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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Problems with Mothers' Day Preaching

One problem that we run into as an enlightened community addressing celebrations like Mothers' Day is that not everyone has a mother in anything other than a biological sense. And, perhaps worse, some have been abused by their mothers.

This leads me to the question of whether this day is celebrating our individual mothers, or the notion of motherhood. Surely as the holiday stands today, we are doing both. I think for purposes of my sermon, I will want to focus on the latter.

Josh notes in his comment to the last post that the phrase "ideal mother" is cringe-worthy. I can't argue with that, particularly in as much as the phrase suggests to a ranking. What I was trying to get to was the idea that there is an ideal of motherhood, as something that Plato or Aristotle would acknowledge.

Which brings me to the second big problem. I believe that fathers are nurturing and kind and strong enough to make tough decisions. So, can we celebrate motherhood without dismissing fatherhood? I hope so.

The final problem is that the Bible does not always shine a bright light on mothers. Think about Sarah sending Hagar away. Think about Rebekkah as so strongly favoring Jacob over Esau.

4 comments:

Susan said...

Personally, I think churches need not address Mother's Day at all! I have a friend who avoids church that day because her mother is dead and she is not a mother herself. Luke and I avoided it for a few years because there is a sadness to Mother's Day when you have lost a child and all the hoopla gets to me. It is not a religious holiday - why must the church celebrate it?

JimII said...

It is true that Mothers' Day is not a religious holiday. And, I do not think that it is necessary for churches to mention it. Furthermore, I think we can be sensative that any holiday can be difficult for some among us.

I also think, however, that it is conspicuous when a church ignores a national holiday like Veterans Day, Thanksgiving etc. Indeed, one reason to address it is that it is on the mind of the parishioners. In addition, I think motherhood is something worthy of celebrating. True, there are those for whom the topic is painful. But what can we talk about at church that is not painful for someone?

I believe that our Christian faith is about how we live our lives. We cannot limit our discussions to abstract or milquetoast ideas. We have to talk about what is happening in our lives when we are not in church. And motherhood is a big part of that; and Mothers' Day seems like a good day to talk about it.

Does that answer the question why to celebrate Mothers' Day? Or, more to the point, is it a helpful answer?

Susan said...

I agree that Mother's Day should be mentioned. Mother's should not be asked to stand up nor given flowers etc. (have witnessed this). I guess it "makes sense" to do it on that day but I argue, why not at any other time, or during a sermon series about family or something.

Matt Dick said...

One reason to choose Mother's Day is so that people could avoid it since they see it coming. If it's painful, it gives you that option.

I think that was a weak argument, but it popped into my head.

Other thoughts:

We can absolutely celebrate mothers without denigrating fathers. If someone sees it any other way, then they have a flawed, zero-sum notion of praise and celebration. We cannot be forced to alter our better instincts by people who have a flawed vision of reality.

werunco