Staff notes

Mother's Day Sermon - Rev. Laura Hopper - May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day!
While I was looking at Mother’s Day for this sermon, I scrolled through the internet for some history of Mother’s Day, because I didn’t really know where it came from. This is some of what I found.
In the United States, the origins of the official holiday go back to 1870, when Julia Ward Howe—an abolitionist who was also the poet who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—worked to establish a Mother’s Peace Day. Howe dedicated the celebration to the eradication of war, and organized Mother’s Peace Day gatherings in Boston for years.
In 1907 Anna Jarvis, from Philadelphia, began a campaign to establish a national Mother's Day. She persuaded her mother's church in West Virginia to celebrate Mother's Day on the second anniversary of her mother's death, the 2nd Sunday of May. By the next year Mother's Day was also celebrated in Philadelphia.

Anna Jarvis and her supporters began to write to ministers, businessman, and politicians about establishing a national Mother's Day. It was successful. By 1911 Mother's Day was celebrated in almost every state. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother's Day as a national holiday, to be held each year on the 2nd Sunday of May. He established the day as a time for "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."
Today’s commercialized celebration of candy, flowers, gift certificates, and lavish meals at restaurants bears little resemblance to the original idea. There is nothing wrong with that. But here, for the record’s sake, is the proclamation she wrote in 1870, which explains, in her own impassioned words, the goals of the original holiday.
“Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause.

"Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, "Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice." Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.

As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead. Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each learning after his own time, the sacred impress, not of Caesar, but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.”

So the original Mother’s Day originally had to do with peace, and abolishing war. Julie Ward Howe felt that if this were to happen, or had any change of becoming part of the national conversation, it was up to women.
In Psalms 34:14 it says: “Seek peace and pursue it”.
In Proverbs 14:30: “A heart at peace gives life to the body.”

So say hello to the original intent of Mother’s Day, and also say hello to today’s way of commemorating Mother’s Day by honoring and celebrating mothers. We can combine both ways of celebrating Mother’s Day by working to be at peace with our mothers, and also, if you are a mother, to be at peace with yourself as a mother.

As the children of our mothers, we tend to be very critical of them. All of us have judged our mothers; sometimes we have judged them quite a lot. We have blamed them for everything under the sun: if only she had raised us that way instead of this way; why did she always tell me that? Why didn’t she do what she was supposed to? Why didn’t she love me the way I wanted; or why did she smother me; if she had only given me this or that; if only we’d had a different kind of life; whatever.

At times I have judged both my mother and my father unmercifully.

Oftentimes when you think about your mother, you have a mixture of feelings. There is love, and there is some type of resentment or blame. You think of the fun times, we think of all she did for us, and we know or we think she did the best she could – maybe – but then as adults you can see some of her issues and then you look at your own emotional baggage, and you’re resentful. Sometimes you don’t think she did the best she could, you just feel that you were abandoned, or not taken care of, or not listened to, or whatever it is for you. Even as adults we still have these feelings and these pictures, and a lot of our identity can be based on them.

Give yourself permission to have anger at your mother, or resentment, or whatever emotions you’re carrying around about her. Once you give yourself permission to have those feelings, you can also see if you want to release them so they don’t clog you up or keep you in the past. See if you can.

Also, we tend to forget where our mothers might have been coming from; what her fears were, how young she was, how she didn’t really know what she was doing, either, how she was doing the best she could at the time given the information and programming she had.

We also forget that our mothers might have been so busy being “other” oriented, especially with their kids and family, that she didn’t really have time or awareness to take care of herself. And because she didn’t really take care of her own needs very well, she might not have been very aware of herself as an individual.

When you look at it, usually our mothers’ energy was with someone else, or somewhere else, but not with her. You can see how it is that maybe her self-image wasn’t too good, how could it be if she didn’t have much of her own energy in her space? Perhaps you can understand that her consciousness about herself wasn’t totally there.

I think that was true of my mother. She was very “other” oriented and didn’t have a way to serve herself in a way that was nurturing. My father didn’t know how to help her with that, he was too busy with his important Work. And of course we kids only knew what we needed or wanted or wished we had.

See if you can be at peace with your mother. See if you can own your own mockup to be your mother’s child. It was an agreement between the two you; you had your reasons for being her child, she had her reasons for being your mother. You each had your own paths, but they were intertwined with each other. You learned from each other, however that learning occurred, and whether you liked it or not at the time, or even now.

Own your mockup and give your mother permission to have had her own path as well. Through understanding your judgment of your mother might decrease and you can be more at peace in your relationship with her.

The same thing is true if you are a mother. Give yourself permission to have your own anger at your kids, and upset that you don’t have enough space for yourself. Give yourself permission to be a person, not just a mother. You have your issues, your frustrations, your anger, your disappointments, your difficulties with your dual identities as a person and as a mother.

Let your perfect pictures go, release your “shoulds”. Give yourself some space and some permission and validation for being the best person and mother that you can be at this time. Some times will seem better than others, and that’s ok, too. Give yourself some peace within.

Say hello again to yourself and to your mother. Update any agreements with her. If you are a mother, you can update your agreements with your kids.

In Philippians, he talks about the “peace of God, which transcends all understanding.” Say hello to that, and allow that kind of peace of come into your space to heal what needs healing.


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