This Mother’s Day, celebrate those who have nurtured, no matter if they are mothers or not. We have all been shaped and cared for by a variety of people, not just mothers. And remember, as you give thanks for those whose experience of mother was positive and healing, that you need also to acknowledge those who have a different experience. Mother’s Day is always a delicate celebration; wounds can inadvertently be opened. Hurting hearts can be further wounded if you aren’t careful—you give the impression that all mothers are shining examples of faith and family or that being a mother is the highest or even only calling a woman could have. That may be true for some, but not for all.
So, listen to the text for today. Celebrate a life not by titles but by labors. To celebrate a teacher, for example, gather the students and show the impact. To celebrate a knitter, gather the prayer shawls contributed. To celebrate an engineer, show the buildings built or systems employed. We celebrate a life by talking about lives touched. Some may be less visible, more difficult to gather in one place; in which case, you tell the story or stories. Celebrate the ripples that radiate out from one life and intersect with many others.
This is a celebration of community, the village that it takes to raise a child or make a disciple. That’s how we raise those who have gone before (not physically, but in terms of influence). Those who were mentored now mentor others; in so doing, we say to the one who has gone before, “Get up!” Maybe it isn’t as dramatic as Resurrection, but it’s important, all the same.
So, let this day be one of celebration of community. It’s time to find someone to thank, someone who might have been overlooked—perhaps the nursery workers, both those who serve now and those who have served in the past. Whom can we celebrate for “mothering” all those babies years ago? Whom can we raise up in the minds and memories and consciousness of the congregation today?
Celebrate kitchen workers, or cleaners, VBS team, children’s choir leaders or directors and volunteers of student ministries. It is a good day to say “thank you” to those who have helped to raise up disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It is a good day to be reminded that we are the village that the proverb speaks of; reminded that we are one in caregiving and support.
Of course, some of the more traditional Mother’s Day observances can be appropriate too. But Jesus redefined family in significant ways, and we can embrace that hope and that joy too.
Rev. Dr. Derek Weber, Director of Preaching Ministries, served churches in Indiana and Arkansas and the British Methodist Church. His PhD is from University of Edinburgh in preaching and media. He has taught preaching in seminary and conference settings for more than 20 years.