SUNDAY, MAY 8, 2022, the Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom


 Time and life continually deliver us into the future ever moving forward.   Life, joy, loss and death are a constant in the path of this river of life.  This Mother’s Day we are saying goodbye to one of our dear mothers, Annie Mohammed, who graduated to Heaven Friday evening, May 6, 2022 at 11:52 p.m. We extend our love and support to Raheb, Sharlene, Sophia, Shelly, and Aaron.  We visited the home last night and everyone is doing well.  The funeral will be Wednesday, May 11, 2022.  More details will be forthcoming.


We will also be saying goodbye to Henry and Ursula as they are being sent forth on their next life assignment.  They have been beloved members of Eastgate Church for the past twelve years.  They have both served the congregation as faithful Deacons.  Ursula has served in music, intercession, finances, and faithfulness.  Henry has served as a Prophet-to-the-House, teacher, electronics, website streaming, and lay-preacher.  They are both pillars who have unflinchingly held up my arms during every spiritual battle.  They have had my back, never blinking.  We love them and know they will return to us often.  As with all God’s children who He lends to me for a season, I bless them to go forward into their divine destiny.  We will have a party at my home tonight celebrating them.


It has become my custom to dedicate the Mother’s Day message each year to a member of the church.  This year, I dedicate this message to Ursula.  She is certainly a Proverbs 31 woman, a Ruth, a Deborah, a Lydia and an Abigail; but the woman in the bible who I chose is Phoebe. 


Paul introduces Phebe as the bearer of his epistle to the Romans.   Paul was at Corinth when he wrote this letter.  This was more than 1,000 miles from Rome.   It wasn’t easy to send a letter in Paul’s day.  If you wanted to get a letter to a person, you had to hire a messenger or trust it to someone who happened to be going that way.


The Lord provided him with a very unusual mailman.  It was a mailwoman.  Her name was Phoebe.  She was a wealthy lady who was a leader in the church at Cenchrea which was nine miles from Corinth.


Thus, it was that God chose a woman to bear one of the world’s most valuable documents to the capitol of the empire.  Surely this saint of God had no way of knowing the value of that scroll she carried under her robe.  Because she fulfilled her commission, we have in existence the clearest and fullest statement on the doctrine of sin and salvation available today.  The just shall live by Faith”.


Ursula like Phoebe has traveled as a Christian business woman across this nation. Whether she realized it, every trip, she was carrying with her the glory of God which is part of who she is.


 It is likely that Phoebe traveled overland for that would have been the preferred manner of travel in those days for a woman.  Let us suppose she joined a caravan, traveled northward into Achaia and Macedonia, and then crossed narrow water-ways that took her into the Roman Empire and its capitol. 


This would give her the opportunity to stop at many places along the route where Christian churches had been established.  To these congregations, she would bring greetings and a message directly from Paul.


Rom. 16: 1-2:  I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that you assist her in whatsoever business she has need of you; for she has been a succorer of many, and myself also.


Paul’s gracious introduction to the believers in Rome establish Phoebe’s high standing in Cenchrea.  The introduction assures a ready welcome among like-minded followers of Jesus.  A study of these two verses reveals an amazing woman, one Paul treats as a fellow minister, one he forthrightly, and with honor acknowledges as having money.  She also has business to be attended to.   Paul describes Phoebe via three accolade nouns as “sister,” “servant,” and “succorer.”  The word “servant” comes from the Greek word diaconos, from which our word “deacon” is derived.  Most believe, as do I, that Phoebe was a deaconess. In the early Church much was made of service, little of office.  It is believed that Phoebe was a minister, even as were Paul, Timothy, and others.


Third, Paul call Phebe “a succorer of many.”  This polite phrase means a great deal.  It suggests one who has been the patroness of the unprotected and despised, one who has come to the aid of converts in need, one who has fought the battles of those who were oppressed.


Fourth, Paul adds the phrase that she was a “succorer of myself also.”  It is conjecture that she may have ministered to him as a mother much like the mother of Rufus.


Romans 16:13:  Salute Rufus chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.


Phebe, we can easily imagine, presided over a hospitable place, where Paul felt at home, as he did at the home of Pricilla and Aquila in Corinth, and as he did at the home of Lydia, while at Philippi.  No doubt Phebe’s Cenchrea home was the meeting place for early workers in the Church of Jesus Christ.  Phebe devoted herself to the ministry of the Church.  


Paul’s letter for Rome became a record of all he and others owed her for her great service to the spread of the gospel.  An added note of Paul’s is that they receive her “as becometh saints.” 


 Paul’s silence about the affairs of the church at Cenchrea reinforces his esteem for Phoebe.  There is no letter to the church Cenchrea.  There is no evidence that lawsuits, immoral and sexual practices, or disorderly worship happened in Cenchrea.  Phoebe received no pastoral letter of advice. 

As a first-century woman, Phoebe breaks the mold.  She leads the Cenchrean congregation, has money, and generously shares it.  She follows the tradition of Miriam, Deborah, the queen of Sheba, and Hulda, all leaders who earlier crossed the biblical stage.  


The apostle Paul recognized Phoebe endearingly as his sister in the Lord.  He commended her as a minister of sound doctrine; an acknowledged minister/leader who oversaw a church with few apparent problems; a skilled businesswoman, and a generous carrying friend and patron. 


I also want to add to this message a partial answer of “What is a woman?”  Since the “woke” society wants to redefine womanhood as well as motherhood as a “birthing person,” I wondered if they would try to cancel Mother’s Day.


“A woman is the carrier of righteousness.  If womanhood become unrighteous, a nation will fall.”


So, we can see why One World Order politicians would encourage changing the identity of a woman.


“A woman is the symbol of the church, and the nation of Israel.  Gal. 4:16:  Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.


