Culture At Large

Mother's Day sermons...ugh

Caryn Rivadeneira

After church last week, Pastor Gregg asked me if I had any wisdom to impart as he prepared his Mother’s Day sermon for this coming Sunday. The text apparently is Genesis 29ish, where Jacob marries Leah and Rachel. We’re working through a series on this crazy family, which has been a blessing because these guys make me feel so much better about my own fam! Because of this text, though, he was understandably feeling a tad unsure of how this could tie into Mother’s Day in any sort of nice fashion.

So I did my quick little Mother’s Day thing about how the truth is that most of us just actually want the day off, a day away from the children and husbands we love so so much. How the perfect Mother’s Day really requires no mothering. Then I went into my little joke about how I think we really could use another wife in my house. “A good one, though, this time,” I said for the millionth time in my life because I don’t think Pastor Gregg had heard my spiel (he’s new). “One who can clean the house and watch the kids.”

He didn’t think it was quite as funny as I do, but he didn’t look at me like I was too insane, which was good.

I’m so tired of Mother’s Day being light and fluffy. I think moms should be celebrated - but not coddled.

All this to say I totally blanked in any wisdom I could impart on this topic, so I said I’d get back to him. This is my getting back to him.

Here’s what I really think about Mother’s Day at church. I like when we hand out those yummy, free-trade chocolate bars at the end of the service to all women (but I will be OK if we had to cut those due to budget concerns). I love that my pastors always mention the women who long to be mothers but have not yet had that dream fulfilled (the Leah and Rachel thing works well for this). But I always get worried that a Mother’s Day sermon will feel forced, or worse, “light.”

Recently I received a catalog from a local Christian book store featuring all sorts of stuff for Mother’s Day. Tea cups. Stupid plaques. Gift books. (Of course, I’m bitter because my book wasn’t featured, but this bias doesn’t mean it’s not true). Essentially a bunch of Jesus junk that no mom actually needs. Nothing to encourage moms to go deep into their gifts, to focus on their Maker or to see how we’re made and who we’re made to be. Nothing to challenge them to live out faith in daring, dangerous ways. Nothing to get to know God better. Nothing deep, powerful, impactful, moving, meaningful, eternal...

Now, if you like this sort of stuff, great. Fine. Good. But I’m so tired of Mother’s Day being light and fluffy. I think moms should be celebrated - but not coddled. Mother’s Day just perpetuates the lowering-the-standard thing that happens to women when they become moms. Like having children should zap out every other meaningful, challenging thing (including getting deep with God) in our lives.

Back to my advice to Pastor Gregg. Say Happy Mother’s Day. And then preach the sermon that God spilled into your heart and head. Don’t make it about Mother’s Day. Where the Holy Spirit guides you is where it needs to go and what mothers and fathers and non-moms and non-dads and kids and old people and singles and gay people and whoever else is sitting in that building needs to hear.

Topics: Culture At Large, Theology & The Church, Worship, Home & Family, Family, Parenting