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Summary: Not your typical Mother’s Day sermon. From our perspective, motherhood -- or parenthood in general -- is an open-ended proposition. But godly mothers have chosen to take the risks and walk with God through times both good and bad.

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The Bi-Polar Possibilities of Motherhood

(Ruth, passim)

1. Nothing is quite as sweet as the attachment most children have to their mother.

2. One evening after dinner, my five-year-old son Brian noticed that his mother had gone out. In answer to his questions, I told him, "Mommy is at a Tupperware party."

This explanation satisfied him for only a moment. Puzzled, he asked, "What’s a Tupperware party, Dad?"

I’ve always given my son honest answers, so I figured a simple explanation would be the best approach. "Well, Brian," I said, "at a Tupperware party, a bunch of ladies sit around and sell plastic bowls to each other."

Brian nodded, indicating that he understood this curious pastime. Then he burst into laughter. "Come on, Dad," he said. "What is it really?"

3. Things are not always as they seem: but sometimes they are! Truth can be stranger than fiction.

4. Motherhood is an elusive subject. When we hear the term, "mother," perhaps most of us have a positive feeling. But others cringe. When we talk about rearing children, many of us view such an experience positively, but others cringe.

5. On the one hand, the idea that everyone had a wonderful mother is a myth. On the other hand, many of us were blessed with exceptional mothers, as I was.

Main Idea: From our perspective, motherhood -- or parenthood in general -- is an open-ended proposition. But godly mothers have chosen to take the risks and walk with God through times both good and bad.

The story of Ruth illustrates the uncertainties of motherhood.

I. For Naomi, Motherhood Meant BITTERNESS (Ruth 1)

A. Better to not have than to have TAKEN AWAY

1. Note the story in the text; although it is Mother’s Day, this story is relevant to the Christmas story. You’ll see why.

2. Famine in the land of Judah .

3. A family from the small town of Bethlehem decides to leave the country and move to a neighboring nation, nearby Moab, now Jordan.

4. The family consists of the dad, Elimelech, his wife, Naomi, and their boys, Mahlon and Kilion. In time, Elimelech dies, leaving Naomi a widow.

5. Sometime after their dad died, the two boys marry, one marrying Orpah and the other marrying Ruth.

6. Then the boys died, leaving, leaving Naomi without husband or son. After a total of 10 years in Moab, she decides to return to Judah. Her daughter-in-law Ruth was so close to her that she returned with Naomi.

7. Note what Naomi tells the people when she returned to Judah in 1:20-21

8. She was a bitter woman, because she had a rich life and is now returning home to bide out the rest of her days.

B. Death is not the ONLY potential misery

1. The FATHER of the Prodigal

Although a parable, this story is as common today as ever.

"Briefly stated, the Talmud (Kiddushin 29a) states that a father is obligated regarding his son to circumcise him, redeem him (if he is a first-born), teach him Torah, marry him off, and teach him a trade. Some add an obligation to teach him how to swim. A father is further obligated to support his children till adulthood (Talmud, Kesuvos 49b)."

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We assume that the dad in this parable was a typical Jewish man who had done all this, yet his son had a will of his own.

Have you ever wondered how the mother felt? She is not mentioned in this parable, because this is a parable about our heavenly Father. Still, what is it like for the mothers of prodigals? Some of you know.

2. David and his son, ABSALOM

David had eight wives, including Maacah, the daughter of a king who ruled over the tiny nation of Geshur (2 Samuel 3:3).

In the Psalms, we read about David’s struggles with God as his son was pursuing him, trying to kill him to steal his throne. But how did Maacah feel about this? Was she hostile toward David for being such a poor father to Absalom? (he was). Who was she cheering for? The Scriptures do not tell us. But Abasalom was killed, and she experienced motherhood gone sour.

3. Children whose parents bring THEM heartache

Matthew 18:6, "But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea."

Recent Tribune headlines have underscored the horrendous evil some children suffer.

Mothers can live bitter lives because of their children, and some of us in the congregation today struggle with bitterness towards our mothers.

You can do it right and still the kids have freewills of their own; many of the godly kings in II Kings had ungodly sons, and some ungodly kings had godly sons.

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