The Mothers of Choctaw
First of all, I want to thank Celestia. She's our church secretary and she does a lot of things, of course, for the office, but she also does a lot of things just not even connected with the office. So many things that she does to help the youth group, and a lot of people rely on her for so much. She organized our young ladies today, who distributed the Life is Chocolate pamphlets. If you're a mom, then the booklet is to say we appreciate you and if you're not a mom, then the booklet is to say we appreciate the mother who raised you. And if you've lost your mom or you are separated from your mother in some way, this booklet is a token of love that hopefully will always be there between yourself and your mother.
Of course, we do this on this particular day because our nation pauses to recognize the beauty and the sacredness of motherhood, once during the year. More than ever it is important to renew the importance of this divinely created and appointed role for women, because there is such an attack being made on the legitimacy of motherhood. Genetic engineers continue to tinker with the possibility of creating human life, artificially, outside a woman's body. Modern science lists at least nine different ways to produce a child in addition to the original conception produced by a man and a woman. There is a movement to liberate, through these various methods, a woman from the need to conceive, carry, and give birth to children. Imagine where we're at, when this is what society is working on.
The idea is that if a woman is freed from the burden of having babies, then women will be equal to men and will better be able to compete with men. Of course, the fact that men don't have babies has not necessarily done wonders for their character. Do we really need to have women become more like men? Do we really need to have children born in bottles, without a clear identity and raised by institutions, so the sexes can battle each other for a greater share of the earth's resources? Really? Is this what we want?
Take a look at the New Town shootings, and the violence in our inner cities, and see what angry, rootless, faithless children can do. Now, what we need is quite the opposite. We need to respect motherhood every day of the year. Not just on one day, so card makers and flower shops and candy makers can make money. We need to create an environment where women can have their babies in safety and in peace and security. We need the kind of leadership that will encourage and reward mothers who sacrifice a good part of their lives to staying at home in order to raise children and get them off to a good start. Whether they're working moms or stay at home moms, we need the type of mothers that have been crucial to the growth of this congregation over the last 70 years.
I propose to you that we have here, in Choctaw, turned out the kind of women that the world desperately needs. So my sermon today is entitled, The Mothers of Choctaw. And I'd like to talk a little bit about the special mothers here who have made an enormous difference, not only here, but in the community and I dare say even in the world.
So to begin with, there were the first mothers. More than seven decades ago a few young mothers, like Opal Gibson and Beatrice Larson, came to hear the preachers who came from Capitol Hill, in order to hold a gospel meeting here in Choctaw, up here on Twenty-Third street 70 years ago, more than 70 years ago, 1939 to be exact. There was such enthusiasm that the meeting went on for another week and seeing as there was a mind to continue meeting, the group rented the Lodge Hall on Main Street, and the Choctaw congregation was formally established that fall. This September we'll celebrate the 74th anniversary of that beginning.
It's never been easy for mothers to be regular at the assembly, what with babies and toddlers needing their constant, and the key word there is constant, attention. But these first mothers, they stayed the course and they encourage their men to lead the congregation in building a more permanent meeting house for the children of the Lord. Some of our old timers remember the construction of the first building across the street from that Lodge Hall in 1941.
I knew Opal Gibson, as many of you did, she has passed on. She was a charter member and she wrote the history of that time and I quote from her writings now she writes, "In the early spring of 1941, the men started to work on the foundation, to put the building on. It was very cold and the men would work mostly on weekends. The ladies of the church would fix hot meals and serve the men in the old Lodge Hall. They would take them hot coffee on the job and the men really appreciated it. The ladies felt they were having a part in getting their own place of worship. The women also did a lot of finishing touches on the inside of the building. It was a grand day in May of 1941 when we had our first meeting in our own place of worship. Even though we had crude benches, we were proud of our gas heating and our outdoor restrooms. We had come a long way," she writes.
