Oh, Mama!

May 3rd, 2011
Image © Barbara Van De Velde | Dreamstime.com

This Sunday is Mothers’ Day. Particularly at church, it seems, this holiday gets carried off with a certain ceremony; people dress differently, wear roses on their lapels, create special crafts in Sunday school, and race with people from other churches to restaurants overbooked with lunch reservations. Those who are fortunate enough to enjoy adult relationships with their mothers gain an extra appreciation of the degree of care they were provided as children. Those who experienced the double blessing of a mother who lived as an example of Christian discipleship often return that blessing upon their own children and are moved to play a similar role in the lives of children who may not be as fortunate. Moms are often a gift that keeps on giving, so to speak.

It would almost make more sense to reverse the way we celebrate Mother’s Day. Wouldn’t it be nicer to simply cut them loose for a day? Give them twenty-four straight hours to be off of the family radar? No obligations, no schedule: “Mom, just go do whatever you want.” What happens on Mother’s Day stays on Mother’s Day, to borrow a phrase. Our alternative Mother’s Day agenda falls apart on a single point: Most of the moms we celebrate actually want to be with their families on their special day.

Poof, You’re a Mom

Mother’s Day in the United States was created in the early twentieth century by Anna Jarvis, in memory of her mother. In 1914, by a joint resolution of both houses of Congress and a proclamation from President Woodrow Wilson, Mother’s Day became an official holiday. But annual celebrations of mothers date back to ancient times. The Romans celebrated Matronalia, a celebration of mothers (and all women). For several centuries Christians in Europe have celebrated Mothering Sunday on the fourth Sunday of Lent. But regardless of what holidays have been established, there have always been mothers who deserve to be celebrated.

We see these great moms in the pages of Scripture. The Bible gives us story after story about moms who were worth much more than a one-day-per-year celebration. These mothers persevered through travel, famine, oppression—some even through conflict with other moms married to the same husband. Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

Scripture introduces us to Sarah and Elizabeth, two women who were childless and past their childbearing years. The news of their pregnancies (see Genesis 18:1-14 and Luke 1:5-24, respectively) came as a shock to their families. God scolded Sarah when she laughed in disbelief at the news. And Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah was rendered mute for nine months after he questioned the angel Gabriel’s prophecy that Elizabeth would give birth to a son. The Bible also tells us about Mary, who wasn’t yet married when she learned that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. The news of Mary’s pregnancy not only jeopardized her relationship with her future husband but also her life. According to Deuteronomy 22:13-21, she could have been stoned to death. All of these women demonstrated incredible faith throughout their pregnancies and into the lives of their children: Isaac, John the Baptist, and Jesus.

Thanks, Mom

We can learn to be open and faithful to God’s leading from the lives and examples of biblical mothers such as Sarah, Mary, and Elizabeth. Just think of the holes there would be in our faith story if these moms had refused to follow God’s leading. We never know what impact our spiritual obedience will have down the road; there is no lack of stories about faithful people who never saw the fruit of their actions. But we have in Scripture the model of obeying, trusting, and following God, even if we don’t know what the future will bring. Sometimes that obedience is its own reward. Thanks, Mom(s).

This article is also published as part of LinC, a weekly digital resource for youth small groups and Sunday school classes. The complete study guide can be purchased and downloaded here.

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