Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation

by Jonathan Kozol

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In her Mother’s Day sermon, what virtues does Barbara Ann Groover encourage the women of the congregation to cultivate?

In her Mother's Day sermon, Barbara Ann Groover encourages the women in the congregation to trust in God, be thankful in all situations, comfort others, and have no fear.

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In his book Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, Jonathan Kozol describes and quotes a Mother's Day sermon from Barbara Ann Groover. The sermon is based on is Genesis 16, the story of Hagar, a slave woman who bore a son to Abraham and then faced the wrath of her mistress, Sarah (even though the whole thing was Sarah's idea in the first place).

In the sermon, Groover speaks directly to the women in the congregation, and she proposes certain virtues for them to cultivate. The first is a firm trust in God no matter how bad one's circumstances might seem. Hagar, after all, was without water in the desert, and God came to the her aid and gave her water for her son. No matter what a woman is facing, God is beside her, listening to her and helping her, and women need to place their confidence in Him.

Groover also urges women to be thankful no matter what their situation. “In spite of oppression, in spite of bigotry, in spite of violence, O Lord,” she prays, “I can still thank You for my children!” (227). There is no room for despair if one has faith in God. There is always hope.

Women who trust God and are thankful and have faith and hope must reach out to other women and comfort and support them. They must show God to the people around them. They must speak out about their faith.

Finally, Groover exhorts her listeners, “I ask you to love the Lord that Hagar loved and not to be afraid” (228). God sees everyone and loves everyone. Each person's name is written on His hand, Groover asserts. There is no room for fear, only trust, gratitude, and love.

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