Old Testament Reading- Proverbs 6:20-23
New Testament Reading- Luke 2:41-52
By Henry J. Rafferty CP -May 8, 2022
On Mother’s Day,
we give thanks to Almighty God for creating mothers. First, God made human beings, He made them in His image, and I have always believed that each of us, men and women, contain attributes of God. In this day, when everyone wants to be so politically correct about everything, they think that they can’t talk about women being different than men, but they are different, and thank God for that. The big difference here though is that we need to understand that different doesn’t mean better or worse, but the word, ‘special,’ comes to mind describing what I am talking about.
As I said before, I believe each of us receives attributes of God in varying degrees. Some may say masculine attributes or feminine attributes, because these are the most general ways to categorize these qualities, but truthfully each person, gender aside, receives some of all these qualities. Maybe the hormone that is most prominent in each of us heightens these qualities more in the genders, but again, I don’t think women and men being different is a bad thing, but more of a blessing, and a way for each of us to rely more on each other than if we each were given the equal amounts of God’s attributes. Genesis describes our first parents as being helpers to each other and complimenting each other. How can that be a bad thing? Anyway, here I am using two hundred words to basically say that I want to tell women how special they are without being thought a male chauvinist, oh, the world we live in.
Women, in general, and mothers more specifically for today’s topic, are given special portions of God’s attributes when it comes to living for others, caring for others, and doing all of these things with no thought of reward or thoughts of praise. Truly, it is Christianity at its core, and mothers were portraying these qualities before Christ appeared on earth. That’s why we know they are God-given qualities because they have existed since creation. Let’s take a look at mothers a hundred years ago. First, I love when people say they didn’t go to work, yeah right, to go to work would have been a break. These women woke before their families, helped, or were the main performers of morning chores, saw their men off to a job, then continued to work at home the rest of the day. A hundred years ago was 1922, around the times of my grandparents’ births. Depending on where you lived, you may or may not have been able to go to a grocer or butcher for your food. Many grew their own food and had their own animals. Often, these were daily jobs that had to be tended. Let’s not forget that laundry and other tasks around the home were not as easy as today either, and there is no paycheck at the end of the week for any of this work. Kids would be taken care of after school by their mothers, there were no day care facilities. Meals needed prepared, gardens needed harvesting, and food needed processed before winter. This was not easy work and often it was the kids that helped when they weren’t in school. Sounds glamorous, doesn’t it? How many T.V. programs did they watch? Not many in 1922, the television was still in its experimental form until the late 1920’s. Even automobiles were still in their infancy in this era and many people would never dream of owning more than one, so this would be of no help either. Life was hard, but it all needed done.
Motherhood is Christianity at its core.
Now to our modern era, yes now we have multiple cars, washing machines, dishwashers, and microwaves. You name the gadget, and we’ve got it and all this to make life easier, right? Yes, but now mothers and fathers have to go to work, but this hasn’t stopped the mother’s instinct. They are still up before everyone else doing chores before they go to a job. They try to plan out all the shopping and meals to fit into their days, and when they get home from work, they pick up on chores right where they left off in the morning. Times may change but the spirit of a woman and mother does not. They are tireless in supporting their families, often sporting side jobs like selling Mary Kay, or Pampered Chef just to provide a better Christmas for their children or grandchildren. I know firsthand because I had grandmothers that worked tirelessly for their families. I have a wonderful mother, who worked tirelessly for her family, and I have a beautiful wife, who works tirelessly for us now. No matter what part of my life I talk about, there is a woman working tirelessly for my benefit. Am I not the most blessed person in the world and why is God so good to me to bless me with these wonderful women? Yes, I am truly blessed, but I know that others have the same stories. I know this because I know that God made women out of some tough stuff, yet He also made them of the softest material on earth. Mothers can be both, tough one minute and tender the next. Another great quality given by God.
I want to tell you about my Grandmother Rafferty. My Grandma had a reputation for being, let’s say difficult, but sometimes I think she may be judged too harsh. She didn’t have it easy, she graduated from Lawrence Park High School in 1945, the year the Great War ended and started working at G.E. not long after. Lots of women were starting to work at factories in that time period, because of the war and the reduction of workers. My Grandma did her part and, in her twenties, met my grandfather and got married. Three boys were born within six years, and they lived a modest middle-class life in Harborcreek.
