Today is Mother’s Day. To those of you who are mothers I say, “Happy Mother’s Day.” I know that I wish I was with my mother today, but I also know that my three siblings are taking care of her back home. It will be a happy day for her.
However, perhaps because I am a pastor and am privy to the pains of people’s lives, I am also quite aware this is not a happy day for many. I am remembering the time I spoke with a couple who had tried for years to have children. They had gone through the expenses of fertility treatments, and the hours in doctors’ offices, but nothing worked. Finally they admitted that they would not be parents. A woman who wanted to be a mother is not a mother, and this is not a happy day for her.
I am remembering the woman who lost a son earlier this year. Things happen in life and sometimes we lose someone we love long before his time. I am remembering the woman who lost a child last year, and the woman who spoke in front of a meeting I was at last week who has lost two children and recently her husband too. When those women come to church they will be offered a flower that reminds them the flower of their lives was ripped from them. They will be forced to recall that the child they once held in their bosoms is now being held in the bosom of God, and while it may be helpful to recall that our loved ones are cared for by God it does not make the pain just go away. This is not a happy day for those women.
I am remembering the woman who told me she will not come to church on Mother’s Day. She had been married and divorced and never had children. “I think I would have been a good mother, don’t you think?” she once asked me. This is not a happy day for her.
I am remembering the children who lost their mothers and wish they could celebrate with them. I am remembering the children whose mothers have abandoned them and wish they could be like other children and have mothers who love them. I am remembering that some of this day is simply not a happy day for many people. As I go into the church and see how it is packed (Mother’s Day is typically the third highest attended day in the church after Christmas Eve and Easter) and full of beaming mothers with their doting children I will remember these other women for who this day is not good and the children who wish that it could be good for them.
Perhaps in the church we should begin to celebrate all women more. It was women that were at the cross with Jesus when all others had run away. It was women who went and saw that the tomb was empty. It was a woman that anointed his body for burial with costly perfume and sincere tears. It was women who Jesus lifted up in a world that tore them down and still does. It was women that he invited into places that men said were for men alone. We have done a good thing and we have learned the gift of celebrating mothers, but we in the church must still learn how to celebrate women, for it was women who knew that Jesus had the power of resurrection before he ever raised from dead, because he had already resurrected their personhood in a world that said they were less than people.
There is so much more to a woman than being a mother, and for those women who are not mothers or who have lost the fruit of their womb I hope tomorrow the find a church that says, “We are grateful for all women here today. We are grateful for the strong women who refuse to be bullied by men in a society that benefits men. We celebrate the barren women who still fill the world with love. We rejoice that it was women who knew the power of Jesus to give strength to the weak, and were strong while he was weak. We sing out loud perhaps the most famous Sunday school song that has ever been, “Jesus Loves Me,” which was written by a woman, and we stand here to say that Jesus loves you and lifts you up, and pray that this same Jesus gives us the courage to lift you up too!”
Do not get me wrong, I cannot wait to celebrate my wife with her children. But I will do so as I watch my daughter. And it is with great hope that I look forward to a world in which she is celebrated as more than a mother, but as a woman whose personhood is held up by the Christ and by Christ’s Church. By God’s grace it will be so.