Free from Mother's Day?
Andy Goodliff asks questions about the appropriateness of the church doing "Mother's Day"
Stanley Hauerwas isn't one to shy away from being provocative. So to a group of young people he says:
He believes by celebrating Mother's Day, we've allowed commercialism and sentimentalism to hijack the church's worship. We've allowed the Hallmark calendar to determine our lives.
Mother's Day, like Remembrance Sunday, are two Sundays I wish the church could be free from. It's not that I do not like mothers - I'm very grateful for my mum - and it's not that I don't think we should remember the cost of war. But I think we should be free from the demand that we celebrate and remember in particular ways, which collude to neuter the gospel and, in the case of Mother's Day, sentimentalise the family.
The history of Mother's Day can be traced back to the United States in the early 20th century, from where it travelled to UK shores and has largely overshadowed Mothering Sunday since. Mothering Sunday can be traced back to England in the 1600s, where the fourth Sunday of Lent was known as Refreshment Sunday. It was a day when the disciplines of Lent were relaxed and the church required people to return to their 'mother' church or cathedral. It became known as Mothering Sunday, not because of anything to do with 'mothers', but to do with the church. Of course, where people were far away, it enabled families to be reunited, but it's focus was ecclesial, not familial.
With Mother's Day just past, it might be safe to post this now and perhaps challenge us to think what we do next year. Here are five reasons why I think the church should probably have little or nothing to do with Mother's Day:
1. We allow supermarkets to determine our desires, our calendars, our lives.
2. We suggest being a mother is synonymous with being a woman.
3. Jesus wasn't very family friendy and Mother's Day encourages us to ignore those hard sayings - see Matt. 12.46-50, Luke 14.26
4. We show a lack of senstivity to those who cannot have children.
5. There are other ways of honouring those who have and continue to mother us, which don't play into the 'romanticisation of the mother-child relationship'
The Revd Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea
Picture: RGB Stock/Tacluda