Archive for May, 2017

Happy Mother’s Day! and…

This weekend in many if not most churches in America there will be the celebration of Mother’s Day. It sounds like a Hallmark holiday, but it arose from a service of thanks and remembrance in a Methodist church in West Virginia back in the early 1900s.  Anna Jarvis wanted to honor her mother who had cared for wounded on both sides of the American Civil War.  The remembrance was not only about mothers but also about the beauty of sacrificial service. From there quickly the celebration took off and became a national holiday.

Origin of modern Mother’s Day

But, here’s the thing.  This celebration presents a conflict for the church. First, we want to thank God for mothers, those who have been faithful servants of God by raising children, by being God’s ambassadors in the lives of the next generation.  Serving in this way is a high and holy calling, reflecting the love, patience, and sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. Mothers bear the realities of life, and they need support and care themselves that often is in short supply.  Our church has been blessed by gracious servant-moms that reflect the nurturing love of the Lord. We want to stand with the mothers of our community of faith.  We thank God for them.

Additionally, because the church of Jesus is an extended family, all of our women become surrogate mothers.  Often Sandy and I have remarked at how our children have been loved and encouraged by other women and men in our church.  In a Sunday School class or through friendship or simply through modeling, every woman is called to be a mother and every man a spiritual father.  We thank God that as parents we are not alone in the nurturing of our children, but we have a whole congregation alongside us.

Two moms I love the most: Sandy and my mother…

This past year, not long after Mother’s Day, my mom passed away. As a result, I find that Mother’s Day holds a poignancy this year that it has not in the past.  Yes, I miss her. How she brought out the spirit of adventure in my brothers and me. How she helped anchor my life in Christ and fulfilled her mission to love and nurture me. My response this year is to walk in gratitude and to remember.  Many of us will be doing this this year as we miss our moms.

But, second, I also feel a deep concern over Mother’s Day.  For some of us, Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of an abusive mother or a mother that was not in the picture or not supportive. You may not want to remember your mother.  So, we must always be sensitive and desire that this time not wound anyone but instead bring peace and healing.

Here is an even deeper concern I have. Through God’s grace, I am repeatedly reminded that my identity is in Christ, as a child of the living God.  This means that every aspect of my life, as a husband, a father, a pastor, a friend, a son, and so on has to be seen in the light of who I am. I am not first any of those.  I am God’s child bonded to Jesus.

The danger is that I can find my identity anywhere else, in being a husband and father, or for you being a wife or mother.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not any less grateful for my mother, or for my wife who is also a great mother. It means that your value, your identity, your worth is not derived there. There are women that have remained single that have lost children or are infertile. For them, Mother’s Day may magnify their pain.  Here is the good news: Your value and significance are found in Jesus.  Whether you are a mother or not has absolutely no bearing on your intrinsic value as beloved of God, and found in Jesus.

This is such good news. How many of us have staked our own identity, our own sense of value on how well our children were doing at some given moment? (Or, how well we felt we were doing in our calling, whatever it was?) The results can be devastating if we feel we have failed or if we feel we have succeeded because it is always unhealthy for us to build our identity on anything so unstable. Instead, God wants us to build our lives, whether in mothering or fathering or whatever our calling may be, on the foundation of our identity in him. 

(This is why on Mother’s Day, we’ll be celebrating with all the women of our church! I hope you will join us for worship!)