We don’t make a big deal about Mother’s Day in our worship services at LPC. We don’t ask anyone to stand and we don’t give out flowers. Some people are disappointed. Please, those of you who are disappointed and those of you who have not thought much about it, read this piece which I think says it well. Here’s the PDF of The Wide Spectrum of Mothering.
We don’t make a big deal about Mother’s Day in our worship services at LPC, but that does not mean that mothers aren’t a big deal. We live in a world full of pastoral sensitivities about Mother’s Day, but also a world where motherhood, once as non-controversial as apple pie, is one of the many battlefields in the culture wars. Some argue that motherhood as anything less than what is depicted in misty photo on a Hallmark card is a travesty and that Hallmark motherhood is to be protected at all costs. Others depict that same Hallmark picture as representing a patriarchal and oppressive social construct, the sooner done away with the better.
May I, acknowledging the wide spectrum of mothering and hoping to dodge the bullets on the field of cultural battles, say that mothers are a big deal.
Perhaps mothering is paid no higher honor than the honor it is paid in the words of the Lord recorded by the prophet Isaiah, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13 NRSV) The message was first given to the Exiles who have returned, hopes shattered, to a ruined Jerusalem. It has been heard since then as messianic, it anticipates Jesus and his promises, and apocalyptic, it looks to the joyful destination to which God is leading the elect. We often use the verse at memorial or funeral services.
When God wants to give his disappointed people hope, when he wants to describe the work of the Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son, when he wants to tell us about the outcome of our lives and our world’s life, he says, “as a mother comforts her child.”
Not all mothers comfort and not all women who would gladly have comforted a child become mothers. But you don’t need some thick commentary, a linguist or a cultural anthropologist, to understand the passage. Our minds grasp the meaning of the analogy and our hearts welcome with eager anticipation the coming of such comfort.
Mothers are a big deal in part because they comfort like no others are able to comfort. That comfort is not only normative – all of us get the analogy; it is the way God intended it to be. Not all of us experience mothers as God intended mothers to be. Not every woman, even some who desperately want to be mothers, are able to comfort their children. We live in a fallen world. Amazingly, though, when God want to give us a glimpse of the world made right, he says it will be as when a mother comforts her child. That and more.
Mothers can give us a glimpse of God.
As our blogger says, “Mothering is not for the faint of heart.” It is a very big deal. God intended it that way. All the work and all the sorrow and all the joy. All the comfort.
So, to Mom, to Becky, to Katharine and Katie (and, yes, all you LPC moms and more) – Happy Mother’s Day. You really are a big deal.
See you Sunday!