In early May, 2007, I wrote a column about Mother’s Day to the congregation I was serving at the time. Over the years I have edited it as life has progressed, but the essence of it never changed.

Some may think that it would change this year because it’s Erin’s ‘First Mother’s Day.’ As much as we are looking forward to celebrating with Anna Catherine, one of the reasons that I wrote this message to begin with is that what we see on this day is not always reality. In fact, this is not Erin’s first Mother’s Day, even as it is her first Mother’s Day where she will get to hold, change, feed, and play with her child. The children that we never got to hold will always be in our hearts and minds, and Mother’s Day – along with Father’s Day – will always have a little bit of an indescribable twinge.

It is in that spirit that I share with you the 2016 edition of my Mother’s Day column.

Grace and Peace, Lamar

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A few years ago, while here watching television with Erin, I saw the most ridiculous commercial that got us talking about worship this Sunday. One of the seemingly endless jewelry store ads shown during this week every year, it reminded viewers that “You only have one day to celebrate mom – so make it special.” How absolutely contrary to not only good sense and manners, but also to the Christian faith that we profess to live under. This mindset, however, is one of the reasons why this Sunday, Mother’s Day, is one of the most dangerous for pastors and also one of the most misunderstood days in the life of the church.

I will never forget the first Mother’s Day that I had in my first post-seminary appointment. We were in the midst of the Easter season, and I preached from the lectionary texts for the day. It was about two o’clock that afternoon when my phone rang, and the matriarch of the congregation was on the phone asking me why I did not preach about mothers on Mother’s Day. Who did I think I was? After all, “People go to church on Mother’s Day with mom expecting a sermon on motherhood, moms, and how great it all is.” Her tone indicated that there was no way I could give an answer that would satisfy her, but she did get me thinking:

  • How should we communicate to people that the church is to be a place of worship – worship of God, not anyone else (even mom)?

  • How should we communicate that if you have to wait until Mother’s Day to let mom know how much she means to you then you don’t have much of a relationship with mom to begin with?

  • How should we communicate that when the church makes a big deal about the oldest mother and the youngest mother that chances are very good that there are women sitting in the pews who are inwardly weeping (if they show up at all on this day) because they know that they will never be a mother, never have a chance at the award for oldest, youngest, or most prolific mother?

  • How do we communicate that while Mother’s Day is the day on which the most phone calls are made that there are women in our midst who will not get that phone call from a beloved child this year because they had to endure every mother’s nightmare of outliving their child?

  • How do we communicate that there are many mothers and children who have no relationship at all and all that this day does is bring pain and sorrow for pain that in some cases goes back decades?

  • How do we communicate this message to those for whom for whom Mother’s Day is hard because they will not be able to call mom this year since mom has passed away?

This Sunday, as is the case every Sunday, we will gather to worship God. We will gather to give thanks for everything that God has done, is doing, and will do. Mother’s Day will be recognized – but in the context of a God who is much bigger than anything we can imagine. Let us remember that Sunday, like every day, is not about any one or anything but the triune God.

Planning to make a big deal about mom on Mother’s Day? Why wait? Call mom now. Write mom now. Send flowers now. Don’t wait to be prompted by Madison Avenue.

Planning to hide from the world on Mother’s Day because of the pain of the day? Know that I am in prayer for you now.

Either way, join us for worship this Sunday as we explore again the God who not only provides the great things in life, but also is big enough to get us through the most difficult times in life.

Grace and Peace, Lamar