By Rev. Dayna Vreeken
Mother’s Day has come and gone. Being a mother is an incredible thing – celebrating, thanking and appreciating mothers is appropriate. Often, mothers are gifts to their children.
However, I am aware of the angst Mother’s Day brings up for so many women and men. I remember distinctly the day my six-year-old self became aghast with the realization my aunts who were single or without children would not be celebrated. So I created ‘Aunty Day,’ not yet fathoming the truth there were so many others for who Mother’s Day amplifies their grief, anxieties, pain, anger, insecurities and struggles. We must feel this pain if we want to find healing, but I keep asking how a celebration of beautiful people became so painful.
I know, the Bible and church is not always known for this, but they’re filled with good news for women. The Bible celebrates and advocates for women – it is filled with women playing a vital part in the world. Women are given a viable place in society before they had one, invited to participate in the work of building a world where goodness and beauty and love could exist more and more, gifted a task and purpose in our world which they are to take up, protected and given a voice before they had one, celebrated for doing things with valour – great courage and boldness, given tasks and status only men had previously enjoyed and recognized for the gift of their robust presence in the world not simply for the gift of their marital or kid status.
In the Bible there are women who are prophetesses – women who heard from God and spoke God’s words to kings and leaders; midwives who rose up and disobeyed orders of kings so children could live; political and military leaders who changed the course of history; justice workers, seeking the healing and freedom of many people; teachers who taught men and women about spiritual matters; who were taught by Jesus before women were ever taught; given the task of bearing a child who will change the outcome of history; advocates for peace and bring about a change of heart in many leaders; eyewitnesses who were trusted to report on significant events though their word meant nothing.
God has always valued women and has asked them to take up their place in the world with valour and to fill it with love, justice and peace. He has asked this of men. But women, too.
Also, the church affirms the adage, “It takes a village to raise a child.” When babies are born we hold services to dedicate or baptize them, here we celebrate the child’s life, their place in the community and ask all those within the church if they will help us raise our child in faith and nurture them for life. We recognize how each person, no matter gender, marital status or kid status, has a special role to play in our upbringing, nurturing, supporting, encouraging, gifting us with wisdom and positioning us to live life well even when challenges arise.
Therefore, it’s appropriate and necessary for the church and broader community to celebrate all women well – to not do so severely truncates the importance and value of all the women who shaped us and changed our world. Our celebrations should move toward leaving room to grieve the reality women stumble and our relationships are complicated.
We should move away from focusing on women’s ability to bear/raise children, or the power of women and singing praises only of the beauty of their bodies. And move toward celebrating them as God does – toward recognizing and appreciating their valuable and robust presence in the world, the valour with which they approach and complete their tasks and mission in the world and their ability to fill the world with more love, justice and peace – all the while, encouraging, strengthening and supporting them to continue on well.
Rev. Dayna Vreeken is the associate pastor at Woody Nook CRC.