Thursday, May 5, 2011

Mother's Day: A View from the Pulpit

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37ESV)
Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." (Mark 10:29-31ESV)

This time last year I took a plane from upstate New York to fly south to visit my mother for Mother's Day. I did so knowing that in all likelihood, it would be Mom's last Mother's Day here on earth. She died three months later from cancer. I always looked forward to calling Mom on Mother's Day, buying her a gift and such. Dealing with Mother's Day as a Sunday celebration was not always as easy.

Mother's Day was the idea of Anna Jarvis, a Sunday school teacher in West Virginia. President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May a national day of recognition for Mothers. And since then, not only have greeting cards and florists benefited from this day, but churches often devote a worship service honoring our mothers. There may be Scripture readings appropriate for the occasion and prayers said. Coming from a liturgical tradition with a lectionary, usually I would preach on the readings appointed and then allow a child to read a poem or something and add a specific prayer during the intercessions. Occasionally, I have referred to a saint who exemplifies Christian character like St. Monica, the mother of Augustine of Hippo. Mother's day is not always easy for many people. It's hard for women who have had abortions. It's hard for adult children who suffered abuse from their mothers. It's hard for women who have difficulty concieving a child or have not found that special man to spend their life with in the sacrament of marriage. I was fortunate. My mother was a stay at home mom and was always there when I came home from school. She along with my father were responsible for me not missing a Sunday in church and making sure I was raised in the Christian faith. But for me and for those whose childhood and motherhood are less than idealic, there is a hope that the Gospel provides.

Jesus died for each and everyone us. When we are born again we are a new creation, the old has passed away. We cannot go back and undo the past. We can accept God's forgiveness because Jesus met God's judgment on the cross. When we make Mother's Day the soul focus of worship without the preaching of the Gospel, we become guilty of idolatry. God created mothers. Let us not worship creation. (Romans 1:24-25) There are no perfect mothers and there is no perfect childhood. Our attention must always be toward Jesus and His perfect love for us! The woman who cannot be the image of her ideal needs to turn away from that ideal and accept the woman God is creating. He is Lord and is sovereign over creation. The person who cannot forgive how he or she was treated needs to see themselves in the light of Christ's cross and why Jesus died for them reflecting on how they treat God the Father, the giver of their life. (Job 1:21) Knowing God's personal forgiveness makes it possible to forgive the unforgivable people in our lives! Everyone of us needs to put Jesus first and ourselves last. We should be thankful for the life we have as it is God who gives us breath and meets our needs, not our wants. We are commanded to honor our mothers and fathers. We are not called to worship them. No one is perfect. The only one who is good and perfect is our Father in Heaven. (Mark 10:18) So let us keep a proper perspective on Mother's Day by ackowledging our need for repentance and our need for a Savior!