This Sunday is Mother’s Day. You didn’t forget, did you? Don’t worry; there is still time. Mother’s Day is not a church holiday, yet it has a big impact on churches across the country. It is the third-best-attended Sunday of the year for most congregations. Not ours. We have a young church, and many of our folks will go home to be with their mothers and will go to church with them. I’ve gotten used to it, and, because I work every Mother’s Day, it isn’t my favorite holiday.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother, and she deserves a day to honor her, though I think Hallmark and the florists benefit more from Mother’s Day than most moms. This kind of forced appreciation should make us all a little uncomfortable. I wonder if Mother’s Day shouldn’t really be about calling America to a more humane national policy of family leave, universal health care, better childcare support for poor working mothers, and other policies that civilized nations have already. The United States makes itself feel better by setting aside a Sunday–not even a workday because that would affect capitalism–and honoring mothers in such a syrupy sweet way that anyone who dares to question it is unchristian and unpatriotic. Meanwhile, the plight of real mothers, especially working mothers, will be as bad on Monday as it was before, but capitalism doesn’t have to reduce its profit margin to create a more humane work place.
In the second church I pastored they honored the oldest mother, the newest mother, and the mother with the most children during worship on Mother’s Day. That church started to grow in the second year I was their pastor, and it didn’t cross my mind to end this tradition. I was young and naïve, but my dislike for Mother’s Day began that Sunday. The mother to whom I gave the flowers for having the most children was new to the church, and I did not realize that another woman had gotten the flowers for many, many years. That is until she pointed out, in a rather loud faux whisper, “At least all my children have the same father.” That poor mother never returned to our Methodist church, nor I suspect to any church. When I prayed that morning, however, I gave thanks that God was the “Father of us all.” This was before I knew about inclusive language, but I think I might have prayed that way anyhow.
Rev. Michael Piazza