Mother’s Day. It started as an effort to reunite the North and South after the Civil War, led in large part by a woman named Ann Reeves Jarvis. She organized picnics and other opportunities for mothers from both sides of the conflict to come together in friendship and peace.
Her daughter, Anna Jarvis, “never had children of her own, but the 1905 death of her own mother inspired her to organize the first Mother’s Day observances in 1908.” Her focus was on appreciating one’s own mother, not mothers in general (hence the careful placement of the apostrophe).*
But now, a hundred years later, Mother’s Day is dominated by commercialism. We celebrate Mom with offerings of flowers, candy, perfume, or jewelry, and dinner out on what is most restaurants’ busiest day of the year. (While I certainly appreciate the gifts—my kids are so thoughtful!—I’ve already written about what I want most as a mother: “What I Want for Mother’s Day.”)
The church has largely adopted this basically secular holiday. Across the nation, congregations will hear sermons addressed to women. Some, more sensitive pastors will also address women who are not mothers, in order to include everyone . (I know a number of childless women who will refuse to attend church this Sunday. It’s just too painful.) And in many churches, the text for the day will be Proverbs 31.
I’ve always felt a bit intimidated by this passage. This virtuous woman seems like an impossible role model. How can one person do all these things? Not only that, but my impression from these sermons has always been a works-oriented sanctification. I have to earn my “praise in the gates.” Yes, Jesus saves me, but in order to please Him I have to emulate this superwoman. It’s beyond me.
It was with great relief that I read a blog post by Rachel Held Evans. I don’t agree with everything she writes (I rarely agree with everything anybody writes). I do greatly respect her perspective and wisdom. When it comes to Proverbs 31, however, I think this is the best article on the internet. That’s high praise indeed.
So please head on over to:
Meanwhile, I’m going to go point this out to my husband. Once you’ve read her post, you’ll understand why.
* More information on the history of Mother’s Day: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/05/140508-mothers-day-nation-gifts-facts-culture-moms/