I would have liked to have been in the House of Representatives when the bill to create Mother’s Day was voted down in 1908. Whew. What were those guys thinking? (Remember, in those days it was an all-male club.) Clearly, they saw the error of their ways, and in 1911 made Mother’s Day a national holiday. The day is now celebrated in forty-seven countries. The impetus for the holiday came from Anna Jarvis, who wanted to find a way to celebrate her mother’s amazing compassion and acts of mercy toward others. But for those of you who think commercialism is something new, by the 1920’s, Jarvis was boycotting the day because of how companies turned the day into a profit-making machine. OK, the more things change—the more they remain the same.
The one thing I need to say, before I say anything else, is this day can be both the happiest and saddest at the same time. For those of us whose mother’s made all the difference in the world, there are those whose mother’s challenges made their lives difficult. For those who will be hearing from their children this day, there are others whose children cannot or will not call, and still there are other women who mourn their inability to “get pregnant” and become a mother. So like any other “holiday” it carries with it the full weight of real life.
Nevertheless, we all have mothers and this is an opportunity to celebrate with gratitude the gift of life and guidance, and love our moms as they were/are, with grace and joy. Specifically, we can give thanks for “Mom’s” as they reflect God’s love and desire for what is the best for, and in each of us. These three passages, all from Paul’s loving letter to the Philippian church, reflect a pastor’s hopes for the Philippian congregation, and are so similar to a mother’s desire for her children:
I pray that your love will keep on growing more and more, together with true knowledge and perfect judgment, so that you will be able to choose what is best. Then you will be free from all impurity and blame on the Day of Christ. Your lives will be filled with the truly good qualities which only Jesus Christ can produce, for the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 3:12-14 (TEV)
I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, my friends, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight toward the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Christ Jesus to the life above.
Philippians 4:8-9 (TEV)
In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.
The challenge for every mom, every dad, and every person in the life of a child is to team with God’s activity in that child’s life, with love, grace, and discipline. Let’s work backwards…
I don’t know about you, but I needed discipline. I’m laughing because my mom now sits with us at St. Andrew, and can personally attest to the truth that I would have taken the “softer, easier way,” whenever possible. The phrase I remember when most school report cards were delivered home was: “This is good, but you could have done better.” She was right. We all needed, and maybe still need someone to pull, push, and guide us. Loving discipline is a great gift, although sometimes it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
Moms have seen us at our best and at our worst. Grace is hanging onto the best and letting the “not so good” fade into the past. Grace looks for what is good and builds on the possibilities. For me, patience is rooted in grace, and moms at their best reflect God’s patience with us over and over again as we learn and grow.
The greatest gift of all is love. Our relationships with our moms can be wonderful and at the same time complicated, but at their core is the bond of love that reflects the steadfast love of God. “Chesed” is difficult to translate into English, but conveys the idea of steadfastness and persistence. One translator connected “Chesed” love with the old English word “troth,” pointing to the loyalty and faithfulness of “Chesed.” Psalm 100:5: “For the LORD is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.”
Join us as we celebrate both Mother’s Day and God’s steadfast love for each of us—the kind of love that longs for our “best.”