Sunday is Mother's Day, perhaps the most sentimental of all secular days that has been allowed to leak into most of our churches. So much so that some advertise special services to celebrate moms.
Don't misunderstand, moms need to be celebrated -- as do dads and grandparents, who also have their special days so as not to be left out.
The Ten Commandments are clear, "Honor your father and mother." In Ephesians, when Paul is giving moral guidance to various household members, he says, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother' (this is the first commandment with a promise), 'that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth.'"
In Exodus and Deuteronomy, it is the first commandment of the second part of the Ten Commandments, which govern our relationships with other people. The first commandments having to do with our relationship with God and creation. The implication is that if we get this one right, we have a much better chance of getting the others right as well.
I also know the reality that not all have parents who are "worth" honoring, but it doesn't matter. They had a part in giving you life and the commandment implies that we are to honor them by the life we live.
When it comes to Mother's Day, I am always somewhat conflicted. I am fortunate to still have my mother around, whom I love and count as a blessing. But I also have been through times when Mother's Day was dreaded by many. For many, it is a bittersweet day of memory and missing their moms. We all need those days, even if we do not look forward to them.
For others who have lost children, it is a reminder of children who have passed and as far as many are concerned what they "were" but are no longer. Please do not make this mistake when talking to bereaved parents -- once a mom, always a mom. For yet others, it represents something longed for, but so far denied.
For those who will be in a religious service on Sunday, keep faith first. The Bible is full of strong, heroic, and faithful women. Some of them, after years of waiting, became mothers -- Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Elizabeth. There are also many who are known only for their faith -- Esther, Deborah, Lydia, Mary Magdalene. For all of them, it was faith that mattered first. When the Bible lifts people up it is because of their faith -- sometimes children come as a result, sometimes not.
Keeping the focus on faith helps those who may struggle with Mother's Day. Another help is to simply keep the day for what it is -- honoring and remembering your mother. Honoring others usually makes us feel better and is appreciated by those who are being honored.
For all of us, Mother's Day is a time to be thoughtful of others, and to be kind and gentle.
It is a time to put into practice the encouragement in Romans 12:15-18:
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all." (RSV).
Sean Niestrath lives and ministers in Madisonville. You may contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.