This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of “Mother’s Day.” In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law a bill which would make the observance a national holiday.
Florists love this day, as many people choose to show their love and affection for moms by sending her flowers. Last year, the industry made $2.6 billion in flower sales and related gifts for the occasion. It is the 2nd highest gift giving holiday, behind only Christmas. Make sure you get those restaurant reservations for Sunday if you can, if the place where you go won’t take them, just hope your pastor doesn’t forget what going on and gets you out around noon.
While this can be a very meaningful day, it’s also a difficult one for some people. Not all women are mothers, first of all. And, not all children have good memories of their moms. For some families, this is the first Mother’s Day since mom’s death and for this reason it’s tough. We also must keep in mind the many single moms out there, and that some women feel alienated on this day because they wanted children but were unable to have them. Infertility affects about 10% Americans, so for these individuals and others, it’s a hard day dealing with loss and grief.
This holiday in particular, is a good time to remember the school girls in Nigeria who were kidnapped by terrorists. These men are threatening to sell these girls into slavery and the sex trade. On April 15, 230 of these young women were studying to better themselves by a government sponsored school, and now no on knows where they are. The world is rallying to their cause, and social media is abuzz with #bringbackourgirls with the hopes of raising awareness and speeding up the process of locating them before its too late. There will be many moms and dads in Nigeria who are going through a nightmare right now, and we need to remember them. We must also remember especially those young girls and pray for their safety and release.
It’s tough to know how to recognize the holiday without alienating people. It’s on everyone’ mind, yet there are many different emotional reactions to Mother’s Day. As a pastor, I want to be sympathetic and affirming of women who approach this day with their own backgrounds and family dynamics.
Sermon wise, I’ve decided to go with a passage of Scripture that relates to Jesus and his mother. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, the disciple took her into his home (John 19.25-27 NIV).
Mary was standing by her son as he died on the cross. She was there with him at a wedding at Cana of Galilee where he performed his first miracle, which began his public ministry (John 2.1-5). Mary was there when his ministry started. Now, she is here when he ministry was coming to an end. She was with him at a wedding. Now she is here at his funeral. Mary was there.
I don’t sense that Jesus was overly sentimental about his mother or family. It’s not to say that he didn’t care, which is evidenced that one of the last seven “words” of Jesus on the cross related to his mother. However, it’s important to note that Jesus’ overall view was the Kingdom of God and the family of God. On one occasion when the crowd was accusing Jesus of being crazy, Jesus’ mother and his brothers arrived near the house, supposedly to get control of the situation. “Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him and told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ Then Jesus asked, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother‘” (Mk 3.31-34).
Jesus showed compassion and care for his mother in making sure she had a place to live after his death. John took her “into his home” from that point on. The care of mothers can be complicated one, especially as they age. I have had numerous conversations with older children who have told me “we had to put mother in a nursing home” because they couldn’t take care of her on their own. It’s a hard decision.
While on the cross, Jesus made mention of his mother to ensure she was cared for and she would have John to take his place in the family. That’s a good lesson. I also believe it’s important to see that Mary was “standing by the cross” near her son during the most difficult and painful period of his life (and hers). I wonder if she recalled the words of the priest in the temple upon presenting Jesus “a sword will pierce your soul.”
Mary was standing by Jesus. That’s where we need to be on this Mother’s Day weekend. Let’s give thanks for the godly women in our lives and recognize that we are part of a larger and more lasting family as brothers and sisters in Christ.