Mother’s Day was last Sunday. I must confess that it has never been a “big deal” to me. My mother has been deceased since 1989 and my father died on Mother’s Day in 1994. And although these losses are part of my disinterest, the truth is that I’ve never been big on what I call “Hallmark Holidays.” “Hallmark Holidays” are those holidays that seemed fixated on making us feel obligated to buy something in order to show our mother/father/grandparents/partner that we love them.
For my part, if my kids remember and send me a card, text or other expressions of love for Mother’s Day, I am content. Gifts are a bonus, but completely unnecessary and I am never offended if they don’t get me a gift.
Many people feel differently. They see Mother’s Day as an opportunity to pay their mother special attention, to show their love, and to celebrate motherhood.
Mother’s Day is a secular holiday that has made its way into the church, with some churches offering special gifts, recognitions, or litanies that celebrate moms. I do not object to this, but do not believe that secular holidays deserve the same inclusion in worship as do holy-days. I have no hang-ups about praying for mothers in our prayers of intercession, but that is generally the extent to which I acknowledge the Mother’s Day phenomenon in worship. It’s the same for Father’s Day.
Without getting into theological discussions about why secular holidays should not be treated as church holy-days, there are some very pastoral reasons why Mother’s Day and Father’s Day should be addressed carefully in a worship setting. After all, not everyone has/had a mother or father deserving a $5 Hallmark Card.
Some people had parents who were absent or abusive or who abandoned their children.
Some people have deceased parents, who may have left behind grief or anger or unfinished business.
Some people have difficult or painful or ugly relationships with a parent.
Some people have no relationship with a parent.
Some people desire to be parents but cannot.
Some people are adopted and may have feelings of abandonment by birth parents.
Some people have parents who are sick or dying or have dementia.
Some people grew up with no parents except state-appointed foster parents, who may or may not have fulfilled their role with love and compassion.
For many, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day can mean something quite different than it does for those of us who were blessed to have good, albeit imperfect, parents. While everyone may understand the concept of these secular holidays, their personal experience can make these days painful or simply meaningless.
So for all of you who did not have June Cleaver or Carol Brady or Marion Cunningham or Lorelai Gilmore as your mother and for whom Mother’s Day is not exactly a day of celebration, know that you are not alone. Many people share your less-than-ideal mothering experience.
And as a pastor, I want to say the regardless of the imperfections of all parents and their (our) tendency to inflict these imperfections upon our children, there is One who is always the perfect Mother and perfect Father, who loves you unconditionally, who forgives you all YOUR imperfections, and who will always be “there” for you.
However, it is important to know that baking cookies is NOT in God’s parental job description. Pretty much everything else is.
May God bless you with the sure and certain knowledge you are God’s beloved child-always.