Our pastor plans to bypass the traditional Mother’s Day sermon again this year in favor of continuing his mini-series on Reverent 4 and 5. That suits me; I love hearing about the supremacy of Christ! If he let every holiday interrupt his preaching, we’d never make any headway in working through God’s Word.
Not that I oppose Mother’s Day sermons. When they’re given with sensitivity toward women who haven’t been blessed with children, they can bring honor to the Lord. Chiefly, they honor Him by reinforcing His commandment to honor our fathers and our mothers (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1–3). As the culture moves further and further away from traditional family values, our churches do well to remind us of God’s design for family structures.
Yes, readers, I realize that Mother’s Day was originally created in 1914 by Ana Jarvis. Because only four of her 13 children lived past infancy, she began the Mother’s Day movement in memory of them. Shortly thereafter, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed that the United States would set aside the second Sunday of each May as Mother’s Day.
Of course, the greeting card industry wasted little time in co-opting the observance, morphing it into yet another commercial enterprise. As a result, it’s understandable that people could view its insertion into Sunday worship services as an inappropriate intrusion. After all, Scripture nowhere teaches us to set aside a specific Sunday for the purpose of celebrating motherhood.
Scripture does, however, celebrate motherhood as a virtue. As I’ve already noted, the Bible commands that we honor our mothers. This particular Hallmark holiday actually turns our attention back to God’s desire that we recognize the women who have loved and nurtured us.
Interestingly, Proverbs depicts the pitfalls of failing to honor our mothers as a way of teaching us to treasure them. Take this verse, for instance.
Listen to your father who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old. ~~Proverbs 23:22 (ESV)
Despising one’s mother comes so easily, especially if that mother neglected or abused us. In truth, each of our moms have sinned against us, so each of us can come up with valid reasons to despise them. More often than we want to admit, the thought of honoring our mothers galls us.
If we’re not moms ourselves, this unwillingness to sit through a sermon encouraging us to honor our mothers intensifies. I’ve spent far too many Mother’s Days resenting my pastors for preaching on the importance of motherhood because I chose to focus on the relatively few times my mom sinned against me.
Thinking back on my bitter attitudes, it occurs to me that I needed Mother’s Day sermons precisely because I indulged in despising my mom. I needed the Lord to remind me of His command that I honor her.
Whether or not Mother’s Day is merely another marketing tool for Hallmark and Kay’s Jewelers, the Lord uses it to bring us back to His commandment. He calls us to honor these women, even when they sin against us, out of obedience to Him. In His faithfulness, He even gives us the grace to obey Him in this matter.