More than likely, you’re reading this column before Sunday, which is a good thing in the event that you forget that this Sunday is Mother’s Day, and you still have time to make sure you remember yours. Most people, however, don’t forget. If for no other reason, their social media feeds won’t allow it. I know my Inbox and Facebook feeds have been overrun all week with reminders and suggestions for how to remember dear old Mom.
Speaking of the economic impact of Mother’s Day, I understand that it is the third biggest holiday in the U.S., with 113 million cards sold and another $28 billion spent on meals and presents, including $2.6 billion on roses. Needless to say, from an industry standpoint, Mother’s Day is a big deal. But that’s also the case from a church standpoint. My experience is purely anecdotal; I haven’t actually run the numbers. But I would not be going out on too much of a limb to say that Mother’s Day is also the third highest attendance day in worship, only coming in behind Christmas and Easter.
Robert Fulghum, the minister/writer, in his best-selling book, It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It, told the story of the time a member approached him in the vestibule after worship on the Sunday before Mother’s Day with this announcement and admonition: “I just wanted you to know that I’m bringing my mother to church next Sunday, Reverend. You can talk about anything you want. But it had better include Mother, and it had better be good.”
In my early years as a preacher, I always tried to craft a sermon specifically designed for mothers on Mother’s Day. But then I began serving churches like ours that followed the sacred calendar instead of the secular one, and Mother’s Day always falls at some point in the season of Easter. And how do you relegate Easter to a subservient position even to something as important as Mother’s Day?
The answer lies in some integrative thinking, where you seek the common ground between two seemingly opposing forces. In this case, we cannot forget the moms who gave us life. Indeed, someone has said that technically, we celebrate two Mother’s Day each year – the second Sunday of May and the day we were born. That’s because on our birthday all we did was show up. It was our mothers who did all the work. And the same is true of the new life Easter faith promises. As with our physical birth, so with our spiritual birth do we have a debt to someone outside of ourselves who made it possible for us to experience a newness of life that will never know end.
Those two gifts come together for me in the knowledge that my Mother has gone on to be with Jesus, and the remembrance that it was she who took me to church when my father was busy building his career and was not at the time a regular church attendee. Fortunately, he became one later, even to the point of chairing every committee of significance in my home church. But it was my Mother who made sure that my sister and I were in our early years brought up in a community of faith where we could learn the lessons of God’s new life through the Risen Jesus. So, I have no problem blending the two emphases, and you probably don’t either.
I do hope to see you this Sunday, and it may be that you’ll be bringing your mother along. Certainly, you will at least be bringing her along as will I in your memories. I can promise you one thing. Sunday will be good, as every Sunday always is. It will be good, not because I will have something so much to offer as it will be good because the presence of the Risen Jesus will be with us. And together with the cherished memories of the mothers who gave us birth, we will be celebrating the gift of life, both now and forevermore, which none of us, quite frankly, can ever afford to forget.
“Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” (Proverbs 31:31).