Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day or Mothers Day?

son-2935723_1920.jpg

What’s the correct way to spell the event to be celebrated this coming Sunday? The internet provides a number of options, including all three of the formats in the title of this article.

One website titled Communications Syllabus adds this note: Anna Jarvis, the woman largely behind this holiday, wanted the day to “honor one’s own mother, not mothers in general.” And so the apostrophe fits snuggly between the r and the s, and nowhere else.

Actually, in all transparency, the purpose of this article is not to argue the correct spelling of the day but to share a thought I passed along to a fellow pastor who recently asked how I handled preaching on Mother’s Day. Here’s what I told him, not verbatim, but pretty close to it.

In my humble opinion, preachers make a mistake when they only or even primarily honor the mothers in the church pews the second Sunday in May. That may be well and good for those who just happen to be mothers, but what about those who have never been thusly blessed?

In my pastoral career I’ve encountered no small number of women who have not been blessed with children. Some have learned to accept that reality. Others still grieve deeply.

That grief may be exacerbated when the pastor makes a big deal of honoring mothers in church on Mother’s Day. Doing so may not be helpful to women in attendance who are not mothers.

The suggestion I offered my friend was that pastors do well when they encourage their listeners to honor their mother, whether she is still living this side of heaven or is already a heavenly resident.

Everyone has a mother. Some are still living. Others are not. Mine passed away this past January. Some have or had positive, fulfilling relationships with their mother. Others not so much. Mine was a great blessing. But the reality is, everyone has or had a mother.

Emphasizing on Mother’s Day the importance of thanking God for our mother avoids embarrassment and discomfort experienced by non-mothers when mothers in the crowd are the ones primarily, or exclusively, honored.

Some pastors who read this article may disagree. It won’t be the first time I’ve encountered disagreement with fellow “brothers of the cloth” and I doubt it will be the last. But I betcha’ many women readers, both those who are mothers and those who are not, will say Amen!

This Sunday I’ll thank God for my mother. I encourage you to do the same.

Advertisements

Fatherly Influence

Father - DaughterAs most are aware, last Sunday was Father’s Day. In our home, that calls for a celebration including a very nice home cooked meal. Usually I cook the meat on the grill outside and Terry does everything else inside. All family members who can come fill our dining room table.

Much of the time we laugh a lot. We also talk about subjects of current interest. Sometimes I’ll ask folks at the table to relate any memories about their father (in the case of our kids that’s me) they feel like sharing. Those stories are sometimes funny, sometimes sad and sometimes serious.

Often I’ll talk about my father, Martin Herbert Otto Kieschnick, recalling quotes and pithy sayings for which he was fairly famous. A few examples:

  • On gaining painless experience: I’d like to learn how to shave on someone else’s beard.
  • On an egotistical person: I’d like to buy that man for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’s worth.
  • On the importance of personal values when hiring an employee: You won’t end up with good BBQ if you don’t start with a good piece of meat.
  • On Christian giving: You can’t out-give the Lord. He has a bigger shovel than you do.
  • On marital faithfulness: One woman is enough for a real man.

While not every person has fond memories of his or her father, mine are almost all very positive. My dear 99-year-old mother, Elda Mary Sofa Hellman Kieschnick, would agree that her husband was not without original sin. She would also agree that the good in the man she married far outweighed the very little bad. My three sisters and all four of our spouses would concur.

So every day, not just Father’s Day, I thank God for my father, the man I called “Dad.” His influence has made a difference in my life, the full extent of which I may never know. I pray the same is true of the influence of my life on our children, grandchildren and, someday, great grandchildren. All of them, including my dear wife Terry, are precious gifts of God in my life!

A Blessed Merry Christmas!

Christmas Lights 1Our home has looked like Christmas for quite a while now. Our travel schedule was fairly heavy this fall, so Terry started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving. About that same time I put up the outdoor lights that line our sidewalks. For both of us, that’s a bit earlier than usual.

But there’s a reason. The local neighborhood association sponsors an annual Christmas tour of homes and Terry was invited to open ours for the occasion. Since December 10 was the chosen date, our preparation and decoration schedules had to be adjusted accordingly.

Terry has always loved to celebrate the seasons! Her primary expression of such celebration has been to unpack the stuff related to the respective season and to display it skillfully around our home. She finds places for decorations that I would never dream would be just the right place. And heaven only knows where she stores all these decorations between seasons. I surely don’t!

Manger scenes in olive wood, ceramic and other media serve as silent testimony to the reason for the season. Collections of angels dominate the parlor, standing guard beside an ancient Bible opened to the Christmas story in Luke 2. More than a score of Nutcrackers stand watch in the kitchen. Swarms of Santas line the stairs. Christmas trees are everywhere, each one decorated to the hilt with ornaments collected during our nearly 48 years of life together.

Different families have different traditions. One of our favorites is for the family to gather for Christmas Eve worship, come home to a dinner of homemade lasagna, gather around the tree in the den for opening gifts, and cap off the evening with a traditional desert, usually “Mint Dazzler.”

Since shopping is not my favorite activity, virtually every gift we give has been selected and purchased by Terry. The lady loves to shop! My contribution to the cause is a few gifts for her and a personal letter to every member of the family, including her, flavored with a monetary gift. The color is always right! The size could be larger, but no one complains or offers to return it.

Even with decorations, family gatherings, special meals and gift giving, Christmas can be a time of stress and sadness, often exacerbated by memories of loved ones who have passed on before us or hearts bruised or broken by decisions or events from the past. But primarily it’s a time of joy!

Terry and I hope for each of you a Christmas full of peace, joy, and thankful hearts. Here is our prayer for you, in the words of A Prayer for Christmas Morning by Robert Louis Stevenson:

The day of joy returns, Father in Heaven, and crowns another year with peace and good will. Help us rightly to remember the birth of Jesus that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and the worship of the wise men. Close the doors of hate and open the doors of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. Deliver us from evil, by the blessing that Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clean hearts. May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children and the Christmas evening bring us to our bed with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

A very Blessed Merry Christmas to each of you!

Thank God for Good Friends

Thanksgiving 1On Thanksgiving Day it’s good to thank God for many blessings, including good friends. Here’s a story titled Two Horses, author unknown:

******************************************
Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse. But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing!

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.  His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. This alone is amazing.

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field. Attached to that horse’s halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owner of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we aren’t perfect or because we have problems or challenges. He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we’re in need.

Sometimes we’re the blind horse, being guided by the little ringing bell of those whom God places in our lives. Other times we’re the guide horse, helping others to find their way.

Good friends are like that. You may not always see them, but you know they’re always there.

******************************************************************************

This Thanksgiving Day I thank God for his love and forgiveness in Christ, for every member of my family and for the many good friends with whom I have been blessed! Perhaps you’ll take a few moments to do the same.