A Day for Mothers // M-Note 5.7.2021

Sunday is Mother’s Day, so I thought I would give you a little history on this holiday (one that started, believe it or not, in a Methodist Church!).

In 1908, Anna Jarvis coordinated the first Mother’s Day celebration at a local Methodist Church in West Virginia. She originally thought of the idea as a way to honor her own mother who had died a few years earlier. Soon she decided that honoring mothers should be a nationwide holiday. After that first celebration, she began to write letters and lobby states and even the federal government to make Mother’s Day a holiday. In just a few years, every state began to celebrate it, and in 1914 President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day an official holiday.
But, here is where the story gets good. Within a decade, Hallmark and other businesses saw an opportunity to capitalize on this new holiday. They began to sell cards, encourage prepackaged gifts of flowers and candy, and the holiday was commercialized. Anna Jarvis was outraged. She thought that Mother’s Day should be celebrated with handwritten notes, gestures of service, and authentic acts of connection. Buying gifts and prewritten cards cut against the original intent. By the end of her life, Anna Jarvis was so frustrated that she regularly protested Mother’s Day celebrations and worked for the abolition of the holiday. In fact, at one point she was arrested for disturbing the peace during the celebration of the very holiday she worked so hard to begin.
I love that story because it encapsulates the feelings so many have about Mother’s Day. On the one hand, it is a wonderful day to celebrate the mothers in our lives who have given so much of themselves. On the other hand, it points to some of the complicated feelings many have about the day. For some it is a day of remembering and grieving. Some of us have “complicated” relationships with our moms. Others of us want to be parents and have yet to realize that hope. Maybe some of us, like Anna, just don’t like the commercialization.
But, the root of the day is recognizing those women in our lives that have contributed to who we are. We never practice gratitude enough, especially for significant people in our lives. So today, say thank you to your mom or any woman who has played a significant role in your life. If your mother is no longer with us, say a prayer of thanksgiving to God. And if you forgot to buy a card…write a handwritten note, and tell your mom it is what Anna would have wanted.
P.S. This weekend, we are finishing our series Finding God in the Mess. You can share the series with someone you think may need to hear it. While you are at it, invite someone you know to join us in worship this weekend, in person by registering here or online. See you Sunday!

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