The Gift Of MaternitySeries: Mother's Day
THE GIFT OF MATERNITY
Sermon By Terry Siverd / May 10, 2020 / Cortland Church of Christ
Good morning to each one of you. I am coming to you once again from my study in my home. This is now the eighth Sunday in a row that we as a church have been unable to gather. Our elders had previously announced that we would aim to resume our Sunday AM assembly on May 17th, however that return-to-worship date has now been revised to Sunday, June 7th.
Happy Mother's Day to all of our Mom's. These are not ideal conditions for dining out, but maybe we can make the best of a difficult situation - - celebrating in ways and means not normally considered.
The sacred Scriptures abound with exhortations directing us to HONOR OUR MOTHER.
Located in the middle of the ten commandments is commandment #5, recorded in Ex.20:12 - - honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. Implied in the second half of this commandment is the notion that God would not bless His children if they failed to honor their mother: their days would be neither quantitative nor qualitative. In Eph.6:1-2, the apostle Paul reaffirms the vitality and centrality of this commandment. He adds, this is the first commandment with a promise.
Having been cooped up for the last 2½ months has opened up for us avenues of reflection. Perhaps this has proven to be a serendipitous benefit of this pandemic - - in being shut up we have been forced to sit down - - to be still and ponder things. This stay-at-home directive was enacted in mid-March. My mother's birthday was on March the 31st and she passed away on March 4th, 2010. My father passed away on May 5th, 2004. I've been thinking about them both quite a bit of late.
Cindy Clark sent a card to Jeannie this past Wednesday. It contained a little “love packet”. I don't know if she was thinking about mother's day when she sent it, but it tied in perfectly with some of my sermon thoughts for this mother's day. The love packet contained six items: a rubber band to remind us to give tight hugs to those we love … a piece of candy to remind us to spread sweetness wherever we go … a tissue to help dry a tear … a bandaid to help hurt feelings … a copper penny to remind us to share God's gifts … and a prayer to remind us to look to God. I have published this prayer in today's FamilyMatters news & notes on our church web site. I want to challenge us all to pray this prayer daily throughout this week. Dear God, please give me the strength to endure this situation, and to find the blessings and lessons that it contains. Please give me the endurance to continue ahead. Please guide my thoughts, words and actions, so that I may walk Your path of peace and love.
Last Sunday our sermon title was, The Gift Of Song. This morning's sermon is titled, The Gift Of Maternity. Motherhood is a precious gift, given by God to many of you women. But maternity is also a gift, given by God to all of us - - OUR MOMS ARE THE GIFTS.
Proverbs 31 is a familiar text that we preachers often reference in our mother's day sermons. When we cite this text, more often than not, we begin our reading at vs.10ff. Coincidentally, with my mom's birthday being 03-31-31, Proverbs 31:31 offers an apt summary: give her the product of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.
What we preacher's seldom reference is the first verse of Proverbs 31. We typically associate the book of Proverbs with King Solomon (Prov.1:1), but Prov.31 is an exception. Prov.31 begins with this preface: the words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him. In this instance the word “oracle” does not describe a prophecy per se, simply a word of wisdom. I want to use this thought as a trampoline to bounce around with some random thoughts about our moms. Our mothers are many things, but first and foremost they are our TEACHERS. I want to get personal this morning, but I'm hoping you'll use it as a template to also get personal - - to think about your own mother and thank God for all that she has meant to you.
My mother influenced me for good in so many ways.
My mom was an avid reader - - her stack of stuff by her rocker always include multiple books, ever-changing. Like her, sometimes I find myself reading two or three or more books, all at the same time. She went to the Kingsville library frequently and always came back with a bag of books. My mom was a student of the Word. She read her Bible often. And she was diligent in seeing to it that we did our Sunday school lessons. She encouraged me to memorize lots of Scriptures.
My mom was a wonderful visitor. If there was a widow at church, my mom was her friend. My mom was also drawn to the older ladies in our neighborhood (3 or 4 ladies on a street with 12 houses). She treated them with kindness and was thoughtful, nurturing and compassionate.
My mom was a strong advocate for anybody who was an “underdog”. If someone was down & out, she was up & about and eager to support them. She had a really good heart. She had a stockpile of return address labels. She couldn't say “no” to solicitations for help: Veterans groups … St. Jude's … Cancer society … etc.. She wrote volumes of letters of encouragement to family, friends and fellow Christians. As soon as I would get home from school, she would ask me to run a letter out to the mailbox by the street. She took in numerous foster children - - she couldn't stand the thought of a child unloved.
My mom was a constant giver. She knew well the words of Acts 20:35 - - it is more blessed to give than to receive. She was a wonderful gift-giver, very thoughtful and methodical in searching for the right gift. She wasn't a total pushover. If you tried to take advantage of her generosity, she had some bite.
A group of 2nd-graders were once asked some questions by their teacher. WHY did God made mothers? - - She's the only one who knows where the scotch tape is. HOW did God made mothers? - - Magic plus super powers and a lot of stirring. WHAT INGREDIENTS are moms made of? - - God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
My mother was a woman of faith, like Timothy's grandma Lois and mother Eunice (2Tim.1:5). If I could adapt 1Tim.1:5 just a little in regards to my mom it would read: the goal of (her) instruction (was) love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
What I'm about to tell you is painful for me. I have shared this story in the past, but I want to share it again. About six weeks before my mother died, she was in the ER at the hospital. They wanted to do a bunch of tests and mom said, “I'm sooo tired and I don't want any more tests.” I understood how she felt. Sensing the gravity of her illness, she went on to say, “I want to be cremated like Dad.” Again, I understood. But then she said, “You don't need to have a memorial service for me.” I was taken aback. I argued, telling her there was no way we would not celebrate her life. I stepped out of the room and wept. It broke my heart to think that my mother might have felt herself unworthy of applause. Did she not realize that it would be impossible for us to refrain from honoring her good life? We were compelled to disregard her request and we went on to have a beautiful memorial service for her.
At that stage of her life, my mother had grown quite weary. She was a lovely woman, accomplished in so many ways, yet she sometimes suffered from an inferiority complex. She almost died from a ruptured uterus giving birth to my youngest sister. Shortly after that, she was diagnosed with breast cancer that resulted in a disfiguring surgery. Like her mother, her old body was taxed with multiple ailments. My dad had died six years prior and his memorial was the largest gathering ever at the Ashtabula church. A huge crowd. Workmates & friends sharing testimonies. I think my mom was feeling intimidated. She wasn't neglected. She knew she was profoundly loved. I think she was just feeling really sad. Perhaps she felt she dwelt in dad's shadow. Yet, when I reflect on this event, I can't help but ask, “Did we (her children) not properly (fully and profusely) convey to her our deep love and affection?”
Prov.23:25 states, Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her rejoice who gave birth to you.
In speaking to you about the importance of being grateful for your mother, I have been about as candid as I can be this morning, Time has a way of racing onward. We sometimes neglect the people nearest and dearest to us. My closing exhortation is simply this: Don't wait 'til its too late. Love you mother today and everyday. Honor her daily in a host of ways. Tell her often how much you love and appreciate her.
Dear Heavenly Father, We thank You for the rich blessings that have come to us from our precious mothers - - not just the gift of life itself, but the many lessons they have taught us in word and deed about how to live. Give us the wisdom we need to communicate the depth of our love to our mothers. Bless our dear mothers. May our lives contribute to their happiness. Grant them a steady sense of peace and joy in a world where such is often elusive and fleeting. Through Christ, Who Loved His Mother Dearly, we pray. Amen.