May 20, 2010

Making the most of Mother's Day


Mother's Day is quite a big deal in Venezuela. In terms of sales volume of cards, gift, food and other items, Mother's Day is nearly equal to Christmas as a commercial holiday. But celebrating Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May is not a native Venezuelan tradition. Rather, it is the modern, secular version of Mother's Day which originated in the United States during the early 20th Century.

For a long time in western Christendom, the special day for honoring mothers was the fourth Sunday of Lent, still marked on the historic liturgical calendar as Laetare Sunday.Depending on the year, Laetare Sunday may fall on any date from March 1 to April 4. "Laetare" is Latin for "rejoice". The introit for Laetare opens the service with words from Isaiah 66:10, “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her, all you who love her..."

However, the tradition of celebrating the fourth Sunday in Lent as " target="_blank">"Mothering Sunday" apparently only survives in Great Britain, Ireland and perhaps a few other places. With a few other exceptions, a majority of nations have officially accepted the second Sunday in May to be Mother's Day since President Woodrow Wilson established this date as a U.S. holiday in 1914.
We observed Mother's Day on Sunday, May 9, with activities after the service, and in the preschool Monday, May 10. Both times there was cake and refreshments. There were two cakes on Sunday. One was for all the mothers in attendance and the other was a birthday cake for Luz Maria (her birthday is May 5).

For Sunday's sermon text, I used the epistle for Rogate Sunday (the fifth Sunday after Easter, or the sixth Sunday of Easter, depending on how you phrase it), James 1: 22-27, especially verse 27, which says, "Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

It says in part, "An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels...Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."
Luisana and her parents
According to the book of Genesis, Eve, the first woman, was created to be a blessing to her husband and her children, and God intended all children to have both mothers and fathers. But sin entered the world, and now there are all sorts of unfortunate situations, such as single parents who do not have the resources to raise young children on their own, senior citizens who have no families to care for them, and, of course, children who have no parents at all. In the time of St. James, widows and orphans were the most marginalized members of society. It still is the mark of living Christian faith and love to care for those less fortunate than ourselves. Not that we are saved by our good works, but rather saving faith bears fruit in our loving others as God has loved us.

On Monday, I once again read from Proverbs 31 and lead an opening prayer, but the occasion was more just an opportunity for the mothers to enjoy presentations from their children (one being a song-and-dance number on proper table etiquette).

Beyond confirmation class


On Sunday, May 16, Noel Marquina received his certificate from the Juan de Frias Theological Institute for completing the course in "Basic Christian Doctrine". Noel is the first of our youth to complete a Bible study course beyond basic confirmation instruction.

A fine cassava crop

The rainy season continues and one result has been a reduction in the duration of our daily power outages to two hours or less. Another is the fine crop from the cassava that Luz Maria planted. Cassava is a tropical tuber that is often used as a substitute for potatoes here. They grow potatoes here, but mainly up in the mountains. You can order french-fried cassava instead of french-fried potatoes at McDonald's restaurants in Venezuela.

CassavaAnother potato substitute is plantains. Plantains look like bananas, but are not as sweet. They taste more like, well, potatoes. Some people prefer plantain chips to potato chips as a snack.

Luz Maria also planted a small grove of papaya trees, but it may be another year before they start producing. Our avocado trees are in full production now, We still have plenty of limes, too.

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