Our parents are our earliest teachers. It is from them that our personalities are molded and our values are shaped. Our parents provide us with the foundations of who we are: flaws and all. Mothers, and those who have been like mothers, help to teach us what is important in life and how to be the best forms of ourselves. My mother was no different.
My mother always complains about my brother and I moving “so far away from home.” You see Erick and I were the first and among the only ones in our family to leave Colchester in generations. She’ll often ask what she did wrong. But I always counter those emotions saying it is not what she did wrong. It is about what she did right raising us to embrace life and to follow where God takes us. She’ll also admire that her children don’t let themselves be bullied when she is so meek. She credits my father with that. But I also credit her.
I remember one year, I had a bus driver who bullied me every single day. My mother happened to witness it one day and went directly to that bus station and confronted the woman and I never again had a problem. My mother was no nonsense with her children and with how the world interacted with us. She unknowingly taught my brothers and me that you stand up for what you believe in. You stand your ground when necessary and you pick the most important battles in life. So yes my father did expect us to stand our ground and my mother lived it in her life. She overcame her discomfort with confrontation more than once for the wellbeing of her children. All of us hold true to our convictions. All of us fight for what we believe in and we all have learned to pick our battles.
God blesses mothers and motherly-figures in our lives because they influence the next generation. They teach Godly values, and what is important. They impart a piece of God to their children. We saw it in our scriptures for this morning. Rebekah gave of herself for Jacob willing to sacrifice herself and her own happiness for the happiness of her child. And what mother doesn’t, whether it is a mistake or not. It is what teaches us the importance of family life. It teaches us our values, even if it is just what not to do. It teaches us that sometimes we have to overcome our own discomfort in life for someone else.
In the second letter to Timothy, we see a rarity where women were recognized as the driving force in teaching religious values to the next generation. Lois and Eunice imparted to Timothy what was important in life. They taught him the faith and right from wrong. They taught him the importance of honesty and trust in the Lord. Our parents, the influence of mothers and grandmothers, aunts and other important women in our lives, can and do transform the lives of each person for good or for bad. As a teacher, I regularly found myself having conversations with parents about the central role they played in their children’s lives.
Children want to be like their parents. They learn self value, the importance of community, right from wrong, compassion, and empathy from their parents. The state of Connecticut has tried to introduce these lessons into the lesson plans of preschool classrooms. But there is no better teacher than our parents. There are no better lessons than the ones that come from the interactions we have in our communities and our families. These are the lessons that last the longest. These are the lessons that will bring the next generation through their lives and future struggles. Billy Graham once said, “Only God himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children”.
There is no such thing as people who don’t leave their mark on the next generation. We all do. This is why it is so important to remain dedicated to the values of the faith encouraging compassion and care for our neighbors. We need to remember to act as mothers in the faith and to take ourselves out of our comfort zones so those growing up in the church and those growing up in our town community can look on and learn what values are truly important.
Remember, even when you think you are not being watched, you are. Children learn from the sacrifices of their parents and they do see them. Children learn from the conversations they over hear. Children learn from what we stand up for. Children learn from the tenets that are central in the work that we do. They learn the sacredness of life from us. It is up to us to mold the next generation. It is up to us to work in this world caring for others. These were the lessons that Lois and Eunice imparted to Timothy and whether he had his own family or not these were the lessons he shared with all the lives he touched. The author of 2 Timothy wrote, “ I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lo′is and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you”. Timothy became a leader, a minister in the Christian faith, a teacher of tradition and values that were passed on to him from his mother and grandmother. The author goes on to encourage Timothy to maintain the faith and to resist false teachings.
In our mother day weekends, let us remember and honor those women in our lives who have left a lasting imprint on who we are. Let us honor them in the works that we do; let us honor them in the choices that we make. Let us live into their compassion, love, and sacrificial care. Let us remember the teaching and values they have shown us and how to stand up for what is right in life. The relationships we have in life are holy and it is through them that we experience the love of the divine. So share that holy love with all who are in need, as God intends us all to do.
 Billy Graham, 20th Century.
 2 Timothy 1:5, RSV.
(based on Genesis 27 and 2 Timothy 1:5; 3:14-17)