Before the boys were grown up and out of the house, my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and eventually could not continue to work. My grandmother worked two jobs to support her family, not easy, especially when you consider that women have never made what a man doing the same work did. My grandfather died in his late fifties after 15 years of cancer and my grandmother never remarried, being widowed for over thirty years. She could be moody, and ornery, and just about as difficult as a person could be, but she never neglected her duty to her family. Now I am sure my father and my uncle could probably tell a much different story, but all I can say is this, she was always great to me. She took me to Professional Wrestling matches, yes, I saw Jimmy ‘Superfly’ Snuka the first time with my grandma seated in ringside seats. She would take us shopping for Christmas presents, she was at every sporting event, she went on family vacations with us, she loved to play cards, and treated my best friends just like her own grandkids. I learned a lot from my grandma, and it would probably take a book to fill up all the things we did together in forty-some years. People can say what they want about her, because she was different to others, but she took care of her sick husband and she raised three very good sons. I learned the value of family history and tough love from her. I can honestly say that my life is better because I had her in my life. Hardly a day goes by that I don’t think of her, and I can’t eat a Cadbury Egg without a nod towards heaven.
My grandmother Johnston, who we all called ‘Nanny,’ was different in personality, but just as hard working in every way. Nanny never worked a paying job once she was married, but had a husband that worked two full-time jobs, working the family nursery during the day and working at General Electric on second shift. If there was work to be done at the house, she was the one doing it. Making meals, washing clothes, ironing, cleaning, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden and landscape, painting, sewing, being the disciplinarian, you name it she was the one doing it. For Nanny, her family was her world. She used to tell me towards the end of her life that she could just go back in a minute to the house in Wesleyville, where she raised her children, and live forever in that moment. She always said that for her, when she was raising her kids, was the best time of her life.
You could never go to Nanny’s house and not have some type of food: hotdogs, baloney sandwiches, ice cream, or a Pepperidge Farms cake that was always in the freezer if company visited. She taught me how to color, how to be kind to people, even if they weren’t deserving of it, and how to tell left from right. She would always tell me to push the handle on the water faucet in the kitchen sink to the right for cold water. “Push it towards the polyhouses out back,” she would say, “That’s to the right.” I think of that still to this day. I was very blessed to have gotten to be around her every day, the last ten years of her life.
I know I will never forget her especially because she gave me something more valuable than anything; she is who I give credit to for giving me my faith. I would ask her questions about God and about the Bible and after I started reading it, we would talk back and forth about our faith. How happy and truly interested she would be right now to hear me give a sermon. She was by no means a technical person, a T.V. remote was technological enough, but I will guarantee she would have one of us set up a device for her to livestream every Sunday. I miss both my grandmothers on Mother’s Day, but I was so blessed to have both of them in my life when so many others never even knew theirs.
"That is the gift of a mother to us, someone who cares more about us than they do about themselves. A selfless servant, with no thought of glory, just like Christ," ~ Pastor Henry Rafferty
These women that God created and that He so graciously placed in my life and the lives of others are just two stories in a book of so many more, and that is just in my life. You all have more stories to tell in your lives and God gave them all to us, a little piece of Himself, placed in these women, these mothers for our benefit. That is the gift of a mother to us, someone who cares more about us than they do about themselves. A selfless servant, with no thought of glory, just like Christ.
God loves women and mothers so much that the Bible is littered with the work, care, and love of them to the world. I want to show you one such verse today from Proverbs 31:10-31,
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar. She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her female servants. She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
"She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks. She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night. In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers. She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
"She makes linen garments and sells them and supplies the merchants with sashes. She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: 'Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.' Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
What more beautiful and powerful words could anyone have in the book of God’s Word? I know that we have many women in our lives that have been this for us, whether blood related or just a woman in your life. Maybe you have been this woman to someone or maybe you will be in the future. Know this, that God created women, mothers, and grandmothers with these special attributes so that they could bring forth good fruit to this world. Good fruit that will last till the end of days and that we will enjoy forever in the Kingdom of God.
Take time today to thank God for the wonderful women He has given us in our lives and take time to tell these women yourselves how much you love and appreciate them every single day. The blood, sweat, and tears they have shed for us is truly priceless. Thank you, ladies, and thank you Almighty God for creating them. Amen.