Pastor Devin Strong, Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church.
I hope everyone who celebrated Mother’s Day this past Sunday enjoyed themselves. I’d like to share a couple of self-deprecating Mother’s Day stories that I think you’ll find relevant even after the celebration. The first happened in 1991, when I was a brand-new pastor at a parish in rural Ohio. My wife Chris and I were married, but didn’t yet have children. Being newly ordained, I didn’t realize Mother’s Day was considered a “high holy day,” so I mentioned the celebration in my prayers, but not in my sermon. After church, one of the matriarchs stopped to speak to me.
“How come you didn’t mention Mother’s Day at all in today’s sermon?
I was waiting for it!”
Being young and rather stupid, I answered, “Well, Mother’s Day is not a liturgical holiday,” thinking that would settle the matter. I’ve never forgotten the look she gave me, or her wizened reply: “Well, sometimes, Pastor Strong, you have to preach on things that aren’t liturgical!”
I learned a lot from that experience, yet I still managed to get myself into even more trouble the next year when I decided to preach an earnest Mother’s Day sermon about the greatest mother of all – Mother God. The congregation’s confused if not troubled faces told me that I’d definitely missed the mark with them – again. I’d gone from doing too little to doing too much. Since then, I’ve gained a little more wisdom and learned to find a more congenial place in the middle, where everyone can grow together. And, because of how much our mothers do for us, I learned to always approach Mother’s Day seriously! Though our culture has evolved in terms of parenting, the majority of parental duties – emotionally, if not physically — still usually fall more heavily on mothers than fathers. Many dads are able to primarily focus on their jobs — whereas many moms are challenged with both earning money and parenting. Some of the hardest-working and exhausted people I know are young working mothers; yet we still don’t effectively recognize all that entails and/ or reward it appropriately. Honoring them on Mother’s Day is the very least we can do to show our appreciation.
For people whose mothers are deceased or those who’ve suffered the personal loss of a child, Mother’s Day may have been a very difficult day to get through.
For those unable to bear children or those made the decision not to, the day might have been awkward. Stepmothers and others who nurture children by teaching, mentoring, or fostering might have felt out of place or left out altogether. Hopefully, we didn’t make assumptions and weren’t afraid to ask folks how they were doing this past Mother’s Day. If we made some blunders, hopefully we’ll make it a point to do better next year.
The greatest gift any parent can give a child is the gift of “presence,” a good example of a feminine attribute. God embodies the best of both masculine and feminine attributes and demonstrates both power and presence.
Were God only powerful and not also nurturing, much like a mother, it would be frightening.
We want whoever is crying with us to also help us with our struggles. The truth is, we need as many adjectives as possible for God, for even they only capture the smallest glimpse of who God is!
God loves you, and so do I!