Mothers’ Day: It’s Time to Put Away the Sappy Sentiments and Turn Over a Few Tables in the Temples of Hallmark!

True Mother Julian of NorwichIn a world where rape remains an weapon of war as whole populations are transformed into refugees, in a nation where the number of aboriginal women murdered soars above a thousand, in communities where mothers continue to struggle to feed, cloth, and house their children, there is no time for sappy sentiments on the day established to call for peace.  Peace can only be achieved through justice and justice for mothers requires action by women and men everywhere.

Preachers have several choices when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel on Mothers’ Day.  We can of course ignore the fact that it is Mothers’ Day. After all Mothers’ Day does not appear on the Church calendar of feasts and commemorations. However, Mothers’ Day is reported to be the third highest attendance day; out numbered only by Easter and Christmas! I suspect that a great many offspring choose the day to placate their mothers. So ignoring the event seems like adding insult to injury to those guilt-ridden offspring who hope that their efforts won’t go unnoticed. Sadly, the presence of the Christmas and Easter crowd, all too often tempts the preacher to resort to sentimentality in order to entertain the infrequent worshippers. The history of the creation of Mothers’ Day ought to compel preachers to resist temptation and find the courage not to compromise. 

Most of us think of Mothers’ Day as a kind of conventional holiday that celebrates traditional family values; the kind of traditional values that encourage women who are mothers to keep on keeping on.  But celebrating the traditional motherhood is definitely not what Mothers’ Day was originally intended for.  The very first Mothers’ Day was intended to be a celebration not just of mothers, but rather it was designed to be a call to action by all women. 

One of the first founders of Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis back in 1858.  Anna Jarvis gathered women of the Appalachian mountains together in what she called mother’s day work clubs. Where women worked together to eliminate poverty.  When the Civil War came about, the mother’s day work clubs created medical camps.  They were places of nonviolence for men from both sides who were wounded in the war. 

At the end of the Civil War, Anna Jarvis organized the Mother’s Day Friendship Day, which was a call for radical peace.  Anna Jarvis brought together the leaders from the north and the south for a time of reconciliation.  Mother’s Day was originally about reconciliation and peace.

Then along came a  woman named, Julia Ward Howe who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Julia Ward Howe called for women to protest the cruelties of war everywhere and to gather together to call for peace.  She called for a national day of peace for all women.  She issued women’s’ declaration, and from the streets women shouted :

“Arise then women of this day, arise all women who have hearts, say firmly our husbands shall not come to us reeking with the carnage for caresses and applause.  Arise women of peace.” 

Anna Jarvis’ daughter also named Anna Jarvis approached President Wilson and petitioned for a national Mother’s Day.  It was Woodrow Wilson who called for the second Sunday of May to be the national Mother’s Day. Shortly thereafter, n anti-suffragette movement spoke out against the women who were calling for peace.  So instead of being a day for women who were active and present in the world, it became a day to celebrate mothers who stayed at home with the children.

Anna Jarvis the founder of Mother’s Day was so angry with Woodrow Wilson that she filed a law suit, that petitioned the courts to put a stop to Mother’s Day because as the court papers insisted, instead of it being run by women, suddenly Mother’s Day was being run by men in an effort to keep them in the house barefoot and pregnant. 

Sadly, the world was not ready for such strong willed women to shout out loud. And so, Anna Jarvis was arrested at a Mother’s Day celebration and she spent the rest of her life in a sanatorium? 

On mothers’ day we would all do well to remember Julia Ward Howe’s Mothers’ Day Proclamation.  Dated 1870 but sadly it is still so very relevant today:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!” The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

To those of you who continue to point out that the Mothers’ Day apostrophe belongs between the r and the s, all I can say is: “Move it!”  Until we can move beyond thoughts about our very own mother to the realization that mothers everywhere are worthy of celebration the vision of peace that this day is designed to call us all toward will remain but a dream. Let this day be about mothers everywhere!!! Moving the apostrophe is but a small reminder that the holiday does not belong to any individual mother but to mothers every where!!! Let peace break out this Mothers’ Day!!!

For additional resources for the celebration of MOTHERS’ DAY click here to listen to a MOTHERS’ DAY sermon click  here

Another Option for Preaching on Mothers’ Day – Bring Many Names

Until we can fully recover images and names for God that include the feminine, it will continue to be difficult for many to see the face of God in women and girls. Mothers’ Day is an opportunity for preachers to uncover, explore and proclaim the feminine names, attributes, images and activities of the Divine. This Sunday we will begin our liturgy by singing “Bring Many Names” (Voices United Hymnal), we will sing an invocation to Sophia “Come, Sophia” (Miriam Therese Winter), “Sing Lo! Sing, O Sophia” (Miriam Therese Winter), acclaim women of faith in song with “Come Celebrate the Women” (Shirley Erna Murray), praise the Breasted One with our Hymn of the Day, “Womb of Life” (Ruth Duck), after communion we will “Rock-a My soul in the Bosom of She Who Is” (Miriam Theresa Winter) and send folks off rejoicing to “Faith of Our Mothers”. (copyright laws prevent me from posting the music, so message me and I’ll hook you up)

I offer this repost to inspire the bold women and lovers of women to proclaim the love of She Who Dwells Among Us this Mothers’ Day!

