Do you know the history of Mother’s day?
It was born out of a small methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. The nation was still mourning the Civil War dead. While teaching a Memorial Day lesson, Mrs. Anna Reeves Jarvis thought of mothers who had lost their sons. She prayed aloud that one day there could be a "Memorial Day" for mothers. The prayer made a deep impression on one of Mrs. Jarvis’s eleven children.
In 1908, the younger Anna Jarvis begins a campaign for a nationwide observance of Mother's Day in honor of her late mother, a community health advocate. It wouldn’t be all that long before Anna Jarvis became concerned over the commercialization of Mother's Day. But on May 9, 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill recognizing Mother's Day as a national holiday. A moment that would only escalate the problem and by her death in 1948, Anna Jarvis admitted that she regretted ever starting the holiday.
So for those among us who hate Hallmark Holidays, I’d like to discuss the role of woman in the Christian movement by highlighting two interesting scriptures you might have missed as you read through your bible.
The first comes in 2 timothy 1:5. Paul writes to Timothy his protege..
“I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
Motherhood vital in the Old Testament, Paul gives a shout out to the mother of Timothy and his grandmother. He honors them for being the ones who gave Timothy his foundation of what to believe. If Paul called out moms and grandmothers for their contribution, maybe we ought to recognize them as well. If you look through scripture, you will find many more honorable mentions of women.
Look at the end of Romans 16:13. I like the NLT for this verse...
Greet Rufus, whom the Lord picked out to be his very own; and also his dear mother, who has been a mother to me.
Whoa! What did he just say?
We know who Rufus is. He was the son of Simon of Cyrene who carried the cross of Christ on the last leg of the painful Good Friday journey. This means that Simon who went home from that experience a changed man. And he shared the power of that moment with his wife who then, likely, shared it with her sons, Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21).
Are you not moved by imagining that she heard from her husband about his close encounter with Jesus…and that the two boys heard it as well? And then, in a remarkable loving intersection of faith and circumstance, she might have shared it with Paul. Now, we don’t know the details of how they met, where they met, and under what circumstances this remarkable intersection of the past and future of the movement happened, we know the power of Rufus mom on those around her changed all who encountered her.
Her mention in scripture lets us know she nurtured to the Great Apostle Paul. I think its pretty safe assumption Paul would learn the details of the final moments of Jesus, from the wife of the man who carried the Lord’s cross, Simon of Cyrene. She gave Him an unfettered witness of the truth of the gospel. And her care and love of Saul of Tarsus, the terrorist-turned-missionary, should inspire us all. Think about it. Without knowing who he would become, she would foster the growth of the most significant convert in the history of the church - the man who would give us over 25% of the New Testament.
Woman have always been highly esteemed by God in the Kingdom movement. The scriptures prove this in the opening chapters. We are taught that women, like men, bear the stamp of God's own image (Genesis 1:27; 5:1-2). Men and women were created equal. Women have key roles in the biblical narrative. Wives are seen as venerated partners and cherished companions to their husbands, not merely slaves or pieces of household furniture (Genesis 2:20-24; Proverbs 19:14; Ecclesiastes 9:9). At Sinai, God commanded children to honor both father and mother (Exodus 20:12).
Christianity elevated the status of women to an unprecedented height:
Jesus' disciples included several women (Luke 8:1-3), a practice almost unheard of among the rabbis of His day.
Jesus encouraged their discipleship by portraying it as something more needful than domestic service (Luke 10:38-42).
Jesus first recorded, explicit disclosure of His own identity as the true Messiah to a Samaritan woman (John 4:25-26).
Jesus always treated women with the utmost dignity—even women who might otherwise be regarded as outcasts (Matthew 9:20-22; Luke 7:37-50; John 4:7-27).
Jesus blessed their children (Luke 18:15-16), raised their dead (Luke 7:12-15), forgave their sin (Luke 7:44-48), and restored their virtue and honor (John 8:4-11).
From the womb to the tomb, Jesus lifted women from the cultural view of less than to equal to. Women were last at the cross. First at the tomb. They have been prominent in the movement ever since.
Women were there on Pentecost, when the New Testament church was born
Women were there with the chief disciples, praying (Acts 1:12-14).
Women were there displaying good deeds (Acts 9:36) and hospitality (Acts 12:12; 16:14-15);
Women were there sharing their understanding of sound doctrine and their spiritual giftedness (Acts 18:26; 21:8-9).
Women were there leading beside the apostles. Even the apostle Paul, regularly ministered alongside women (Philippians 4:3). He recognized and applauded their faithfulness and their giftedness (Romans 16:1-6; 2 Timothy 1:5).
Women have helped advance the Kingdom. So on this day, we not only give thanks to our mom’s, we give thanks to God for creating woman in His image as equals in the responsibility for the mission of expanding God’s kingdom in our homes, neighborhoods and where we work.