Readings are here.
Textweek features the art and writing of Jan Richardson who explores the links between breath and fire and the stories of the people of God from the burning bush to today. On the Day of Pentecost the disciples receive the Holy Spirit and it manifests as tongues of fire. As God spoke from the burning bush to urge Moses to lead his people to liberation so the fire of the Holy Spirit is for the liberation of all people. We gather around fires as communities to tell the story of our faith. A friend of mine says church is just a formalized way of gathering the people, lighting the fire and telling the story. It is what we do in one way or another.
This Sunday is also Mother's Day - a day that has become the high holy day of the Hallmark calendar. It began with a very different intent than a sentimental day of idealized motherhood. According to wikepedia:
The United States celebrates Mother's Day on the second Sunday in May. In the United States, Mother's Day was loosely inspired by the British day and was imported by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother's Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother's Day for Peace. Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mothers' Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
When Jarvis died in 1907, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women. The first such Mother's Day was celebrated in Grafton, West Virginia, on 10 May 1908, in the church where the elder Ann Jarvis had taught Sunday School. Originally the Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, this building is now the International Mother's Day Shrine (a National Historic Landmark). From there, the custom caught on — spreading eventually to 45 states. The holiday was declared officially by some states beginning in 1912. In 1914 President Woodrow Wilson declared the first national Mother's Day, as a day for American citizens to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.
Nine years after the first official Mother's Day, commercialization of the U.S. holiday became so rampant that Anna Jarvis herself became a major opponent of what the holiday had become. Mother's Day continues to this day to be one of the most commercially successful U.S. occasions. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother's Day is now the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States.
Julia Ward Howe and Anna Jarvis meant it as a day to free the world of war. They hoped that the world would become inspired.
Inspired comes from the word for "breath" --- which is what the Holy Spirit does to make a new creation. The Spirit breathed upon the creation in the beginning, breathed life into humankind, spoke from the burning bush, led the people of Israel through the desert with a cloud by day and fire by night and today we celebrate the Spirit - inspiring the church to become the people of God.
Painting by Alexander Sadoyan