A Mother’s Influence and Mother’s Day

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The Bible is filled with interesting stories that stimulate the mind and provide advice for meaningful living. Such is a story in the Book of Acts, chapter 5 and verse fifteen.

The Apostle Peter was walking down the street and the Bible says his shadow fell upon some invalids and they were healed. What a story.

It sounds unbelievable. Somewhat like a modern urban legend. However, since it’s in the Bible, I’ll take it at its word; accepting it as really happened.

However, as a retired minister, and a columnist, I’ll invoke a little literary license, and transpose the shadow into the word. INFLUENCE.

How often have we-you and me- been healed/helped by a friend, a loved one; or even an enemy by the shadow of his/her influence? Forget the many that we can think of and focus just on one. Your mother. My mother.

Many years ago, my life reached a crossroads; a major decision. I became a Christian. A fallout of that decision was a “holier than thou” attitude and behavior.

I acted the way I thought being born again meant acting pious and holy. I made a mistake that turned out the best thing that ever happened to a young Christian. I told my mother.

I shared an account about a female friend that became pregnant without being married. In my pious, judgmental attitude, I was very superior. My mother’s shadow landed full force on me. She said, “Bill, did you ever think that your supposed friend might have benefited from your religious experience instead of being judged by you?”

Those words shocked some sense into me. I’ve never gotten over her words, even after all these words. Her influence was Jesus speaking, “Judge not that you be not judged.”

On May 8, 2016 you and I will be celebrating Mother’s Day. Your mother’s shadow, her influence will bring memories of her example, her advice, her counsel and even your favorite food.

The history of Mother’s Day goes back thousands of years to the ancient Greeks. They held festivities to honor Rhea, the mother of the gods. The early Christians recognized mothers on the fourth Sunday of Lent in honor of Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In 1872, Julia Ward Howe organized a day for mothers dedicated to peace. However, in 1907, Anna May Jarvis (1864-1948) a Philadelphia schoolteacher began a movement to establish a National Day to honor mothers. She begged legislators and prominent business men to support her idea.

Other attempts were made prior to 1907 but nothing took hold until May 12, 1907. On that date a small service was held in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia where Anna Jarvis’ mother had been teaching Sunday School.

The first “official” service was held on May 10, 1908 in the same church. Anna Jarvis then went throughout the country to establish Mother’s Day as a U.S. National Holiday. In 1910 the holiday was declared officially in West Virginia and the remaining states quickly followed suit.

On May 8, 1914, the U.S. Congress passed a law making the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day. The next day, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed it a National Holiday. In 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a stamp commemorating the holiday. The Grafton Methodist Church is now the International Mother’s Day Shrine and is a National Historic Landmark. Three cheers for Anna Jarvis.

Carnations have come to represent Mother’s Day since Anna Jarvis passed out 500 of them at the first celebration in 1908. Usually a pink carnation is worn if your mother is living and a white one if she is dead.

The average celebration of Mother’s Day generates approximately $2.6 billion in flowers, $1.53 billion on gifts and $68 million on greeting cards. And untold billions on dining out.

It has been reliably verified that a close companion of Muhammad the Prophet said that the Prophet, was asked, “Who is most entitled for my good conduct?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” “Then whom?” was asked. Again the Prophet answered, “Your mother.” The question was repeated a third time and received the same answer. It was only when the questioner asked his question a fourth time that the Prophet replied, “Your father.”

One further comment. If your mother has passed away, spend a few minutes thinking of her. If she is alive, communicate with her by way of a phone call, a card, a letter, spend some time with her – if possible, etc. WHY? BECAUSE YOUR MOTHER AND MINE GAVE US THE GREATEST GIFT WE WILL EVER RECEIVE-LIFE.

Amen. Selah. So be it.

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