Archive for May, 2016

Mother’s Day in Church: Healthy or Harmful?

May 7, 2016

This weekend we celebrate mothers on a national scale. It began with the intent of bringing healing and has led to silent hurt. For churches it is one of the most quietly painful Sundays. While I believe we ought to embrace and thank our own mother I question how many people suffer silently on this celebrated Sunday?

ann-reeves-jarvis-program-cover-wvrhcLet me begin with its history. Anna Reeves Jarvis in the mid-1800’s organized a “Mother’s Work Day” to gain awareness and bring together mothers who lost children from both sides of the Civil War in order to care for the poor health and sanitary conditions.

After her death, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, sought to create a national, “Mother’s Day.” Following its commercialization, she lobbied for its abolishment saying, “I wanted it to be a day of sentiment, not profit.” She even opposed greeting cards saying it was, “a poor excuse for the letter you are too lazy to write.” Ms. Jarvis died in 1948 blind and poor, never having children of her own.

The holiday we celebrate today has become quite distant from its original intent. If ever there was a time for a holiday to unite the country it would be now. A holiday created to bring grieving mothers to the aid of the less fortunate in their communities; to have a movement of wounded healers, that would be something.

sculpture2_645_469_55On Mother’s Day Sunday I stand in the pulpit and see a different scene than the one promoted in commercials. I see the hurting more than the healing. I see the daughter who still grieves her mom who died too early. I see the empty seats of the lovely woman and her husband who went through many failed pregnancies and the mother of a stillborn who couldn’t find the strength to attend worship today. I see the women who never married, the woman who had to give up her child, the one who had an abortion, and the one who outlived her teen son.

Let us be thoughtful when honoring women for one aspect of womanhood that we do not do greater harm in the church. As I read my Bible I see many strong faithful women who struggled with motherhood for years. Their seats may have been empty tomorrow had they lived in our generation. I see faithful women like Hannah and Elizabeth who were barren for years, Naomi who lost her husband and two sons and her adopted daughter Ruth who lost her husband after 10 childless years. Remember Mary, a pregnant teen due to unusual circumstances. And so the list goes. I wonder how a similar woman feels on Sunday when she gets a consolation door prize though not a mother. This a holiday was meant to bring hurting moms and young widows together and to encourage us to remember our own mothers before they are gone. So let us honor your mother but quietly and not at the expense of other faithful childless women.

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