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Mother’s Day – USA

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day in the USA is in May (14th in 2023). I have been doing a bit of homework to find out about the tradition here because it is different to Mothering Sunday in England where I come from. Read more here. Whilst I was reading I was struck by the unusual history of the day and wondered if perhaps there was something the Lord wanted us to reclaim from the consumeristic celebrations that mark the occasion. 

Mother’s Day was officially established as the second Sunday in May in the USA by President Woodrow Wilson in 1914. The official U.S holiday was created after much campaigning by Anna Jarvis who wanted a special day to celebrate the sacrifices mothers made for their children. She envisaged it as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families when people would visit their mothers and/or attend church services to give thanks. As the day became more and more commercialised Anna Jarvis actually denounced Mothers Day and tried to have it removed from the American calendar!

But her idea began from the outpouring of love and service that she saw in her own mother. Anna Reeves Jarvis, was known as ‘Mother Jarvis’. She was a young Appalachian homemaker who taught Sunday School lessons. Before the Civil War she organized ‘Mothers Day Work Clubs’ in West Virginia to help educate mothers and combat the unsanitary living conditions and high infant mortality rate. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region still divided by the Civil War and in 1868 she organised ‘Mother’s Friendship Day’ to gather mothers with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote peace and reconciliation. 

Another pioneer of Mother’s Day was Julia Ward Howe, who called for. ‘Mother’s Day for Peace’ dedicated to the celebration of peace and the eradication of war. She wrote her “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 to express her feeling that ‘mothers should gather to prevent the cruelty of war and the waste of life since mothers of mankind alone bear and know the cost’. 

It struck me that the origins of Mother’s Day in the USA were rooted in a desire to help people have better lives than their poverty dictated, and in the hope that family love (that they saw expressed through mothers) could be the source of peace-making. 

And that brought me right back to Jesus. He invites us to follow his Way of Life and share in the fellowship of Christian ‘family.’ That is how we will overcome the poverty of spirit, as well as other kinds of poverty, that plague our world. And as we share life together we will be the peacemakers he designed us to be as his children. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt 5:9

I’m not sure my gift for Mother’s Day will catch on. It doesn’t cost anything in £’s and $’s but it could cost your life.  It is a prayer of invitation to a Way of Life where the blessings are beyond measure. 

For mothers, fathers, children and people of all ages and stages of life:

Lord, may we be blessed as we commit our lives to living your way of life that looks like this: 

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 

Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

(Matthew 5:3-12)


Samantha is an Inspire Missioner serving as a missionary from England in the USA

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