For Women Everywhere

May 14 2017


Since today is Mothers’ Day, I thought I would do a sermon about several women in the Bible. The first woman is Rahab, the prostitute. What a strange choice, you may say, but not really. In the opening lineage of the Gospel According to Matthew, verse 5 states: “and Salmon, the father of Boaz by Rahab.” It is an interesting insertion, but back to Rahab.

Rahab lived in Jericho. Joshua sent two spies into Jericho. The spies stayed one night with Rahab whose house was actually in the city wall. When the King of Jericho sent soldiers looking for the spies, Rahab hid them on her roof and told those searching that they had already gone. In turn for saving the spies and getting them safely out of Jericho, Rahab asked this of the spies: “Give me a sign of good faith that you will spare my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (Joshua 2:13)

Was she saved? Yes. They asked her to tie a crimson cord in the window and all in her household would be spared as long as they stayed in the house when the Israelites invaded.

According to Matthew, Salmon and Rahab were the parents of Boaz. We know who Boaz is from the story of Ruth. We can tell from this introduction that Rahab was a mother. We are not told why she chose to be a prostitute, but she did, and she was. She made the best choices she could, and one of those choices saved her whole family. Women everywhere have choices to make. We may not agree with their choices, but those were the best ones they could make at the time.

When we talk about prostitution, abortion and drug addiction in women, we are not in their shoes, nor can we fully understand why they make the choices they do. Some of them struggle to be good mothers. And yes, some of them totally neglect their children. But to turn them away would be a graver injustice than if Rahab had turned away the spies in Jericho. We are called as Christians to reach out to them with at least a little compassion and love in our hearts. They, too, are mothers.

Our second mother of the day is Sarah who laughed when the Lord said that in her old age she would have a child. “So Sarah laughed to herself saying, ‘After I have grown old and my husband is old, shall I have pleasure?’ The Lord replied, ‘At the set time I will return to you, in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.’” (Genesis 18:12-15) In Genesis 21:2 we read, “Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age.”

Where Abraham and Sarah perfect parents? Not by a long shot. If you remember, Abraham almost killed his son, Isaac. Abraham allowed two of his daughters to be raped and killed by the men of Sodom. Not a great father. Sarah did nothing to stop it. Not a great mother. Again, we expect that mothers should be perfect, should raise their families, know exactly what they are doing every minute, and make good choices. It doesn’t always work that way, but we love them, and we cherish them because they brought us into this world. Abraham and Sarah made bad choices, but ultimately were chosen by God to furnish the basis for the Kingdom of Israel.

Our last two mothers are Elizabeth, the mother of John, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.  In the section I read this morning, Mary is visiting Elizabeth who is also with child. The child in Elizabeth’s womb jumps for joy when Mary appears and the two support one another for three months.

Did Elizabeth and Mary have it easy as mothers? John was beheaded and Jesus was crucified. There is a saying, “When you lose a parent, you lose the past. When you lose a child, you lose the future.” Both of them lost their children when those children were only in their thirties. Whether that was destined to happen or not, and whether there was ultimately a favorable outcome, the mothers still endured a great loss. Were they proud mothers? Did they worry about their children? Did they grieve when they were killed? I think we can say that they did all of those.

But when politics entered the picture, there was nothing the mothers could do to stop the journeys others had chosen for them that led to their sons’ early deaths. Anyone who has ever seen the anguish of a mother who has lost a child can imagine, at least to some degree, what those mothers must have endured.

You can probably tell by now that I am not approaching this from a divine aspect, nor am I approaching it from the viewpoint that all mothers are perfect. I am approaching it from a purely human standpoint.

To think that the women and mothers in the Bible were perfect is a grievous error. But can we still learn from them? I think so. Throughout the pages of the stories of each one of them, they sought to do the best they could with their children. They made mistakes, but all mothers make mistakes. That doesn’t mean that we ought to hold mothers in less esteem, or love them any less. Most mothers are doing the best they can.

It is the nature of human beings that we all make mistakes. On this day when we honor mothers everywhere, let’s remember that most love their children, care for their children, sacrifice for their children, and try to do the best they can for their children. And that’s all anyone can ask of another. Amen.