“You Need Them”

I never sent my mother flowers for Mother’s Day. She sent them to me. Every year for the second Sunday in May she sent to her eight children and their spouses red corsages with notes that said, “I’m glad I’m your Mama” or “I’m glad I’m your Mother-in-Love.” She called herself that instead of a mother-in-law.

Memaw, as we called her, was the matriarch of the Neely family. She ran the show, and nobody complained. Why would they? It was a great show. We were a large and crazy mixed-up family with varying political, social and religious views. But when we got together, none of those differences mattered. Memaw taught us to be a family. Robert Frost once wrote that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” Memaw made home a place where we wanted to go, and she taught us how to take each other in.

In her book, Families, Jane Howard wrote, “Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” This month whatever your family looks like, whatever you call them, no matter how much you differ, take time to celebrate each other. You need them.

The other day a church member was in the hospital. When I walked into the room, the individual said, “I told them only family is allowed to visit me.” I responded, “I am family, I am your pastor and that makes me part of the family.” Church is family, a place where we go and they have to take us in. I know that not all mothers are like mine, open and welcoming to all who cross their threshold. Yet that is who Christ has called the church to be, a place we can go that is welcoming and will not judge us.

I have seen signs on churches that read, “All Are Welcome.” But I often wonder if there needs to be some clarification, such as “Except . . .” or “Well, Almost Everyone.” What I would really like to see is, “Yes Everyone, Including You.” May God give us the grace to see everyone as a part of the family of God, everyone as our  brothers and sisters. After all, it is what Mama, or Memaw, expects of us, and what God expects as well. Have a blessed Mother’s Day.

Bill