This Sunday’s sermon will not be about Mother’s Day. Instead, it will be about how we, as Christians, picture God in how we see Jesus. That’s sort of where the lectionary texts, particularly the 1 Peter and the John passages led me.
We will acknowledge the day of thanksgiving. There will be a mother-daughter quartet during the worship And I will make a special time in the prayers for people to raise up thanksgivings for their mothers and to offer prayers relating to mothering.
Mothers are incredibly powerful people in most of our lives. Hopefully and usually to the good — for the ways they were able to care and nurture us, to parent us and help us find our way to healthy and whole adulthood.
And even those of us who have had moms who couldn’t serve that role so well, well, still they play a central part in the drama of our lives, even long after they have gone from our lives.
But I’m not going to preach on motherhood. First, because not everyone has a mom. Either because they never did know the woman who gave them birth. Or because they had two dads. Or… I can think of 3 more situations, but there are probably many more.
But most of us have or had moms. But Mother’s Day can be terribly triggering for some people. There are people who grieve for their mothers. People whose mothers are / were abusive or just unkind. Mothers whose children do not love them. Mothers who are separated from their children. Women whose children have died. Women who long for children, but cannot have them. Women who are mothers and feel totally overwhelmed by the experience. Or fear they are failing at motherhood. And more.
Finding a way to celebrate all that is good about motherhood in a way that makes room for folks and their feelings when their first reaction is less than good, I just don’t know if in a world that already feels half crazy these days, we need the trigger.
Mother’s Day in the US, unrelated to other historical and cultural celebrations of motherhood that can be traced back thousands of years, was originally created in the early 20th century by Anna Jarvis, a Philadelphian, to honor her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for injured Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. Ann Reeves Jarvis also created Mother’s Day Work Clubs to address public health issues. But further back, Julia Ward Howe, best known for writing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” had begun celebrating Mother’s Day in Boston as early as 1870. In this sense, Mother’s Day originally was about peace, justice and the common good.
After successfully getting all the states to celebrate Mother’s Day by 1911, Ann Jarvis convinced Woodrow Wilson in 1914 to sign a proclamation making the second Sunday in May a national recognized
But as early as the 1920s, Ann Jarvis was disheartened by the way the holiday had become commercialized. Hallmark and other businesses had seen a new market to exploit. Ann Jarvis began organizing “Boycott Mother’s Day” rallies across the country.
I’m giving Mother’s Day a rest as the central focus for the second Sunday in May. You might consider giving Hallmark a rest too. Maybe we should and maybe read Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation of 1870? What does it means to us today as our nation continues to struggle and fall short of peace at home and abroad? How does Howe’s challenge speak to our nation’s ongoing failures with racial equality?
Maybe justice is the best gift we could give all of our mothers. Maybe justice is what I really ought to preach about. Yes, I could really preach on peace and justice and get all political. Particularly with all that is going on. Where does your faith touch on all the national news about the White House and the FBI that is swirling around this week?
I’m going to stick with Jesus as the face we have of God. But I’m going to challenge us to recognize our faith is more than something purely personal, solace for life’s sorrows. Rather, it is how we are to live in our families, and in our communities and in our world. So where’s your faith come together with mothers and peace and justice and this moment in American history?
See you on Sunday,