Women and mothers in the Bible (Mother’s Day)

Good morning, Friends! Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers and grandmothers.
Today is a day with a lot of emotion attached to it. We also want to love and honor all the people who want to be mothers some day.

We want to pray and be with all the families who can’t be parents for some reason, and for all those who have lost a child.

We love our moms, but we don’t always get along with them. There’s just a lot of emotions tied up with the day.

In honor of Mother’s Day, I want us to look at a few different places where mothers are honored and mentioned in the Bible. You may not have thought of all these as “Mother’s Day” Scriptures.

The first one I want us to look at is right at the beginning of the Bible, in the first chapter of Genesis.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27

The first thing to remember is that we are all made in God’s own image and likeness. We are male and female, but one isn’t better than the other. We share the likeness of God.

God loves us. We are among the best things God ever created! God loves us, and if we share God’s likeness and image, we are created to love. Whenever we love, we share in who God is and in what God does.

The other thing to remember, is that we were made for each other. God made the first people to be partners and helpers. That’s why we’re here. God didn’t make us to rule over each other or treat each other badly.

God made us to fulfill each other, for each of us to try to supply what the other one needs. When we don’t do that, we’re missing out on one of the greatest gifts that God ever intended. God wants us to love and help each other.

Now, let’s read another piece from the Bible. This time, I’m reading from the book of Exodus, chapter 20.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

Exodus 20:12

This is another favorite Scripture for Mother’s Day. It’s one of the Ten Commandments. That means we’re supposed to take it seriously.

I always say that God doesn’t command anything if it’s something we’d do anyway. God doesn’t command things because they’re easy.

Sometimes honoring your mom or your dad is hard. Sometimes it’s one of the hardest things we can ever do.

There are still things I do today, that I only do, because my mother told me to, many years ago. It’s like I hear her voice, inside my head, or in my heart.

It’s not just stuff like “wash behind your ears”, which I hope by now I’d do anyway. But there’s lots of things I was raised to do, and continue to do, to honor my mom.

In our family, we weren’t raised to say “sir” and “ma’am” the way children are raised around here.

But at the supper table, we always stood by our chairs, until my mother sat down, and one of us always helped her.

It was never explained to us in so many words, but we honored my mom, for making the supper, and for all she did for all of us.

And even if we didn’t always do exactly what Mom said, we always listened to her. We paid attention to her. Even when were all grown up, her love and advice were so important to us all.

Even when my mom was old and the roles got reversed, when we became the caregivers and she depended on us to help make the decisions about things – she was still Mom. We could never forget that. The honor continues, throughout our lives, and even after.

I want to read you just a little of a poem from the Bible. I know this passage is going to be read in a lot of churches today for Mother’s Day.

It’s from the last chapter in the book of Proverbs. I won’t read you the whole thing, because it’s too long. But there’s something about it that we don’t get when we read it in English.

In Hebrew, each verse of the reading starts with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. It’s like, the first letter of the first word in the first verse starts with A, then B, then C, and so on.

It’s really a Jewish Mother’s Day poem, or a tribute to the strength and wisdom and love of the perfect mother in Bible times.

Who can find such a woman? She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her; with her, he lacks nothing.

She is good to him, never bad, all the days of their life.
She spins and weaves, her hands are skilled;
She’s like a great ship, filled with good things.

She gets up before dawn and sees the family fed;
She cares for the family’s wealth, and makes it grow.
She is strong and active.
Her lamp doesn’t go out at night.

She opens her arms to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy.
Her family are warmly clothed in winter, their beds are warm
Because of her, her husband is respected.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:10-29

I don’t need to say anything more about that one. I also don’t need to say very much about our next Scripture reading. It’s from 1st Corinthians 13, and it’s one which I’ve heard at almost every wedding I’ve ever been to.

Actually, there is something I want to say about this one. One of my teachers, Tom Mullen, told us that when he and his wife got married, every night, when they went to bed, they would repeat 1st Corinthians 13 to each other. It was kind of like their special thing as newlyweds.

Trouble is, they were in married student housing, and the walls between the apartments were really thin. After a few weeks, the couple in the next apartment pounded on the wall, and shouted to them, “Would you mind to please read something else for a change?”
He said it made them wonder what else they’d heard!

Anyway, here’s the important part:

Love is patient; love is kind; love isn’t envious, or boastful, or arrogant, or rude. Love doesn’t insist on its own way; love isn’t irritable; love keeps no record of wrongs; love doesn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

And, as Paul reminds at the end of that chapter, at the end of our life, there are only three things left: faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these three, is love.

I’ve got just two more Scriptures to share with you for Mother’s Day today. They’re both good ones.

The first is a familiar one, from John chapter 15, and we don’t usually think of it as a Mother’s Day Scripture, but it is.

Jesus said: No one has any greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for another. . .

John 15:13

If you stop and think about it, that’s what many mothers do. More than anyone else, they lay down their lives for their children, and their family.

They give up so much, of time, and labor, and everything. It may not be the dramatic giving up of someone dying, but it’s a sacrifice all the same.

All too often, we take our mothers for granted. We don’t even think about what they do for us. But it’s so much, and it’s so real.

We can never repay what most mothers do. Except we try to love them back. And we try to do the same, for our own kids, and for every child and for every family, who needs some more love.

Let’s finish with one last Scripture. And again, you may not think of this as a Mother’s Day Scripture. It’s from another letter that Paul wrote.

This is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Many of us have been blessed to learn and experience these things. A lot of the time, we discover these things at home. And a lot of the time, the person who shows us these things, is our mother, or our grandmother.

Whenever these things are present – love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control – whenever these things are present, we know that the Holy Spirit is here with us.

And so often, the one who teaches us first and best about the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Christ, the Spirit of God – is our mother.

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