This Sunday is Mother’s Day. Often in an attempt to make things sound a bit more like church, we call it the Festival of the Christian Home. There are three things about celebrating Mother’s Day in church that concern me. The first is that although being a mom is a very important role in any woman’s life, for some the most important, it is not the only role. If this is the only day and the only role we recognize of women in our lives; that’s a problem. The second is that not all women who desire to become mothers - will; nor do all women desire to become mothers; I’m concerned how we handle that. And the third is that not all mothers - how do I say this – are remembered well.
I often try to manage these concerns by saying that there is a sense in which all of us have experienced something like the direction, love and acceptance of a mother, even if the woman we remember was not our biological or adopted parent. This year, at least in the sermon, even with these concerns, I’m giving into Mother’s Day.
I want to share this picture of my mom with you in advance. This is a picture of my mom (that one of my cousins in Illinois who is really into taking old family pictures and posting them on Facebook posted a few months ago). That’s me, with my head on her lap just below the coffee cup.
I was stunned when I first saw this picture. I simply do not remember my mom being that young. I mean look at her, how old is she? She was 26 when I was born so in this picture she must be what 27 maybe 28. And here is the other thing; I do not remember seeing my mom looking so relaxed, hassle free, even happy. She is not doing one of the three things she is doing in every other picture of her which are: holding a baby, or cooking dinner, or doing laundry.
This is the happiest I have ever seen my mom. I know this picture was taken before life, took her life over. I’m the second of 5 boys and a year after the fifth one was born my father became disabled. You would have thought somewhere in my memory there would be a moment of equal tranquility, but there is not. And my cousin has not posted a picture that even comes close to this one.
I was deeply moved when I first saw this picture because I realized how much I miss my mom - who died 11 years ago this October. The emotion is also about how I regret not knowing the young woman in this picture. I began to think about what I remember about my mom. Her name was Georgie and she was not an unhappy person but she was a bit anxious. I began to think about how it is that my mom gave up being the young woman in this picture to well...be my mom.
It’s that kind of focus on another in the midst of many roles in life that we will celebrate in worship this Sunday. It’s important that we pay attention to the women in our lives and what they have done for us. For when we look back into those faces, faces of the women who have in some way guided or nurtured us, challenged and tested us, loved and provided for us that we see the face of God.