My Two Families
At our last deacon meeting, when I asked for some feedback on my preaching, one of the deacons suggested that it would be nice to have sermons to fit the occasion on days like Mothers and Fathers Day. I thought this was a reasonable suggestion, and probably a wise one.
We are sharing about Mother's Day this morning, but there are several holidays we will not be celebrating that also take place on May 8 and 9th. For instance, did you know that today is National Tear Your Tag of the Mattress Day? Or that it is also Peter Pan day? Ahhhhhhh. The things the internet can teach you.
Anyway, our first Scripture for this sermon Pete already read for us at the beginning of the service. It is the famous passage from Proverbs 31 about the faithful woman. The other is this passage, which talks about a different kind of mother and a different kind of family.
Before that, I would like to share a little joke with you:
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You."
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother."
I am blessed with a good mother. A mother that far and above the call of duty to love me and my sister to care for us. She had limited resources to work with. Although we went without some of the toys we wanted, mom always worked and scrounged and struggled to make sure we were never without what we needed. She often did what she did for us as a single-parent, and yet there was often more love and joy in our home than in any traditional family.
One of the things I have admired most about my mother is her ability to balance relationships and task. Something I do not do nearly as well as she does. My mom still keeps in touch with people from her life from grade school. I can name three or four people from my elementary years, and half of them are people I got in fist fights with. Another third of them are relatives.
My mother lost her job as a office manager in a doctor's office in a recession much like the one we are experiencing now. She scrambled to get any work she could find. Eventually, she decided to go back to school to become an elementary teacher. It just so happens that around the school there was more work than there was in the town we had lived in before.
My mother went to school, worked long hours with her job, coached my sister's softball team, and still found time to make heart –shaped pancakes for us on Valentine's Day mornings with M&Ms in them before we went to school.
When she first began in school she tried to do her homework for her classes while we were still awake. She found herself being short-tempered and frustrated with us kids for interrupting her schoolwork. Then she made a decision. No homework until the kids were asleep. Once we were in bed, then she could begin her study time for her full-time load of classes. That way she could do the work she needed to do, and still offer the love to her children that they needed.
So, you will have to pardon me, if when I read the passage on the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31, I think that is my time to speak up and tell you about the blessing my mother is, my time to rise up and call my mother blessed. I am sure if you were in my position this morning, you might do the same thing.
There are a lot of things that remind me of my mother when I read Proverbs 31. The law of kindness is on her lips. She works late into the night. She is wise.
Yet, there are things in Proverbs 31 that are not descriptive of my mother. In particular, as a single parent, all the stuff about the wifey kind of things are not true of her. I am sure with your wife, your children, your grandparents, you can find things in Proverbs 31 that fit your special loved ones.
Proverbs 31, though is a description of a perfect woman. A perfect woman that a wise father wants his son to marry. It is, in essence, a position description of the ideal wife and mother. Nobody fits it completely. Nobody measures up to this standard perfectly.
Proverbs 31 is important because it shows us the character of a kind of woman that is a blessing to her husband and her children. Hard working. Industrious. Kind. Wise. Compassionate. Strong. Decisive.
The kind of mother I had. The kind of wife that I married as well.
It is important that we honor these kinds of parents, friends, mothers, and wives in our lives. Not only on Mother's Day, but throughout our lives.
We should not wait until a death bed or a funeral to rise up and bless those selfless, loving people in our lives. The Scripture says that her husband and children will rise up and call the virtuous woman a blessing. To them. To others. To their community and the world.
So often we fail as children, as spouses, as friends, to let people know how we admire them and how much they matter to us. Don't do that. Bless your mothers and your wives. Not just this day, but every day. Let them know how much they matter to you. Let them know that you see them, and the good that they have done.
Be thankful for the family you were born into biologically. Obey the Scripture and honor your father and mother. It is one of the Ten Commandments after all.
Then there is this other passage that I just read. It is a passage about Jesus, his biological family, and his faith family.
Jesus' family was standing outside of a place where he was teaching and leading. He was getting started in his ministry. In the process he was making a few enemies. His teaching was considered liberating by some, crazy by others, and dangerous by many.
Someone had gotten in touch with Jesus family while he was on the road healing, teaching about the kingdom of God standing against the powers of this world. He was saying he was the Lord of the Sabbath. He was saying that the prophecies of old about the Son of Man were about Him. The Pharisees thought they would kill him. Someone had convinced Jesus' family that he was a little unstable. He needed a little time out. A little rehab.
They told Jesus his family wanted to spend some time with Him. They wanted him to suspend his mission and his teaching for some time out with mom and the brothers.
Jesus said, "Who are my mothers, and sisters, and brothers. They that do the will of the father are my mother, my sister, and my brothers."
It was at that moment of crisis and opportunity that Jesus began to teach us a truth that is developed throughout the New Testament. We not only have a biological family, we have a faith family. We have brothers and sisters, and yes even mothers in our churches. People that come along side us and nurture us and guide us, grow us and sometime scold us, and help us to mature in our faith and in our relationships in God's family.
It is important that we honor those women as well. The women whose relation to us in through the church and the Holy Spirit, who live and serve and demonstrate the power of the family of God among us.
Some of you have taught Sunday School to our children for years, being a non-resident and non-related mother to handfuls of people for years. We rise up and call you blessed.
Some of you have made us casseroles when we were sick and nursed us back to health when our family had passed away and was far away. We rise up and call you blessed.
Some of you have spent time with us when we were lonely. We wondered if we mattered to anyone. We learned we mattered to you and to God. We rise up and call you blessed as well.
Some of you have prayed for us late at night, woke up worrying about us early in the morning, hoping that in some way or somehow something would reach us with God's love and his grace. You have no idea how much of a difference you have made for us. You are a blessing.
I don't know about you, but today I feel rich. I have a mother with me that I have not spent mother's day with for over 20 years. And I know that I am blessed. Then I look out and see sisters and mothers in Christ, who have also been more of a blessing to myself, my wife, and my yet to be born baby girl than I could ever begin to imagine or expect. And I know that I am blessed.
The thing is, I look around, and I know that you are blessed too. Let those mothers and wives, as well as those mothers in faith know how much you appreciate them today. It is what the family of the virtuous woman did in Proverbs. It is what you have the opportunity to do today. Seize the day. Amen.