Monday, May 5, 2008

Pentecost vs. Mother’s Day – Cage Match

SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SEE THE VICIOUS FACE-OFF BETWEEN A HISTORIC HIGH FESTIVAL OF THE CHURCH AND AN ENCROACHING SECULAR HOLIDAY! WATCH THE BLOODBATH AS THE UNDERDOG PENTECOST VIES TO REGAIN ITS FOOTING ON THE CHURCH CALENDAR ATOP THE GUILT-LADEN OBSERVANCE OF A DAY SET ASIDE TO HONOR MEN NOT GOD! YOU’LL BE SEEING RED THIS SUNDAY! SUNDAY! SUNDAY!

Seriously, the battle has already been waged, and from the advertising many churches are doing, Pentecost has lost. For someone on the outside looking in, the highest festivals of the American Lutheran Church year could be ranked as follows: Christmas, Mother’s Day, Reformation, Easter, and the other days are all about the same, aren’t they?

We are certainly not against mothers. We all had mothers. We like mothers. We’ll happily send cards, flowers, and gifts this Mother’s Day. If we live near enough to our mothers, we will be taking our mothers out for brunch or dinner and will try to give our respective mothers a nice, relaxing day.

The problem is the insertion of the observance of Mother’s Day into the Church. There is an appropriate place for the observance of Mother’s Day in the Divine Service: during the prayer of the Church. There is the opportunity to thank God for mothers, ask God to bless and give strength to mothers, and ask God to comfort those mothers whose motherhood has brought them trials, sadness, and grief.

Mother’s Day should not become a spectacle that takes the focus off Christ and places it on frail, sinful humans. In the end, this is damaging to both the mothers and those seeking to adore them. Though everyone had a mother, not everyone had a good mother. An observance that asks a child to recall abuse or neglect can be torture and will not be a cheerful day no matter how distant the ugly memories are.

Any honest mother will admit that she is not the mother God wants her to be; she is not and cannot live up to the perfect expectations of this vocation. Putting the spotlight on one sinful person or a group of sinful people exposes the flaws and hurts in them. Because of sin, even those who by all outward appearances are good mothers, may have crappy children. Through no fault of the parents, children do drift away from Church, make immoral choices and sometimes get themselves in trouble with the law. This doesn’t mean they didn’t have good mothers; it’s another example of the taint of sin.

Our only perfect Mother is the Church. She will never neglect or abuse us. She washes us clean in Holy Baptism and feeds us Christ’s Word, His Body, and His Blood to nourish us. On May 11, 2008, instead of celebrating the icons, celebrate our perfect Mother, the Church.

(Then take Mom to brunch….Bring flowers….and a card. Really. Remember how many hours of labor she went through to bring your sorry behind into this world. This is the LEAST you can do.)

“38Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.'40And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’41Then those who gladly received his words were baptized, and that same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread and in prayers.”

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Mother's Day emphasis is a bad idea? I was going to read Proverbs 31:10-31 and then, after glaring silently for about 15 seconds at all the women, I would repeat, with emphasis, part of v 31: "Give her the reward she has earned!"

And you're saying don't do that because maybe -- just maybe -- it might heap guilt upon someone?

Hmmmmm.......

SW said...

Celebrate the "Church?" Are you talking about the "Holy Christian Church" aka "The Invisible Church?" That is the one that spans across denomination and it is only seen by God as only God can judge the heart.

If that is what you meant (and I am assuming you did since you capitalized "Church"), I will agree.

If you meant the visible church, I will kindly disagree with you. For just as the mother has her sins, so does the visible church and it's laundry list of sins is quite long....ego, lust for power, racism, hatred, spite, gossip, and on and on goes the ticker tape parade.

Angry Lutherans said...

Church, as in "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen."

Anonymous said...

FWIW, our worship at an ELS congregation was pure Pentecost. No mention of Mothers' Day until after the benediction, not even during the "children's sermon".

rt