Mothers’ Day, 2007
Salem Presbyterian Church
My mother, Carol Jeanne Parsons Shafer, was a member of this congregation from 1960-1968. While she was here, she was a wife, a mother of three including two teens, a homemaker, a “minister’s wife,” an occasional organist, the director of the Children’s Choir, a university student working on her teaching certification and later her master’s degree, and an elementary teacher, among other duties. The word “multi-tasker” describes her life; she was busy. She was an equal partner with my father in all of her duties. When I read the following scripture, I think of my mother and the devoted care she gave to her family, her church, and her students.
Just as we know from the Parable of the Good Samaritan that everyone we encounter is our neighbor, we also know that we are all mothers and fathers to each other, husbands and wives to those we love and to the institutions we serve. I invite you to listen to this ancient scripture— those who are mothers, those who mother others, and those who have been mothered—and to think of how these ancient words describe a woman who is the CEO of her home and family, the administrator and manager of her life and the lives of her extended family—- a woman, single, married, divorced, or widowed—any woman who uses her skills to be the creative source within her home and her world, watching over, nourishing, protecting, caring, and mothering those who come within her realm.
Proverbs 31: Verses 10-31 are an acrostic poem, each verse beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
“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 dark; and provides food
for her family and portions for her servant girls.
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 dignity, 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.
Give her the reward she has earned and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
“This is the Word of the Lord”
The Proverbs 31 woman is charitable, entrepreneurial, fashionable, financially astute, healthy, industrious, loving, managerial, productive, prudent, resourceful, responsible, reverent, self-confident, skilled, trustworthy, virtuous, wise, praiseworthy as a wife and mother. She represents the essence of womanliness and is the mother to us all.