A woman is the universal mother of life.”


Gen. 3:20:  Adam called his wife’s name Eve; she was the mother of all living.


A man and woman rightly related reveal the image of God.  For God is love.


I shared on email the writing I did on Motherhood this past week.  I had not intended to make it part of today’s message; but I had multiple positive responses; and since the last time I preached from it was 2012, I think this describes a woman far better than “birthing person” could ever do.






By:  Pastor Carolyn Sissom

May 12, 2012

(Written by Carolyn Sissom May 5, 1990 for an L.S.U. writing class)


Painting by: Mary Cassatt, “After the Bath”; The Cleveland Museum of Art


Motherhood, a word we so casually toss around in our everyday conversations is usually understood to mean “the state of being a mother”.  The only worthwhile word in that phrase is “being” which means existence of life; one that lives or exists; a human being.”  It is obvious that this description is far from adequate in the full context of motherhood.




Mary Cassatt in her painting “After the Bath” gives us a penetrating visual picture of motherhood.  Mrs. Cassatt was never a mother, yet she captures this state of being” and painted the soul of motherhood.


Psalm 113:9: “He makes the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children, Praise you the Lord.”


Mrs. Cassatt painted into this painting the mystery of the bonding of relationships surrounding motherhood.  It is a “supernatural” bonding between the mother and children, between their spirits and souls.  It is the miracle of nurturing that can only happen in a special moment.  This moment is capture on canvas in “After the Bath.”  The artist gives the viewer the gift of witnessing this miracle.  The children will soon be put to bed.  They will grow up.


As a mother, I remember these moments at the end of the day.  I would have been physically exhausted from endless chores, and frustrations; and with coping with the demands of young children.  Then there is a moment, a special time of tenderness, warmth and joy.  It is a time of unity, fellowship and understanding.


These moments equip the mother with the inner courage, hope and love that will be necessary to survive the future.  The teenage years lie ahead.  There will be a broken heart and temporary feelings of failure.  “What did I do wrong?” 


However, this moment of happiness, contentment, peace and pleasure portrayed so tenderly by Mrs. Cassatt makes the awesome task of motherhood worthwhile.





A woman, on whom “is placed the virtues of the race…...She is the torch carrier for morality from generation to generation”. (C.S. Lovett) She is rejected, ignored and scorned by teenagers, patronized by young adults, and tolerated by middle-aged adult children.  Sometimes she is honored, other times she is used, abused and abandoned.  She is the carrier of life!




With a womb.  An egg.  Impregnation.  A body forms.  Fingers.  Ears.  Nose.  Knuckles.  She feels the baby’s first kick.  A miracle.  Creation of life.  Pain.  Delivery.  Birth.  A cry.  Breathe of life.  A child is born.  Motherhood has begun.


Nurturing.  Sleepless nights.  Colic.  Dirty diapers.  Baby powder.  Joy.  Completeness.  Contentment.  Expectation.  Dreams.  Prayers.


The first word.  The first step.  Measles.  Scattered toys.  “Mommy I love you more than the who-o-ole world.”  Speaking in paragraphs.  She waves the child off to kindergarten and off to the first pangs of independence.


She watches the child grow.  “Mom, who made God?”  Cries with her over hurt feelings.  “Mother don’t hold my hand anymore!”  Room mother.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Scout leader.  Sunday school teacher.  “Mama, why do other mothers look like teenagers?”  Carpools.  Swim meets.  Ballgames.  Homework.  Outgrown sneakers.  First success: “Mom I made a ‘A” on my paper.”  First rejection: “Mom the boys said I couldn’t play on their team because I am a girl.”  First failure: “Mom I didn’t win the blue ribbon.”


Then braces.  Gut level truth.  Pain.  Birth of independence.  Rebellion.  Defiance.  “Mom, I hate you.”  “Mom, I hate myself.”  “But mo-oth-er, everyone else does it.”  “You’re square.”  “I hate life.”  “I have to have a….”


Make-up.  Boys.  Telephone.  Tears.  Proms.  Laughter.  Love.  Diet cokes.  Fads.  Testing.  Trying.  Pushing.  Resentment.  Each independent act and statement cuts the tie to the mother’s heart.


Graduation.  College.  Maturity.  “Thanks Mom!”  Marriage.  Another stage of motherhood has ended.  The job is finished.  The torch has been handed over.  The life process will be carried to the next generation.




Motherhood is feeling, loving, touching, smelling, seeing and hearing the growth of a child.  She did some things right.  She made some mistakes.  The fortunate mothers are the ones who are forgiven.  History and society will judge her depending on whether her child is a “vessel of honor or dishonor”. (11 Ti. 2:20)


She is free now to fulfill her life.  No more sweaty sneakers.  No more mounds of laundry.  No more clothes to pick up.  She is retired from active service.  Another identity.  Another beginning.


The memory of the pain of the teenage years fades as quickly as the memory of the pains of childbirth.  She remembers those special moments “After the Bath” when she read bedtime stories, said their prayers with them, tucked them in and kissed them goodnight.  “Mommy I love you more than the who-o-ole world.”  Yes, she would do it all again.  After all, without the pain and conflict, there can be no birth or maturing.


“Thanks Mom!”


Carolyn Sissom –May 5, 1990

Louisiana State University writing class




 May 12, 2012


The years have come and gone.  The River of Life continually flows. Triumph.  Great days of happiness.  Crisis.  Disappointments.  Peace.  Changes.  Joy.   Laughter.  Sons. Grandchildren.  Family Christmases.   Careers.  Challenges.  Rejection.  Love and being loved.  Goodness.   Continuing on loving and living life to the fullest.  Trusting God in all things and believing Him for His promises not only for her children, but for the extended family and all the children of the family of God.

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