Honouring Mothers

Honouring Mothers

Thursday, 5 May 2016  | Narelle - MECS Principal
This Sunday we celebrate Mother’s Day. I remember with great fondness a number of my children’s homemade or carefully selected gifts from the school Mother’s Day stall. Many of us keep them as treasures, lovingly tucked away, instantly reminding us of the extraordinary bond between parent and child.

Celebration of motherhood over the centuries has appeared in varying forms and traditions. In the 1600’s the Church of England instigated Mothering Sunday in recognition of Mary the Mother of Jesus. Later this religious celebration changed focus to include honouring all mothers. The Mother’s Day we celebrate today is largely the legacy of an American Christian woman Anna Jarvis. In response to her mother’s outstanding efforts to elevate the important role of women in health care, hygiene and sanitation during the Civil War, Anna decided to dedicate her life to establishing her mother’s ultimate dream: a Mother’s Day to honour mothers around the world. As a Sunday school teacher for twenty years, she had long held the conviction that children should ‘Honour their father and mother’ by being faithful to the fifth of the Ten Commandments.

People initially started to observe Mother’s Day by attending church and writing letters to their mothers. Sadly, like other Christian celebrations, it was not long before rapid commercialisation and exploitation ensued. Ironically this sacred and joyous celebration she created, caused Anna much grief. Envisioned as a day of sentiment, not profit, she went on to spend her inheritance fighting against the abuse of this Christian based celebration. In one press release criticizing the floral industry, Jarvis referred to those who profited from Mother’s Day as ‘charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest and truest movements and celebrations.’ Anna Jarvis died in 1948, blind, poor and not having children of her own. She would never know that it was ‘The Florist’s Exchange’ that had anonymously paid for her care before her passing.

Despite Anna’s misgivings, Mother’s Day has flourished all around the world. In Australia our own Mrs Janet Heyden emulated the original intention in Sydney. Observing the many lonely older women and mothers in hospital who had no regular visitors, she pioneered a campaign in 1923 to raise money and donate gifts to them.

Today, as gift suggestions flood our inbox and mailbox, how do we maintain the original vision set out by God to honour mothers and mother figures in our families, churches and communities? How do we collectively reinstate a celebration that champions the Christian values of justice, mercy, kindness and love? Here are a few suggestions.

Be inclusive in your celebrations. The vast majority of images you’ll see this Mother’s Day will picture an idealised version. Honour women for whom the blessing of motherhood has not been realised. Who could be included at your lunch or dinner table? I have been the blessed recipient of the interest and care of many women over my life. It is good to acknowledge their influence on my life at Mother’s Day, particularly those who never had a child of their own.

Extend the power of your dollar. A quick search online will generate a range of options that extends your funds to benefit causes that positively impact women and children around the world. Our own ‘Friends of MECS’ Mother’s Day supports poorer communities (and thereby mums) by selling items bought from them at a fair price.
Turn your sorrow into action. Mother’s Day can bring great sadness for those who have experienced loss. If you’re going to be spending Mother’s Day thinking about a Mum you’ve lost or never known, is there an organisation or individual you can help support?

Get active! Raise awareness about an issue that affects mothers and children. Sign up next year with family and friends and participate in the annual Melbourne Mother’s Day Classic on May 8 that raises funds towards breast cancer research.

Clean a Mum’s house. Go and do dishes, make dinner for a stressed out friend with kids, or offer to babysit so she can take a break. Let your mums and girlfriends know how much you love and care for them in whatever way that works.

Let’s join in this prayer –
Loving God, we pray for those for whom Mother’s Day is a time of heartache rather than celebration. We pray for those who have never known their mother or whose mothers have died. Bless them with your love. We pray for those who long to be mothers but as yet have not had their own children. Bless them with your love. We pray for those who struggle with the way their children have chosen to live their lives. Bless them with your love. We pray for those who have a difficult relationship with their mother.  Bless them with your love.
And for those who have reason to celebrate that their mothers are still with them; for those who can be thankful for what their mothers have done; and for those where the bonds of love are strong and good - let us show our gratitude not only this Sunday, but every day. Bless all mothers with your love.


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