I thought I’d post this for anyone needing help with a Mother’s Day Sermon. This is (pretty much) the sermon I’ll be sharing at George Street UMC this coming Sunday. This was originally given in 2oo4, just 4 months after my mother passed away. In its original form it was as much personal testimony and tribute as it was a sermon. I pray that God speaks to you through these words that He’s given me.
Our scripture comes from Paul’s second letter to Timothy – 2 Timothy 1:1-5. Paul wrote this letter to Timothy from a Roman prison and most scholars believe that this was the last letter Paul would write before he was executed.
(read 2 Timothy 1:1-5)
We first meet Timothy in Acts, chapter 16, verses 1 and 2 as Paul is beginning his second missionary journey.
(read Acts 16:1-2)
“We” meet Timothy here, but Paul probably met him 3-4 years earlier on his first missionary journey through Lystra, and now he is so delighted to see Timothy’s spiritual growth. Also, we see “He was well spoken of by the brethren…” This is much like Christ’s growth as the Scriptures tell us that “He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.”
Timothy, you might say, was a “good boy,” we find out why in 2 Timothy. He had good “raisin’s.” We don’t know a lot about Timothy’s parents, except that his mother was Jewish, and his father was Greek. Many believe that his father was either dead, or had left his mother, which is why they were living with his grandmother. And as little as we know about his parents, we know even less about his grandmother except that she had a “sincere faith.” She taught her daughter well, and she taught her grandson well. And that’s all we know about her.
There are many instances in the Bible where we see the results of faithful teaching without knowing much about who was actually doing the teaching, or who might have been doing the teaching in the background. For instance, when Nehemiah kneeled before King Artaxerxes and requested permission to return to Jerusalem, we only read about Artaxerxes granting it with very little questioning. And not only that, but Artaxerxes sends him with enough provisions to rebuild the city walls. Why did he do that? God’s prompting? Yes, but most likely God worked through someone. You see, King Artaxerxes’ step-mother was Queen Esther. Remember the story of Esther, and this passage from the book of Esther? “Who knows but that you are in this place for such a time as this?” I believe she was there for more than one reason. She was there to teach the young king. The Bible admonishes us to teach the scriptures to our children and grandchildren. But of course, not everyone does.
Another interesting thing about Old Testament mothers is to read through the books of Kings and Chronicles and see how many times a king’s mother’s name is given. Some of the very good kings had mothers who were daughters of priests. In these cases, even though the king’s father may have been an evil king, his mother had great influence on the son and he became a Godly king. Funny how much influence these mothers had on the kingship and nation of Judah.
Paul says later in this letter to Timothy that Timothy was taught the scriptures from childhood.
Timothy was fortunate; he had a good grounding in the faith. And I am fortunate; I have had a good grounding in the faith as well. You see, the greatest single influence on my walk with God was my Mother. It’s funny – that never occurred to me until she died. I never realized how much of what, and how I believe, was taught to me as a child.
I don’t know how my Mother came to be saved. She just always was. I don’t remember my grandparents going to Church, but I never remember Mother missing.
She was a devoutly Christian woman. She wasn’t perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination, but her attitude toward God was nearly so.
I’m an “idea” person, but she would never let me call my ideas “brainstorms”. I had to call them “inspirations.” She truly believed that every good thing came from God. And I can never, ever remember being told “That’ll never work. You can’t do that. It won’t work.” She and Daddy believed in me and supported me.
She held nearly every position within the Church at some point. I grew up having Bible readings every night before bed and prayer before every meal, no matter where we were, no matter who was present.
We’ve always had a tradition in the church where I grew up, that on Mother’s Day, you’d wear a red flower if your mother was alive, or a white one if she wasn’t. Well, since my Mother died, I’ve refused to wear just a white rose, because I believe that she is alive in Christ – so I wear both on Mother’s Day.
All of us have mothers. It’s a biological fact. All of us, here, have “faith mothers” as well. I was very fortunate in that mine was one and the same. But, I’ve had many other “faith mothers” within the churches that I’ve been a part of, too. And I often think of them – each with their own special personality and gifts.
I wrote a poem a few years ago titled “The Saints”, and as a woman, most of the “saints” that I remember were women. Some of them were physical mothers, but all were “faith mothers.” I finally put this feeling to paper after a dear lady in one of our churches passed away in 1996.
From since my days of childhood,
there have always been those saints,
I’ve tried so hard to emulate,
though my efforts fairly faint,
when compared to their deeds.
They may have played the piano,
or maybe taught a class,
or maybe smiled at children,
or maybe never passed
someone in need.
They may have always spoken out,
or ne’er had much to say.
Sometimes a quiet presence
touches hearts the deepest way.
But whatever was their manner,
and GOD makes no two the same,
we somehow can’t imagine
without their name.
Who’ll be left to carry on?
Who’ll be left to fill the pew?
Who’ll be left to do the things
we depend on them to do?
I know that every generation
has had a childhood,
and watched the saints.
And every generation
feels their efforts
too, are faint.
Then, every generation
becomes the saints in turn.
And childhood eyes are watching them,
with eager minds to learn
the ways of GOD.
And so the awesome task is laid
upon unready hearts.
As GOD calls Saints to their reward,
this earthly cycle starts,
Past Saints are never forgotten though,
their wisdom; a gift from GOD.
As we face the challenge before us,
we tread where Saints have trod.
Who’s your “faith mother”? Who did you watch, and listen to as a child and as a young adult? Who are you still watching? Your “faith mother” doesn’t have to be older “age-wise”, just older “faith-wise.”
As I’ve studied the book of Acts, and the letters of Paul, it has amazed me the number of times that women are specifically mentioned as becoming believers. (Acts 17:4, 12 for example.) And just think, these are all “faith mothers.” As Paul writes to Titus, another young preacher, he instructs how older men and older women are to be teaching the younger ones. I believe that this not only refers to older in age, but also older in wisdom and experience.
So, on this Mother’s Day, think about your “faith mother.” But in addition to that, and more importantly ladies, think about whose “faith mother” are you? Who’s looking to you for guidance and direction? Who could be looking to you, and you don’t even know they’re looking? What are you teaching, by word or example? You don’t have to be a mother to be a “faith mother.” You don’t even have to be well known to be a “faith mother.” You just have to have faith. And be willing to share it. Will you do that?
Let us pray:
Father, thank You for Mothers. Thank You, that in Your infinite wisdom You created us and allowed us to share in creation ourselves. We are amazed and awed, and more than a little humbled.
Father, thank You also for “faith Mothers.” Those special women that You have placed in our lives. Thank You that they were faithful to Your Word.
Now grant us, as mothers and “faith mothers” wisdom and courage that we may indeed be faithful.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Will you do that? Will you be someone’s “faith mother?” But if you have no faith, no story, no “grounding” what will you share? Romans 10: 17 says, “So then, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Pick up that Word of God. Become someone’s “faith mother.” Make that commitment today.
And if you don’t know Christ, man or woman, He’s calling today. Your “faith mother” is praying for you…