This weekend we celebrate Mother’s Day. Like many holidays it has a wonderful heritage that informs it still, today.
Mother’s Day has its roots in the 1500’s when people began to take one Sunday every spring halfway through Lent to go back to their Mother Church, the church where they were baptized or the nearest Cathedral, which served as the “mother church” of the diocese.
For centuries this holiday was so well-recognized that servants were given the day off in England and Ireland to visit their families on Mothering Sunday. Typically, children would gather wildflowers for the church and for their mothers or grandmothers as they walked home. Mothering Sunday is still celebrated in Canada, Australia and throughout the United Kingdom, but the emphasis is on the church as a mothering institution.
This holiday began in our nation 110 years by Anna Jarvis. She wanted to honor her own mother, a peace activist during the Civil War. Ann Reeves Jarvis was a nurse during the Civil War who tended wounded soldiers from the Confederacy as well as the Union. She had such an influence on her daughter Anna that she asked to hold a memorial for her mother one Sunday in 1908 at her church, St. Andrew’s Methodist in Grafton West Virginia. Anna Jarvis advocated the celebration of Mother’s Day statewide because she believed a mother is “the person who has done more for you than anyone else in the world.”
The idea caught on and by 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared that the second Sunday in May would become a national holiday known as Mother’s Day. Jarvis was pleased about the way her idea spread but disappointed at the commercialization of the holiday. She advocated hand-written letters that people would write to tell your mother what an impact she had had.
Here we are preparing for Mother’s Day in 2019. What are the lessons this history can teach us?
Remember the point of this holiday is to honor someone you love. Remember that the founder of this holiday never advocated for making it into something that was expensive or commercial. Remember that at the heart of Mother’s Day is a centuries-old tradition of visiting a church important to your family and worshiping together as a family.
New too Pilgrim? If you are new to our church consider joining me for a one-hour class that will be offered on Thursdays at 4 p.m. for four weeks. May 30, June 6, 13, 20. I will offer some food for thought, some time to ask questions and an opportunity for discussion about your faith journey. Hope you can join us. Save a spot by calling Matt in the church office or e-mailing me - firstname.lastname@example.org