The first mothers had, indeed, come a long way, because they provided the vision for what could be. And through others like Bea Learson and Ruth Hott, ladies who have passed on, and Opal Gibson, of course, we have received a lifetime of example for Christian living. We have Bernice Farmer, here is a person who's been a member, I believe, the longest - 60 years. The first mothers were faithful, their children were faithful, and even their children's children are faithful today. The first mothers pioneered the kind of tough, yet caring faith that has been a hallmark of Choctaw women throughout the 70-plus years of our history.
And so, for this reason, we honor the first mothers today. In addition to these precious first mothers, we also honor the faithful mothers. Not everyone can have the good fortune of being the first or being the original at something, and God doesn't require this of us. But God does recognize faithfulness, and here at Choctaw, we have been blessed with so many wonderful women who have and had great faith. If you follow the history of this congregation, you would see its development pattern as a series of ups and downs, up and down movements. That's the history of this church - up and down, and up and down. There have been wars. There have been droughts. There have been boom times and bust times, and several construction projects. Preachers have come and preachers have gone. Attendance has risen, only to drop dangerously low. But through all of this, there have been a legion of mothers who have faithfully taught Bible class and tended the nursery, who have organized VBS and worked in the office, who have aided the poor and provided quilts, who have visited the sick and the elderly and those who are lonely, cooked a million meals for church meetings and picnics and weddings and potlucks and funerals, and done innumerable acts of kindness for others, whether they were members or not.
Mothers, who by their grinding perseverance in bringing babies and children to Bible class Sunday after Sunday after Sunday, week after week, year in and year out, nurtured their family's faith into maturity. I cannot count how many adults begin the story of their conversion to Christianity with the words, if it weren't for my mother, and you fill in the blank. Mothers without husbands, who single-handedly kept their families faithful, through sheer strength of character and total faith in the Lord.
Choctaw has an honor roll of faithful mothers who have been, for years, the backbone of this congregation and kept it going. To name one would be to forget another. But their names are evident if you follow the progress of this congregation. Their names are the ones who you see at the head of the sign-up sheets. Their names are signed at the bottom of your get well cards. Their names appear when food is needed, when help is needed. Their names lead the list of volunteers for good works. Their names are on the lips of your children when they speak of their Bible class teachers. Their names are whispered in prayers of thanksgiving for kindnesses received. They are the faithful mothers of Choctaw.
And we honor you before God this day, and we are assured that He knows every one of your names. And then finally, in addition to the first and the faithful mothers, we also lift up the names of the mothers of tomorrow. Have you noticed that our nursery and our toddler class is kind of full? I have news for you, it's going to be ever more crowded before we celebrate our 75th anniversary in the year 2014. According to our statistics, young married couples or couples with babies and small children are the fastest growing segment of this congregation. From a church growth perspective, this is wonderful news.
The church of tomorrow is right there in our nursery. It's right there in our Time Travelers program. It's right there in all of your Bible classes. It's right there in VBS We are seeing one generation of mothers, hand down to the next, the precious responsibility of carrying on the work that they have so diligently done for so long. One of the things that my own daughters, our own daughters, have repeated to me and Lise over and over again, the thing that they looked forward to, was to see their children participate in VBS. They looked forward to that day.
To see Lily and Daxton and Savannah yes, even Titus and Emile and Christian and Sophia, and two other babies that are yet to be born, three other babies. It's inspiring to see our young marrieds, our new mothers, walking in the footsteps of the first mothers and the many faithful mothers who have set the pattern for loving and faithful service to the Lord here in Choctaw. We salute you, young moms. And our prayer is that when those who celebrate our 100th anniversary speak, they will speak of you in the same way that we have spoken of those who came before you. God bless you.
And God bless all the good mothers that are here today. The history of this congregation is intertwined with the wonderful Christian mothers who have served here for so long. I hope we will continue in this way until Jesus returns. For this reason, I pray that when Jesus does come, He will find all the mothers faithful to Him in obedience. Faithful to their families in love. And faithful to the church in service. If any are here, not just mothers, but if any here need assistance to be obedient to Christ or helpful to this church and yes, even perhaps a better mom, if you need the prayers of the church for this, then we encourage you to come now as we stand and as we sing our song of encouragement.