Mothering Sunday is originally an occasion for people to return to their Mother Church. It then became a day for servants to be given a day off to do the same, where they would meet up with their families. Somehow from that, the greetings cards and gift industry have made something enormous of a day that should be an intimate family event.
For so many people Mother’s Day is an emotive occasion. There are those who would dearly still love to have their mothers with them; those who would love to be mothers and never will be, or who are and never see their children; those whose life has been damaged by their mothers and the last thing they want to do is remember them; those who have chosen not to be mothers; those for whom motherhood has not been an easy path; men who are doing all the mothering in their family; those whose children are seriously ill or have died, or never made it to birth… the list could go on.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating your own mother, that is a personal occasion for you if you want to and are fortunate enough to have a good relationship that is worth celebrating and your mother is still alive. But I am left questioning why the church has bought into that version of Mother’s Day, rather than the Mothering Sunday we were once upholding. More worryingly, as I talk to many people, why are we still doing it.
Many churches give flowers, or some other such token to the ‘ladies in the congregation’. Why? To be honest, I find it worse when something is given to ‘all women’, as if it’s some kind of consolation prize. Yet the church perpetuates this year after year. And do you know what, I can’t find many people in favour of it – so why are we still doing it? It has nothing to do with worship or God, we have allowed a secular understanding to take over.
I can only assume this practice is a victim of ‘we’ve always done this’. Trust me, I tried to adapt the tradition once and was not popular. In the church we have got confused but we can’t seem to step back. Perhaps we think it is ‘bringing people in to the church’, I bet even if that is true, which I doubt these days, how many more is it keeping away. I won’t be in church on Sunday.
I would have said that we don’t do the same for Father’s Day, but in a Twitter conversation, I’ve been told some churches do. I despair if instead of doing away with one practice we have misunderstood and made something different, we have added another to try to balance it out.
Yes, by all means we can celebrate the mothering attributes of God – but that is something quite different.
I am very grateful to my mother, and I love my children to bits, but that is not something to be rammed very publicly down the throats of everyone else.
Please churches, think about what you’re doing. Church should be a place of healing and blessing. Let’s celebrate everyone and all relationships – every day.