Saturday, 12 May 2012

On Mother's day and the Church

Peter Lockhart

Historically Mother’s Day as we know it has not been around very long, about 100 years or so. Mothering Sunday does have a longer history but it too does not date back very far.

The inspiration for these days to honour mothers arose out of a range of issues including:

• a day on which Mary the Mother of Jesus was honoured,
• a response to the horror of war and a movement for peace,
• and remembering of mothers who had died.

In addition, there is a sense in which honouring the role of motherhood has become a key aspect of what Mother’s Day is about.

Whilst there is no doubt there are valuable motivations that lie behind Mother’s Day like many things in life it is a day which is rife with many problems as well.

To begin with Mother’s Day for many is a painful day. It is a day when people remember the broken relationships of their family; a day when a mother that has passed away is mourned; a day when mothers who have lost children feel keenly aware of such losses; a day in which whilst many celebrate the gift of motherhood other mothers, ignorant of the celebration, struggle simply to live through another day.

Added to these very real human emotional struggles is the fact that mother’s day has been taken over by the consumerist juggernaut of Western culture. Ann Jarvis, who had campaigned to have Mother’s Day recognised in the USA, later fought against the commercialism of the day and before her death is said to have expressed her regret at ever starting the day.

As followers of Jesus who have enthusiastically embraced such cultural celebrations it is important that we are measured in how we enter into the spirit of the celebration. It is important for us to reflect on how what we will do honours the God revealed to us in and through Jesus of Nazareth who came to reconcile and renew all things, including what it means to be a mother.

In what ways might your celebration of Mother’s Day honour and give hope to those for whom this day is painful? How do you resist the consumerism of days such as these and celebrate in a way which focuses on people not goods?

Rather than let Mother's day take precedence in worship I am setting aside a time in worship this week for a Mother's Reflection (in place of the Children's Address).  I am going to ask questions of Mother's of different geenrations and compare some of the changes.  This will link with the sermon I am praching about "Singing a new song". 

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