With tomorrow being Mother's Day, I thought I would take a few minutes to do a "deep dive" of sorts and offer a few humble thoughts about how this annual holiday pertains to Christ's Church.
For starters, I found an interesting little paper written by a Lutheran named C.H. Little who was the Professor of Dogmatic And Systematic Theology in the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, way back in 1933.
Of course, living in Buffalo, NY, Ontario, Canada is just a short drive from where I live, which added a little more intrigue to my chance discovery.
Anyway, here's what he wrote back in May 1933 that I think is a good place for us to start...
The observance of Mother's Day is of recent origin. It had its inception in the mind of a woman, who, reflecting upon all that her mother had done for her, and meditating upon all that she was to her, conceived the idea of embracing all mothers in the category and of setting aside a special day for the commemoration of motherhood.
The idea took like wildfire, particularly in the Reformed Churches, where special festivals are frowned upon and all "Sabbaths" are placed on a dead level. It was an unconscious testimony to the need of festivals in these Churches. But, like many other things, the observance spread beyond the bounds of the Churches in which it originated; and the festival was taken up in many Lutheran Churches, where it is still observed. The question that arises is, Is it a festival that fits into the Church Year?
Now, it is quite true that the very thought and mention of mother carries with it a stirring appeal to all right-minded children; and many mothers are worthy of all the praise that is bestowed upon them in such celebrations as Mother's Day.
The writer would fall behind none in the esteem which he has for his aged mother, now well past the four score years of her age; and he never fails daily to thank God for her and for her blessed influence over him and for her deep love, which goes out to him still as her first-born child. For over thirty years he has never failed to write her a letter every week, and his affection for her knows no bounds. And yet he can never become reconciled to the substitution for the Gospel of the Church Year, which centers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the glorification of even so intimate a relation as motherhood.
The words of the Lord Jesus Christ and His action, when one told Him that His mother and His brethren stood without, desiring to speak to Him, always come to mind: "But He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!"
Is it right, in view of the further words of the Lord, "He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me," to displace the Gospel of Jesus Christ by devoting the day to the praise of mother? This seems particularly out of place in the post-Easter season, which is devoted to the joyful praise of the Risen Lord. To supplant the glorious Gospel of the Day by a eulogy upon any earthly relation, even one so dear as that of mother, is, to say the least, jarring to one's spiritual sense of the fitness of things. It is almost as bad as the substituting of Father and Son Day for the First Sunday in Advent. And it certainly mars the harmony of the Church Year.
A dear old lady, now passed to her reward, once said to the writer, "There would be no need for Mother's Day if children always treated their mother as they ought." And she was undoubtedly right. The writer does not think that anything he may say will change the view of those Lutherans who have adopted Mother's Day and are zealous advocates of this institution; but he wishes to bear this testimony against the innovation.
How splendid was that?
You know, I'm constantly amazed by how often the same issues and controversies keep presenting themselves within Christ's Church even after several decades of debate and discussion.
I'm even more surprised by the fact that every generation has men like this C.H. Little guy to serve us a healthy dose of the truth, and yet, we Lutherans have continued to ignore such sound, Biblical truths.
That's brings us to an article of a very similar nature -- a bookend of sorts -- except this one was written in the present day and age.
A few days ago, I read a commentary from the Sisters of Katie Luther website that was courageous and oh so necessary. It had to do with the constant pressure to "Give The People What They Want!" when it should be "Give The People What They Need!" within Christ's Church.
For me it was Mother’s Day; for another I’m sure it’s Father’s Day or Veteran’s day or the anniversary of a divorce. We all have that annual day that we are crushed by the sting of a past or present reality. Dwelling on it doesn’t help, but so often that’s what the sermon we hear on that day does. It points us to dwell on what we didn’t actually experience and neglects to point us to that place where we do actually experience God’s love.
It's a very short commentary, but it packs a big punch so please take the time to read it. Plus, I agree with everything that was written.
I hope that many people reading this would agree that the vocation of being a mom is a true gift from God! I love my mom with all my heart. I love my mother-in-law even though most guys I know dislike theirs. I love my wife, the mother of and to my kids, in a way that words can't even begin to describe.
However, I love the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, even more than them though, and He is the reason why we go to church each week. We go to receive His blessed gifts given for us in the form of His Means of Grace, which are His holy Word preached and His holy Sacraments administered to our hungry, sinful souls.
Therefore, even if every single mom on the planet were a wonderful blessing to their child, He should still be the only Person we honor tomorrow morning during the Worship Services that will be held on Mother's Day 2015.
I'm sure that is probably the "unpopular" perspective and that I'm in the minority here. "What's the big deal?" some of you say, right? I mean, God gave us mothers, so why not celebrate and honor them as one of His other gifts to us. Well, in short, for reasons like those explained in the above commentaries. That's why.
More importantly, because celebrating Mother's Day with our moms is what the rest of the day is set aside for, but it shouldn't really be what a church service is supposed to be about, but there I go being all weird about doctrine again. Gosh, for all I know, I suppose some of you might even think I'm "anti-Moms" now just for sharing/writing this.
My dear friends, nothing could be further from the truth. I just want and need Jesus during the Divine Service way more than I need my mom, mother-in-law, and/or wife, because of Who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to do for me (and for you!) during that special time each week.
Pastors, this Sunday, please preach to us about the Messiah and not about the moms in our life like so many of you often do on Mother's Day, because only He has the power to forgive, to restore, and to save us to eternal life, and I know the moms in my life would want that kind of a future for me.
In a Lutheran layman's terms, this Sunday, I'd prefer to enjoy a Supper instituted by Jesus Christ rather than one prepared by my mom, mother-in-law, or wife.
NOTE: I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or a Christian, Candy-Making, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this note, I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little over a year ago. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and point us back to) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Finally, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote on this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). In addition, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries. I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a dude's diary in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Grace and peace to you and yours!