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Mother's Day (Romans 16:1-16)

Rev. Dr. William A. LewisRev. Dr. William A. Lewis, May 14, 2017

A six-year-old boy got separated from his mother in a supermarket and began to call out frantically, “Martha, Martha!” His mother came running quickly. She asked, “Why did you call me Martha instead of Mommy?” He said, “The store is full of Mommy’s.”
Our world is full of mothers. Mother’s Day is celebrating our moms. We have great moms and cool stepmoms and surrogate mothers who took care of us with their care even though they were not related to us.
Mother’s Day can be a complicated holiday. Some had moms who never worked through the pain of their lives and brought their dysfunction to us. But then again, many of us didn’t do the job we wanted to with our kids, caused damage and regret it deeply. So today we do what the Bible says and rejoice with those who weep. Heaven will be an amazing experience when all relationships are made right and healed.
Mother’s Day is an opportunity to celebrate the women in our lives. Genesis 1:27 refers to male and female; He created them in His image. Women have something of God’s nature men do not possess.
Glenn Frey from The Eagles said, “Besides three guitar cords—everything else I learned in life was from women.” I resonated with that statement. I grew up with a single mom for most of my childhood, then had influential women professors, female bosses, strong girl “best friends,” lady mentors, incredible women staff, and a gifted, extremely intelligent wife.
The fact is we need women. A comedian did a routine explaining a how a man needs women. The proof is to leave him alone and watch how many bad decisions he will make. I know I got in trouble a lot. “William, Elijah said he had pizza for breakfast? He’s three!” “William, do you think it’s wise to drop the kids from the ceiling so they can bounce high off the couch?” “William, Elijah said you both watched the Predator movie? It’s probably not appropriate for a 4-year-old to watch people’s spinal cords yanked out of their bodies!”
The whole point of Adam and Eve is man by himself is inadequate. Adam needed someone to partner with him. When a woman has to do all the work at home after she gets home from work means a man has not married a wife, but just changed mothers. These men aren’t looking for life partners but personal servants. And, by the way, real women don’t have hot flashes; they have power surges. Beware!
God put women in charge of the household, where the most important character forming takes place. I was talking to an old guy who was reminiscing about better days when the T.V. had shows like “Ozzie and Harriet,” “Leave it to Beaver” and “The Brady Bunch.” I told him I grew up watching similar shows: Ozzie, and Beavis and the Bundy family.
Today, it seems all of Satan’s tactics are aimed at the home: immorality, abortion, militant feminism, juvenile delinquency. The home is more important since school has moved God out and now teaches our kids about sex education. Today’s standards are free sex, with abstinence a thing of the past. Parents lectured me for telling their kids to wait to have sex until they got married. I was supposed to tell them: “Be careful and use condoms.”
Moms are the core of the household. The source of manners, they bind our emotional wounds, lift sagging spirits, listen without judgement, teach forgiveness, model selflessness, and show us love in more than a feeling, but a lifestyle.
Moms sacrifice for their kids. Remember when the mothers appeared before King Solomon and the king said, “I will cut the child in half.” The true child’s mother said, “No king, let her have him.” The real mom would rather have her son taken away than harmed.
Old school women stayed home, but women in my generation populate the working world. This describes the Proverbs 31 woman: she has a business, is involved in marketplace deals, sells real estate, helps the poor, provides for her family, encourages her man. Wives can be good encouragers. It’s like when I made a mistake and told my wife “I’m a perfect idiot.” She said, “Nobody’s perfect.”
Today’s woman is under the scrutiny of images made by professional makeup artists; your value is based on your looks.
Professional business women make you feel like you are a nobody if you decide to stay at home. Those who volunteer make you feel like you don’t measure up if you are not doing more.
A woman’s role is hard to define today. When my daughter was looking through our wedding album she asked, “Is this the day mommy came to work for us?
In my house, my wife is everyone’s favorite person, including the dogs; everyone wants her attention. Women make the family function. They are the spiritual and nurturing heartbeat of the household. Moms are often the family chauffeurs, driving us to our events and also driving the direction of our lives. A Spanish proverb says, “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.”
In Matthew 20, James and John’s mother asks Jesus if her boys could sit on His right and left in heaven. I’ve never looked at this passage from a mother’s eyes before. Rather than a presumptuous request, she wants her children to be part of Christ’s kingdom. She wants to ensure her kids are part of the kingdom of God. What good is it if our children are successful and make money and drive fine automobiles and live in nice houses. Yet, they gain the whole world but lose their souls? It’s a mom’s spiritual burden to go to the throne of God and pray for her children.
John and James’ mom is actually asking for her children to be actively involved in Jesus’ kingdom, not just to be pew sitters in the back and receive a blessing, but be part of the movement of God. Notice she is involved in her kids’ religious faith as they follow Jesus. This woman prays big; she has expectations wanting her boys to be close to Jesus on his right and left side. She doesn’t want them settling for mediocrity, content with a mere association, but wants the flow of God moving to and through them.
