“If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
Is the church able to suffer with those who suffer while rejoicing with those who should be honored? I think so, and Mother’s Day gives us a chance to prove it. Mother’s Day is always a challenge for pastors and congregants as we seek to honor and celebrate our moms in appropriate ways. Most pastors will receive an email or a letter telling them how they should have done it differently or been more sensitive or more celebrative. Some say, do nothing because it’s too painful for some, others say, honor moms but acknowledge the pain that is in the room, and still others say it’s all about moms, so go all out, rejoicing over the wonderful gift and influence of motherhood. After all, everyone has a mother and it’s all about honoring their sacrificial example and influence in our lives.
But isn’t worship all about Jesus? Have we placed undue pressure on the pastor and our congregations by focusing too much on Mother’s Day? The true focus and celebration of motherhood should take place in the family, and from one person to another. More than anything my mom will want to hear from me on Mother’s Day, not be recognized as a mom at church. Stacy will want to hear from our children, about how much they love and honor her life and influence.
I know women who will not come to worship on Sunday because it is too painful – having just lost a mom, or longing to be a mom and unable to be so. Perhaps the pain is the result of an unnecessary or exaggerated emphasis on moms. Our focus in worship is always Jesus. In many ways, Mother’s Day feels like the Sunday that lands close to July 4th or Memorial Day or Veteran’s Day. Those are wonderful days to focus on our freedom, those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, and for those who have served our country. But is this a church thing? And should it be a priority for the short time we have in worship together? Hallmark has challenged us to bring our attention to certain holidays when some have very little to do with the church and the advancement of the kingdom. Over time, it seems we have adopted (again) the stuff of this world and “baptized” it into the church to become a part of our liturgy. I’m all for celebrating moms, but let’s the keep the focus where it needs to be. For every motherless child, Jesus is the answer. For every childless woman, Jesus is the answer. For every miscarriage, adoption that didn’t come through, for every death, or struggle with infertility, Jesus is the answer. We will do well to make sure He dominates our attention and affection this Sunday and every Sunday.
At PCBC, we will share a version of the words below. In another venue we will share a responsive reading together, sharing the same essence, acknowledging the pain and grief of motherhood. I want our entire congregation to feel what others feel and for everyone to know we are in this together. We are a family. “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:26
Acknowledging the Wide Continuum of Mothering – by Amy Young
- To those who gave birth this year to their first child – we celebrate with you
- To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
- To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
- To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away – we mourn with you
- To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
- To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
- To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
- To those who have disappointment, heartache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
- To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
- To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
- To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
- To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
- To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
- To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
- To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren – yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
- To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
- To those who placed children up for adoption – we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
- And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
I’ve often said that, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” The greater the love, the greater the grief. There is no grief greater than the grief of a mother, because there is no love greater than the love of a mother. This Sunday, let’s honor our moms appropriately, teach the church to be the church, but let’s keep our minds attention and our hearts affection on Jesus, the Giver of all good gifts, including (and especially) our moms.
Happy Mother’s Day, mom.