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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.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Next Speaking Engagement

I will be preaching at Chalice Christian Church on Mother's Day. I would like to use this in the service:
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: "We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says "Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice."

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of
Mothers' Day Proclamation: Julia Ward Howe, Boston, 1870. I am also interested in using the story of Hagar and Ishmael found here. The theme of the sermon will be that strength, particularly in the face of tragedy, is a characteristic of the ideal mother.

Any thoughts?