Women have been the back bone of the Christian faith. Just look at Paul’s closing remarks to the church in Rome. He mentions a bunch of women as being instrumental in accomplishing the ministry. This is the ironic because men had interpreted the Bible to say women can’t be more than behind the scenes helpers, which is not the case when you read the Bible, specifically Jesus and Paul’s remarks.
A couple of years ago, we looked at all the complicated passages of the Bible in our Thursday night services and, of course, many of them dealt with the awkward statements about women—covering their heads and not being allowed to teach, etc. What was fascinating was time and again the passages were not understood correctly from their Hebrew or Greek origin. God would not set up half of humanity to be under the oppression of the other half. He wants all of us under His law of love. In Genesis, “man will rule over you” was not a pronouncement, but a fact of physicality.
“I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man, she must be silent” (1 Timothy 2:12). The context is essential to understand this statement. Paul is launching churches in the middle of pagan cultures that treated women as pieces of property, easily disregarded, where pagan religions had women prostitutes as part of their worship. A woman placed in authority would have interfered with the reception of the gospel.
Furthermore, when Paul says, “I do not allow a woman to teach.” The grammar is, “At this time.” It was not a blanket statement for all time, but specific for that moment. Paul is the one who said, “In Christ, there is no male or female.” He taught equality of the sexes.
The church could not exist without the women who do so much of the work. They did it in spite of the fact they were kept from leadership positions. My daughter is at ministry school where second class servant status continues to be the prevalent perspective of both professors and teachers for females in ministry.
Women in the early church were catalysts for much of what we believe. They were the last ones at the cross and first ones to the tomb. They were the first to tell the world about the resurrection. Anna was the first woman to preach that Jesus was the Messiah. Women were in the Upper Room when the Holy Spirit fell upon the believers. A woman, Lydia, was the first gentile convert during Paul’s missionary journey to the European continent.
As our text reveals, women were an important part of the leadership of the early church including prophets, ministers and teachers. Phillip had four daughters who were prophets. Priscilla taught in the early church. The homes they met in were identified by women’s names, indicating each was the leader or preacher of that particular house church. Phoebe is called a deacon, a word used for a man minister.
In Acts 1:14, they all joined together constantly in prayer along with the women. The Holy Spirit’s outpouring was prophesied in Joel 2: “I will pour out My Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy on all my servants, both men and women.” Not gender--it’s our relationship with Jesus that gives our lives its value. The amount of compassion that flows forth from us is once again where women excel. God is love and women characteristically love others best.
We all have to live out our script in this life. Sometimes that role calls us to be directed by our gender and sometimes it is not.
Mentoring others is our calling: men and women. A man had a new wife who was rough around the edges because she didn’t have a mom around as a child. His mother thought this woman was unworthy of her son, so she rejected her. She always made her son’s wife feel small, unworthy, uninvited. But what if that “every week in church woman” invested in the girl her son loved and became the mother her son’s new wife never had?
Are you changing anyone’s life? Intentionally investing in anyone’s spiritual growth? Mothers, by definition, live for others. They live their life for their children’s welfare first, which is what the church is meant to do. Like William Temple stated, “The church is the only society that exists solely for the benefit of its non-members.”
You know the song lyrics, “Jesus loves me…this I know…for the Bible tells me so.” The Scottish sing, “Jesus loves me…this I know…for my mother told me so.” A man asked if he could join the church. The pastor said, “Sure, what about our church made you want to join us?” The man said, “Nothing, it was the way my mother lived.”
A mother was walking with her young daughter who saw something on the ground, picked it up and started to put it in her mouth. The mother snatched it away, “Don’t put things from the ground in your mouth.” The girl asked, “Why?” “Because it’s been lying outside, you don’t know where it’s been. It’s dirty and has germs.” The little girl asked, “Mommy, how do you know all this stuff?” “It’s on the mommy test. You have to know it or they don’t let you be a mommy.” They walked in silence a moment then the girl said, “I get it. So if you don’t pass the test you have to be a daddy?” Mom said, “Exactly.”

Source: Rodney Buchanan, Melvin Newland, Jerry Shirley

About Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis: Rev. Dr. William Lewis has been the Senior Pastor of Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration since 2009. Whether at a traditional service, praise service, or the more casual Thursday night service, you’ll find that Pastor William’s preaching brings the Word of God to life D.Min. McCormick Theological Seminary Th.M. Princeton Theological Seminary M.Div. Fuller Theological Seminary B.A. University Colorado
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