Happy Mother’s Day! To all the mums reading this, we hope you have a lovely day and are thoroughly spoilt for all the hard work you do.
Where does Mother’s Day come from? Its origins are in the medieval festival of Mothering Sunday, in which people were urged once a year to return to their ‘mother church’ in their home town and give thanks for its foundational role in their lives. Inevitably, such visits also reunited people with their parents and so, while they were home, children often gave their mothers gifts to thank them for their work in raising them. In Australia, the modern practice of Mother’s Day dates back to 1924, when Janet Heydon, of Sydney, began giving gifts to lonely and forgotten mums at the Newington State Home for Women. After raising support from local businesses to extend the practice, it quickly took off around the country and soon became enshrined in what we now know as ‘Mother’s Day’.
There is something right about honouring our mums and thanking God for the roles they have played in our lives. ‘Honour your father and mother,’ reads the fifth commandment, and the New Testament cites it with approval (Ephesians 6:2-3). Mothers are a huge blessing to us from God and so, though we should give thanks for them every day, it can’t hurt to also have a special day once a year to remind us to do so in particular.
But Mother’s Day is not just a day of thanksgiving. For many of us, it is also a painful day. For children whose mothers have died or are estranged from them, for mothers who are estranged from their children, or have lost a child, or for women who don’t have children but would love to, Mother’s Day can be a hard day. This side of the fall, Mother’s Day—like all days—can be a bittersweet blessing.
So, how can we best celebrate Mother’s Day as Christians?
We can honour mothers as imperfect but God-given gifts to us. Whether our relationship with our mum has been wonderful or not-so-wonderful, we can still thank God for the gift of life and those who, humanly speaking, gave it to us. So, to all the mothers out there: we thank God for you and pray you will keep setting an example of godliness to your children.
But we can also thank God for the family that all families are a picture of and which, if we are Christians, all of us are a part of already—the church. Jesus said:
Truly I tell you, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
Whether we have lost our family or not, Jesus says that church can be our family, and a comfort when human family fails us. So, let’s be a family for each other at Trinity City: mothers for the motherless, children for the childless, and in all things, people who point each other towards our hope in Christ.