On How Churches Celebrate Mothering Sunday

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.

~ by pamjw on March 28, 2014.

9 Responses to “On How Churches Celebrate Mothering Sunday”

  1. Amen! I shall be reminding people of what Mothering Sunday is (as opposed to Mother’s Day) and doing my best to ensure that everyone who loves and nurtures anyone gets flowers. That’ll be everyone then.

  2. Well said!! I agree absolutely with what you say here. At our church we do the Fathers’ Day thing as well as Mothers’ Day and I dread it. I find it just SO excluding of people who don’t fit into the boxes we have made. If we really really really are determined to go down this path, then let’s have a Singles’ Day and a Newlyweds’ Day and a Divorced peoples’ Day and a day for those who are going to get married soon…….. etc, etc, etc. Alternatively we could just stick with making church about worshiping God and meeting together. Oh yeah, it already is about that – isn’t it??

    • Thanks!
      Yes church is meant to be a safe space, not a place of inflicting pain, or setting up unrealistic ideals.

  3. […] as ‘family’.  For all the same reasons as I don’t agree with celebrating Mother’s Day, the entirely secular construct, in church, I don’t think family is always a particularly […]

  4. […] as the modern Mothers’ Day), I read an excellent post by Pam’s Perambulation called On How Churches Celebrate Mothering Sunday in which she discusses the ways in which this is done within a church context. She puts many own […]

  5. Linked to this in http://brightbluebean.wordpress.com/2014/05/12/honour-or-buy-a-card/

  6. Hi Pam. This is all so true. I haven’t been to church on mother’s say for quite a few years now. I always feel sad because it’s the one day of the year where I feel that there’s no place for me, or my pain, in church. The pain of not being a mother myself, and of having lost my own mother to cancer, makes it an incredibly tough day. Distinctions made between who’s a mother and who isn’t are incredibly unhelpful. What do those women do who feel that they are mothers, because of miscarriage etc?? I find it sad that a “celebration” causes many to feel that they can’t attend church. something has to be wrong with that… I’m not bitter and have no problem with people celebrating their mothers; I’m just not sure that church is the place to be doing that. The fact that it is such a big deal in so many churches probably helps to explain why those of us that don’t have children often end up feeling that we’re considered second class in some way…
    Thanks for writing this Pam, and for sharing it again on Twitter, Rachel

    • Thanks for commenting. We have come a long way from Mothering Sunday – the fourth Sunday in Lent and what it meant, and jumped on the saccharine money making machine. The church should be a place for the wounded and hurt to have support, not to be made worse, or to feel other or second class. It is very wrong that we make people feel that within God’s house. I don’t get why the church has gone down that route, but find it very sad

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