Sunday was Mother’s Day, a day which this year we celebrate between observing Jesus’ resurrection and ascension.
But unlike Christmas and Easter, Mother’s Day sits on our church calendar with no apparent meaning or context. It is much more part of our Western culture than it is part of following Jesus. Yet, there is no reason why we can’t join with our culture and honour mothers and motherhood. After all, it gives us the opportunity to fulfil, if only in part, God’s commandment to honour our father and mother.
So on Sunday, I trust you took the opportunity to do just that, whether your mother is living or deceased. Yet, that will be easier some than for others.
Delights vs Realism
Sadly, for many in our community and churches Mother’s Day is a day of mixed emotions. On the one hand it conjures up memories of wonderful family life; of loving marriages and happy children. Thinking of our mothers brings warm and positive emotions to the surface. And when we think of our own children we remember the delights of motherhood.
In an ideal world all of us would have these feelings. In reality, it is true only for some. We can too easy fall prey to the idealised motherhood of TV, greeting cards, and gifts when the reality is that most women, if not all, do not fit these soft-focused fantasies.
The Bible shares this realism. Rachel, Hannah, and Sarah were infertile and experienced great heartache. Eve and Mary lost sons. And Ruth was childless and widowed at a young age. Far from fantasy, the Bible brings sober perspective to motherhood that is much more aligned with the realities of our world.
Today many women will experience motherhood as motherhood deferred due to late childbearing; or motherhood disrupted through divorce; or motherhood lost by infant/child death or miscarriage; and even motherhood unrealised due to infertility or undesired singleness.
Still others, male and female will experience the absence of motherhood due to distance, death, divorce or neglect. Many carry a scar or wound caused by the nurturing they failed to receive. Others will face again the suspicion that there is a link between their current emotional difficulties and their relationships with their mothers.
It is a day for celebrating with those who celebrate, and mourning with those who mourn
So despite the ideal of Mother’s Day, there lies close to the surface the reality of a broken world. It is a great day for honouring and celebrating our mothers, but it is good remember this is easier for some than others. It is a day for celebrating with those who celebrate, and mourning with those who mourn.
It is also a day to remember, that despite our experiences and memories, we all have the opportunity to know and experience the love of God. It is as we accept his forgiveness and forgive others, mothers included, that we can move on from the pain and hurt of the past and be part of God’s worldwide family. Here everyone is loved, acknowledged, respected and cared for.
What does Mother’s Day mean to you? Are you able to celebrate with genuine joy and thankfulness? Or have you been scarred by a difficult past? Either way, may I encourage you to move foward with hope and an attitude of acceptance and forgiveness.
Stephen L Baxter