day fearing that they would alienate those whose mothers were not present for them.
Yes, there are women today who abandon, abuse, and corrupt their children and who create a poor model, those individuals in my opinion are the exceptions to the rule. Most mothers do the right thing and deserve recognition. So, this morning I would to salute all of the mothers out there, as well as those special women in our lives who demonstrated for us love and grace.
Let us look at, and salute. those women who have nurtured us along the way
- First, mothers should be saluted for their tenacious love. And I think I have chosen my words carefully. Tenacious is exactly the word that I want to use.
Let me give you an example. Admittedly this is anecdotal and not statistical, but I have certainly found this to be true in my own experience as I go around and make hospital calls. Hospital rooms wear out fathers a whole lot quicker than they do mothers. Fathers become impatient and go in and out, but mothers stick it out. As a general rule I have found this to be true over and over. There is a bull doggedness about a mother’s love that simply cannot be denied.
Perhaps the poet comes closer to the meaning of life more than any of us. Rudyard Kipling writes:
If I were hanged on the highest hill, I know whose love would follow me still. Mother of mine. Mother of mine. If I were drowned in the deepest sea, I know whose tears would come down to me. Mother of mine, Mother of mine. If I were damned by body and soul, I know whose prayers would make me whole. Mother of mine, mother of mine.
There was an interesting story on CNN a while about a twenty-five year old man in San Francisco who was dying of aids. Because he was gay his father had completely disowned him. His mother was dead. So there was nobody. The man looked like he could not weigh over a hundred pounds and had the look of death on his face.
The reporter asked him how he was able to stand all of the pain, not only of death, but the pain of family rejection. He gave an interesting answer. He said I stand it by closing my eyes and imagining that I will awaken in the arms of my mother. I know that she will never leave my side.
I tell you friends, long after some fathers have disowned their children a mother will still be there. There is a tenacity there that we must salute.
- Secondly, I think that mother’s need to be saluted for the tremendous impact that they have had on the lives of each and every one of us.
That same type of influence can be seen in other individuals. Many scholars have concluded that you cannot really understand John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, unless you understand his mother Susanna Wesley. She was so instrumental in his life that she inevitably affected the movement and its direction. Americans know that Abraham Lincoln led this nation through perhaps its time of greatest crisis; but who was it that made Abraham Lincoln the man that he was? I know what Lincoln thought. He said it was his mother.
I would submit to you this morning that there is not a person sitting here that in one, five, ten, a thousand different ways has not been forever influenced by their mother. I firmly believe that you cannot understand who a person is and what motivates them until you understand their past. And you cannot understand a person’s past without understanding the source that co-created that person along with God—their parents.
- Third, I would salute mothers because where they are that is where home is.
A minister was visiting a family who had just moved to Memphis from Baltimore, Maryland. The minister asked the man if he was originally from Baltimore and he said: No, family transferred around quite frequently and there is really no one place that I can say was home. Then he said something I shall never forget. He said: I suppose that wherever mother was that is where home was.
Wherever mother is that is where home is. Maybe a lot of us can identify with that. A house is a physical place. A home is where our loved ones are gathered.
Wherever I wander; wherever I roam; wherever mother is; there is home.
It is appropriate that we single out a day in the year to recognize mothers, but when we really think about it, there ought not to be a day that goes by that we do not rise up and call our mother blessed. The highest tribute that we can give to our mothers is not to praise her, not to give her a gift, not to pay a visit, and not even simply to come to church on her day. The greatest tribute that we can give to our mother is to be the kind of person that she, and our Heavenly Father, want us to be. Amen