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  • Susan Cartmell

The Mother's Day Challenge

Mother’s Day - What to do?

Often Mother’s Day is a big worship Sunday in many churches. Some churches have special Mother’s Day traditions. Some churches give flowers to the mothers in the pews. Others have special prayers or litanies or rituals.



Even if you serve a church with strong Mother’s Day traditions it is hard to know what tone to set. If we honor all the mothers are we making the day harder for people who have no partner or spouse, for couples who decided not to have children, or people who struggle with fertility issues. Does the church unwittingly injure people who were adopted or don’t know their parents? There are challenges to the tone you set on Mother’s Day.



Our audience is diverse on Mothers Day and

we need to think of everyone.





At one of the churches I served we had a group of children who came to Sunday School with their caregivers. They were living on the campus of a facility in our town for kids with emotional issues. Many had been abused and taken from their homes and they missed their parents. So the school came to talk to me about the message I was planning for the Children's Sermon on Mother's Day. The Administrator ueged me to be sensitive to how loaded Mother’s Day was for many of these children. It was a good reminder. They were beginning to trust me during the Children’s Sermons. I certainly did not want to confuse them or hurt them, because I knew that they had been through alot.


Years ago I knew a minister who prided himself on NEVER preaching a Mother’s Day sermon. I knew why he felt so strongly. To him, Mother’s Day seemed like a made-up holiday, promoted by the card and flower industry. He wanted no part of it, and studiously avoided using his pulpit to push what he believed was a commercial agenda.

For a while this man’s logic seemed persuasive. But as I listened and observed several congregations I realized that people came to worship on Mother's Day with many different expectations. They all came with some expectations. Not to say anything about the holiday was a real cop out.


Just because Mother’s Day is a hard holiday for some people, a tedious one for others and a lovely one for many, we cannot ignore it. We cannot forget to mention it.

I believe the Church is at its best when we address confusing issue with fresh insight.


More and more when I preach I try to talk about the things I believe in on Mother’s Day.

I believe that many people mother us. Our biological parents have a huge influence on most of us growing up. Like ducklings, we are patterned with their influence and imprint. For moth of us that is a wonderful gift.

Many people have also “mothered” us along the journey - teachers, coaches, mentors, aunts, bosses, lovers, maids. God has sent us each a whole slew of caregivers to shepherd us along life’s path. Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate all the people - men and women - who nurtured us and give thanks.

Try a reading from the book “The Blessings of a Skinned Knee” by Wendy Mogel. She is a sage voice on parenting and people enjoy her wisdom.



Here are a few sermon ideas:


The Wedding at Cana: It might sound like an unusual choice, but I think the story demonstrates how much Mary believed in Jesus, and how much she saw his potential. Mothers often see who we are and see where we are headed, even before we do.

Psalm 23: Preach a sermon about the way that God watches over us in every season and stage of life. Talk about this psalm describes how mature love makes us thrive - Surely goodness and mercy will follow me…

I Corinthians 13: Don’t leave this passage for weddings only. Try it on Mother’s Day. It may help us to remember what mature love looks like, and even inspire mothers to more mature love. Paul certainly raises the bar here.

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Pilgrim Congregational Church, 533 MA-28 Harwich Port MA