"A Mother's Spirit"

Mother's Day is the third most-celebrated holiday in the world. Only Christmas and Easter are more popular. This big day started in the heart of Anna M. Jarvis, one of twelve Siblings and one of the only four who lived to adulthood. After her mother's death in 1905, Miss Jarvis dedicated the rest of her life to carrying out her mother's wishes for a special day to honor all mothers.

Anna Jarvis made speeches, wrote thousands of letters, traveled countless miles, and spent a fortune on the Mother's Day idea. On May l0, 1908 she organized the first Mother's Day celebration at the Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. The service ran from 8:00 a.m. until noon and included the fourfold purpose of Mother's Day:

  1. to honor our mothers,
  2. to bring families together,
  3. to make us better children,
  4. to brighten the lives of good mothers.

In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the second Sunday in May (the Sunday closest to Miss Jarvis' mother's death) should be celebrated as Mother's Day. Carnations were also included in the festive day. Miss Jarvis donated white carnations and asked people to wear a red carnation if their mother was living and a white carnation if she was dead.

When I was selecting the scripture readings for today I was drawn to the chapters of Proverbs and Galatians that were read this morning. They both spoke to me and seemed very appropriate for this day when we recognize Mother's and what their role is in God's Kingdom.

Proverbs in general paints a remarkable picture of the power of women, offering advice for what is good and what is bad. And it closes with a poem that includes our reading today, which deals with the incarnation of wisdom in a female form.

The poem speaks of a noble housewife who fears God. Her wealth, wisdom, and success are attributed to her faith. She believes that the beginning of wisdom is the belief in God as Creator and Sustainer.

As a result, all the trappings of human desire that are noble are hers. Now this specific passage speaks of a wife, but the attributes described: strength, dignity, humor, wisdom, and nobility certainly can be used to describe a mother as well.

But for me our reading from Galatians provides the greatest insight into Mother's and what they offer the world. This is not to say that this reading doesn't apply to all people, but today I want to explore the text specifically from the perspective of motherhood.

For this purpose I want to focus on verses 22 and 23. These two verses list the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit can be described as the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit in us. And the Spirit produces these character traits that are found in the nature of Christ. They are the by-products of Christ's control - we can't obtain them by trying to get them without his help. For the fruit to grow within us we must join our lives to Christ. We must know him, love him, remember him, and imitate him. And as I have observed Christian mothers over the years I have come to see the fruit of the Spirit manifest in all they do for their children and families when they are focused on Christ.

Lets take a closer look at what I'm talking about.

The Fruit of Love: Perhaps this goes without saying, but the love a mother has for a child is indescribable really, it's unconditional and all encompassing.

No matter the situation, no matter what happens, it seems nothing can break that special bond between mother and child. Oh I'm sure there are days when love isn't high on the list, but at the end of the day the mother-child bond stays intact and as the new day dawns the hard yesterdays are forgotten. This is much like the love Christ has for us isn't it.

The Fruit of Joy: There is nothing a mother likes doing more than talking about her kids. You can see the joy in their face as they talk about all the cute things their child does.

Mother's take great pride and joy in all that there kids do and this is seen in how they interact with others, as well as with the kids.

Jesus also took great pride and joy in all the things the disciples did. Yes they fell from time to time, like our children do, and like we do as well, but Jesus didn't condemn them he helped them.

The Fruit of Peace: A mother brings a sense of peace to the family, yes even on the most frantic of days. At the end of the day frantic or not, often times it's the mother who reads to their young child before bed, or talks to their older child about their day before they retire for the evening. Whether it's realized or not this process brings about a peace and calmness, which allows the child to rest so that they can be ready for another day.

Mother's seem to have this ability, even on those most stressful days, to focus on their children and to help them find peace. Jesus also had a way of bringing a sense of peace, calm, and belonging to all those he encountered.

The Fruit of Patience: When raising children, as many of you know, patience is critical. Mother's appear to have this capacity to be patient, especially with younger children. As a child learns their ABC's or begins to count for the first time, repetition is needed and patience is needed until they get it right.

As children grow into teen's patience remains important. And although our patience can run thin sometimes, Mother's seem to have this innate ability to be patient with their children, hoping they learn and understand. They never give up hope and seek to understand.

Jesus exhibited patience constantly as he was teaching his disciples. Sometimes they had a difficult time understanding, but he was patient and never gave up on them either.

The Fruit of Kindness: Mother's are always available for a kind word, or to offer a word of encouragement to their children. To children, approval of their parents is important, and mother's play a special role in encouraging their children in school and their activities. A mother is also looked to, to offer a kind word when their child is depressed or upset about something. They can always count on mom to help them through the difficult times. Jesus too could be looked to for a kind word, or word of encouragement when times were difficult or uncertain.

The Fruit of Goodness: Mother's have good moral character seeking only the things that are good and right for their children. They teach and model what is morally right and wrong, and what it means to be good in the eyes of the Lord.

This is true of Jesus too. The majority of Jesus' teaching focused on what it means to be good in the eyes of God. And Jesus constantly modeled this behavior.

The Fruit of Faithfulness: Mother's, since the beginning of time have served as the religious teachers in the family. Often an overlooked role in the Bible, Mother's were the ones who prepared their son's and daughters for their religious lives, and what it means to live faithfully, while the men were out tending fields and herds. This is still largely true today. Many of the religious leaders in the family today are the Mother's. Jesus spent a great deal of time teaching his disciples and others who came to see him. Helping others understand and grow in their faith is an important role.

The Fruit of Gentleness: When you hear the word gentleness you can't help but think of Mothers. Images of the way they hold their children, and softly speak to them as infants come to mind.

Even as these tender young babies grow up to be teenagers, Mother's are fair and are not quick to judge. Yes there are times when they blow up, but not because there is a lack of love, but just the opposite really, because they have so much love for their child they get upset when things go wrong.

And when the storm calms down, often times you see mothers sitting with their child gently trying to help them sort things out, or just offering a comforting hug. Jesus was known to blow up a time or two, but he also was quick to be gentle, and to offer help.

The Fruit of Self-Control: A mother puts her child first above her own desires, many times serving as the suffering-servant as she sacrifices for the good of the child. Mothers will give their child the benefit of the doubt more often then not, and will remain under control while trying to understand situations their child gets themselves into.

Some times, however, the protective nature of a mother kicks in which can challenge self-control and reason. But once again not for negative reasons but because of love and the desire to prepare her children to cope in this world. Jesus exhibited self-control by always put the needs of others ahead of himself, and with a few exceptions he maintained an even keel. He demonstrated an unwavering love. Jesus life was dedicated to teaching people how to live in this world.

Mother's are truly special people. And this day of remembrance offers us the opportunity to not only celebrate God's gift of motherhood, but also to remind mothers that the fruit of the spirit and their spirit can be one in the same.

Before closing I would like to share with you two amusing, but true stories I found about mothers.

After an elementary school teacher had given her class a science lesson on magnets, she gave them a quiz to see how much they had learned. One of the questions read: "My name starts with 'M,' has six letters, and I pick up things. What am I?" Half the class answered with the six-letter word, "Mother."

A little girl wanted her daddy to tell her a story. So he wove together a fine tale that involved slaves. After he finished his story, the little girl asked, "What's a slave, Daddy?" He explained it the best he could. When he was through, the little girl looked up at her dad and asked, "Is that what Mommy is?"

Mothers are many things, wear many hats, and hold a special place in God's kingdom. And all to often we don't realize how special mother's are, and we don't really understand or fully appreciate all they do until we are older. When I think about all the titles and roles one can play in this life I can't think of any role more important or any title more prestigious than that of Mother.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade