My first preaching professor taught us that Mother’s Day is not a Christian holiday but a conspiracy of the greeting card companies. He insisted that we should never preach a Mother’s Day sermon.
The first few years I was a pastor, I took his advice. On Mother’s Day I followed the lectionary and preached on the assigned text for the day. If I were following this pattern now, here are the suggested texts for May 12, 2013. You can see what a stretch it would be to connect Mother’s Day with any of these suggested passages.
As a young preacher, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was swimming against the current. The 2nd Sunday in May would find me talking about Paul and Silas’ famous jailbreak while everyone’s mind was on mothers.
Year after year I found myself wanting to explain: “But my preaching professor said….”
Greg Sutton tried to help me out a decade ago. Greg was a botanist by trade who worked for the Commonwealth of Virginia most of his life traveling all over South America promoting agricultural trade. Greg and Liz were longtime Northminster members, deeply spiritual people, and a childless couple. Greg had painful memories of past Mother’s Days in church that had left his wife feeling discouraged.
One afternoon as we sat on his back porch, Greg shared his idea for how a preacher should handle Mother’s Day.
“Every living thing has a belly button,” he informed me.
While I flipped through my mental file cards of living things to decide if he was right, he elaborated, “Humans, horses, vegetables, fruits. They all have a navel.”
When I protested that a stem wasn’t exactly a navel, he explained that they serve the same purpose. “Every living thing begins life connected to a mother,” he explained. “So there’s your Mother’s Day sermon. The day shouldn’t really be a celebration of the oldest mother or youngest mother or the mother with the most children. The day should be about everybody who has or had a mother and what our mothers gave us. And you might even want to mention the Great Divine Mother to whom we are all connected,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
I admit that I’m a slow learner. But this year, I’m going to try Greg Sutton’s approach.
I plan to preach a Mother’s Day message aimed at everyone who has or had a mother. We’re going to look at 5 scenes from the life of Jesus’ mother to see what she taught him. And what she is teaching us.
You can check out how I did HERE .