GOD’s Radical Mastectomy

divine feminine 3Recently, I found myself in conversation with a young woman who insisted that inclusive language for God is nothing more than political correctness that has been imposed upon the church by feminists. She insisted that because women have now achieved equality with men, the need for inclusive language for God has served its purpose and need no longer be of concern to worship leaders. I am grateful that my age afforded me the maturity not to explode on this young woman who can well afford her opinion as a direct result of some of the language battles that I and my contemporaries struggled to overcome while she was but knee high to a grasshopper. Our conversation has stuck with me and caused me to review some things that I wrote long ago about the impact our language has not only on our images of the Divine but on the way we live together in community. What follows is a portion of a piece I wrote about the disappearance of the Breasted One as a name for God.

“We believe in one God, the Father the Almighty… We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father…  We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.  With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified.  He has spoken through the prophets. In this God:  “We believe” and “His kingdom will have no end!”  God in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our blessed Trinity.  As we proclaim our faith in the words of the Nicene, Apostles’, or (heaven forbid) the Athanasian creeds we proclaim a particular image of the Triune God.  For generations,  a majority of Christians have assumed all three persons in this Trinity are male.  Until recently this assumption has resulted in the exclusive use of male images, symbols and pronouns to represent the Triune God which Christians worship.  God has been declared to be male.  This is not an easy declaration to make.  In order to make such a declaration, many of God’s attributes which are revealed in the biblical accounts have been eradicated from the Christian tradition. 

     Long before the Christian church began to formulate its exclusively male image of the triune God, the Hebrew people used several words to refer to God.  The earliest of these words is “El” which is the generic Semitic word for a god.   

to read the more click here

Preaching on Mothers’ Day – Don’t Compromise!

True Mother Julian of NorwichPreachers have several choices when it comes to proclaiming the Gospel on Mothers’ Day.  We can of course ignore the fact that it is Mothers’ Day. After all Mothers’ Day does not appear on the Church calendar of feasts and commemorations. However, Mothers’ Day is reported to be the third highest attendance day; out numbered only by Easter and Christmas! I suspect that a great many offspring choose the day to placate their mothers. So ignoring the event seems like adding insult to injury to those guilt-ridden offspring who hope that their efforts won’t go unnoticed. Sadly, the presence of the Christmas and Easter crowd, all too often tempts the preacher to resort to sentimentality in order to entertain the infrequent worshippers. The history of the creation of Mothers’ Day ought to compel preachers to resist temptation and find the courage not to compromise. 

Most of us think of Mothers’ Day as a kind of conventional holiday that celebrates traditional family values; the kind of traditional values that encourage women who are mothers to keep on keeping on.  But celebrating the traditional motherhood is definitely not what Mothers’ Day was originally intended for.  The very first Mothers’ Day was intended to be a celebration not just of mothers, but rather it was designed to be a call to action by all women. 

One of the first founders of Mother’s Day was Anna Jarvis back in 1858.  Anna Jarvis gathered women of the Appalachian mountains together in what she called mother’s day work clubs. Where women worked together to eliminate poverty.  When the Civil War came about, the mother’s day work clubs created medical camps.  They were places of nonviolence for men from both sides who were wounded in the war. 

At the end of the Civil War, Anna Jarvis organized the Mother’s Day Friendship Day, which was a call for radical peace.  Anna Jarvis brought together the leaders from the north and the south for a time of reconciliation.  Mother’s Day was originally about reconciliation and peace.

Then along came a  woman named, Julia Ward Howe who wrote “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Julia Ward Howe called for women to protest the cruelties of war everywhere and to gather together to call for peace.  She called for a national day of peace for all women.  She issued women’s’ declaration, and from the streets women shouted :

“Arise then women of this day, arise all women who have hearts, say firmly our husbands shall not come to us reeking with the carnage for caresses and applause.  Arise women of peace.” 

Anna Jarvis’ daughter also named Anna Jarvis approached President Wilson and petitioned for a national Mother’s Day.  It was Woodrow Wilson who called for the second Sunday of May to be the national Mother’s Day. Shortly thereafter, n anti-suffragette movement spoke out against the women who were calling for peace.  So instead of being a day for women who were active and present in the world, it became a day to celebrate mothers who stayed at home with the children.

Anna Jarvis the founder of Mother’s Day was so angry with Woodrow Wilson that she filed a law suit, that petitioned the courts to put a stop to Mother’s Day because as the court papers insisted, instead of it being run by women, suddenly Mother’s Day was being run by men in an effort to keep them in the house barefoot and pregnant. 

Sadly, the world was not ready for such strong willed women to shout out loud. And so, Anna Jarvis was arrested at a Mother’s Day celebration and she spent the rest of her life in a sanatorium? 

On mothers’ day we would all do well to remember Julia Ward Howe’s Mothers’ Day Proclamation.  Dated 1870 but sadly it is still so very relevant today:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm!” The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”