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Mother’s Day…

May is a month of milestones in my family. This past Sunday, my son Tate was confirmed as a disciple and as a member of the church. Just a few miles down Franklin Road at the very same hour, my niece Caroline was confirmed. In just a few days my family will be gathering to celebrate my nephew’s graduation from Tennessee Tech, and a week later we’ll gather again for my niece’s high school graduation. It’s a busy month, and I’m just hoping I can get away with wearing the same dress to all of these festivities.

May brings another milestone in my family, one that is less festive than a confirmation or a graduation. This Sunday will be the first Mother’s Day without my mother. She passed away in October, and although the disease of Alzheimer’s kept her from reading our Mother’s Day cards or enjoying our visits for many years, I will still be grieving her absence on Sunday.

Honestly, I have never made a big deal out of Mother’s Day, even after I became a mother. First of all, I’ve been suspicious about its origins. Some have suggested that the holiday was invented by Hallmark as an excuse to sell cards. According to Wikipedia, that great source of information, “the modern holiday of Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908, when Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother. She then began a campaign to make ‘Mother’s Day’ a recognized holiday in the United States,” which eventually happened in 1914. So, it’s a recent holiday. And it is a secular holiday, not one rooted in the tradition of the church or in our faith.

As a pastor I’ve also had mixed feelings about Mother’s Day because it often accentuates the grief of people who’ve lost their mothers or whose mothers were sources of pain and strife in their lives. It can be a painful day for those who have struggled with infertility and miscarriage. On top of that, not everyone has a mother who’s been part of their lives, and the holiday tends to leave some people out. For these reasons among others, we tend not to emphasize Mother’s Day in worship.

At the same time, as we move toward Sunday, I will be thinking about my own mother a little more than usual. The day does give me an opportunity to reflect and remember. There was something about my mom’s love for me that reflected God’s unconditional love. Of course, she wasn’t perfect. She drove me crazy at times, and I drove her crazy in my own unique way. But her “mothering love” was a powerful safety net in my life. I always knew that, no matter what, she would always love me and welcome me home. That was one of her many sayings that has stayed with me: “You can always come home.”

Regardless of our feelings about the secular holiday Mother’s Day, perhaps this week will give us an opportunity to reflect on those people in our lives–male or female, parents or friends–who have shown us “mothering love.” And most of all, perhaps we can take some time to reflect on God’s mothering love for us, whispering to us that, no matter who we are or what has happened, we can always, always come home.