Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day Sermons

One of the vexing questions every pastor faces is whether to preach a Mother's Day sermon.

On the one hand, it's Mother's Day. On the other hand, Jesus didn't invent or command (or for that matter forbid) Mother's Day.

On the one hand, everyone will be thinking about Mother's Day. On the other hand, some people are bummed out by Mother's Day. Especially if their first reminder of it is through your sermon!

On the one hand, churches want to encourage and strengthen families. On the other hand, we shouldn't idolize family or neglect singles.

So what's the official stance here at Moose Are? Well, Jeff can weigh in later. My thoughts are these:

First of all, I was a single guy till I was almost 31 years old. I heard many Mother's Day sermons when I was twentysomething and single, and it never bothered me. It seemed to me that the topic applies to everyone, because we all need discernment about God's design for motherhood--especially in our confused culture. We all should want to minister to, or to encourage, moms (not least of all our own). And so forth.

Second, if you are going to preach a Mother's Day sermon, be biblical. Sometimes churches praise mothers on their day and lambast fathers on theirs. Or, sermons can be a long list of what it means to be a great mom--but Jesus didn't come to call the righteous moms, but the sinful moms.

Yet the best approach, I think, is this. Don't preach Mother's Day sermons or Father's Day sermons every year. Do it occasionally. Instead, frequently apply God's word to moms and dads as you're preaching throughout the year. I'd say easily 40-45 weeks of the year, you should be saying something--even if it's brief--to dads and/or moms. Give concrete examples from your own experience of parenting whenever able.

The advantage here is that you avoid needing to do a "special series" on child-raising or marriage (although these are fine, if God leads). You won't feel as if you haven't addressed these important topics because you do so frequently, and from many angles. Another advantage is that you don't just say the obvious. If you're preaching a sermon on heaven, tell parents what it means to have an eternal perspective not only on their lives but for their kids. If you're preaching on the church, tell parents the importance of involving their kids in worship and/or the body of Christ. Of course, another advantage is that this doesn't give the appearance of disregarding singles, widows, etc., for weeks at a time.

And lest I be unclear... Mother's Day sermons are great. I've preached 'em, I've appreciated hearing 'em. We need 'em. But I just think the best approach renders it unnecessary to have one every year.

I'm thankful for my wife... who is, in fact, a mom too. She's the one who encouraged me to follow this approach. She's smart, and I like that about her.


Aubrey said...

As someone who desperately wanted to be a mother but couldn't - I know that Mother's day, especially when the entire sermon is about being a mom, can be very hard. Many women with infertility stay home from church on mother's day because they don't want to leave crying. Yes, mothers are good, but I do think it's good to remember the struggles that some may have in the congregation. So I agree that it is probably better to talk to parents each week, and also how the message could be applied to singles, widows, etc. And pastors need to remember and be sensitive to some of the very painful struggles some people have, especially in this area.

Jeff said...

Thankfully, I have never been vexed by the question of whether or not to preach a Mother's Day sermon. I just don't do it. Actually, this morning I DID say "happy Mother's day" during the announcements before the service began, and it felt a little weird. I think that was the most I've acknowledged any holiday in church. (except Easter and Christmas, I acknowledge those!) Otherwise, I like holidays, it just never occurred to me to preach a special sermon for them...

Jeff said...

Actually, last year I was preaching through Mark, and I didn't break stride for a special Easter sermon either. But the text for the week was the transfiguration, which I thought was pretty appropriate for Easter. Then in September I preached on the crucifixion in Mark on Yom Kippur (the day of atonement). That was not a special yom kippur sermon, but it did fit well!

This year I did break stride in my Ephesians series for a special Easter sermon. I guess I'm becoming a conformist.

Joel Pearce said...

Cheryl is a smart one, Ken...I don't prefer Mother's Day sermons, but I'm not against the occasional preaching of them (ones based on biblical texts, and not just preached to the mothers of the church). I am concerned more by the overemphasis in the church on what have become "hallmark holidays" as compared to the church's own "holidays." Ascension Day and Pentecost are coming up in the next couple weeks, and I'd be willing to bet that more churches in America celebrated Mother's Day yesterday in one way or another than will celebrate either of those two days, which some argue are the most important Christian feast days after to Easter.

Ken said...

I think that it's almost the opposite situations with days like Pentecost Sunday. In that case, you want to celebrate/recognize every year in order for it to have impact (esp on young'ns).

Jeff--I'd like to hear more about why you don't want to preach an Easter sermon. I grant you that it's not biblically required to preach a topical resurrection sermon on the designated Sunday. However, it seems to me that by our country actually recognizing Easter (and Christmas) as holidays, we might as well take advantage of the visitor who is coming to find out what it's all about... It's as if people in our country are saying on that day, "So what's up with this resurrection thing anyway?" (Unless they are staying home and eating candy which doesn't apply in this case.)

To me it's all about opportunities for instruction and for evangelism...