This Sunday is Mother’s Day, the ultimate bonanza for greeting card companies, florists, chocolatiers, and nail salons. I hope your creative plans to honor the moms in your life are well underway today. If not, consider this a public service announcement to get you moving.
One thing we all have in common is that we all have a mother. Hopefully, you think your mom is terrific in every way.
I feel that way about my wife, the mother of our two adult children, my daughter, the mother of my two perfect grandkids, my mother-in-law, and my mom, who is celebrating her third Mother’s Day in heaven. All of her eight kids miss her!
I hope you get to spend some time with your mom and the other mothers in your circle of relationships this weekend. If your mom is in heaven, as mine is, I suggest you take some time to reflect on her influence and to thank God for the blessings he brought into your life through your mom. I agree with the country artist Luke Bryan who sings, “Most mamas ought to qualify for sainthood.”
Give thanks for the moms
We all have a mom, but there are no perfect moms, as hard as most try mightily.
Sadly, some moms fail at motherhood through abandonment, ignorance, anger, and other reasons. You may not have the mother you wish you had, just the mom you do have.
However, in these days when our Supreme Court and culture are wrangling over the sanctity of life, we need to stop and praise God for it and for the moms and dads he uses to bring life into being. No matter how well our moms and dads did their job as parents, they were still the means by which God gave us life.
Include all mothers
This Sunday, you’ll likely say something, or a great deal, about moms. Some will make moms the focus of the whole sermon. (Sometimes I would preach my Father’s Day sermon on Mother’s Day because I knew more of the dads would be there!)
Whether God leads you to speak a word of encouragement, of challenge, or both to moms, be as inclusive as you can.
For many years, my wife taught the only “Ladies Only” small group in our church. It was ladies only because these women, most of whom were moms, were single due to divorce, a few never married, and others were “spiritually single” because their husbands were not spiritually engaged with them.
These ladies felt safe and loved by my wife and each other. As she served this group, my wife often reminded me to see things from their perspective. If I was preaching about marriage and family, she urged me to recognize their presence in the room. When it was Mother’s Day, she prompted me to acknowledge those whose kids or spouses might not be present, those whose moms had died, and especially those who desperately wanted to be mothers but who had not been given that blessing.
Later, I even learned to speak a word of grace to those who might have experienced an abortion. These women are in our churches and are often carrying tremendous burdens from their past. Usually, several of these ladies would thank me afterward because they felt noticed and cared for. In these ways, it’s good to acknowledge both the blessing and brokenness of our lives. Everyone in the room knows both because we all live both. There is no value in the preacher pretending otherwise, even as he points to God’s best ideals.
Ministry as mothering
Ministry is a lot like parenting. Every metaphor has its limits, but remember what God inspired the Apostle Paul to say to the Thessalonians.
In what may be his very first letter to a young group of believers, he described his love and care for them.
As you prepare for this weekend, read these twelve verses and ask the Holy Spirit to equip you in one or two ways to serve others with the same tender care that God shows us through our moms.
You yourselves know, dear brothers and sisters, that our visit to you was not a failure. You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.
For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.
As apostles of Christ we certainly had a right to make some demands of you, but instead we were like children among you. Or we were like a mother feeding and caring for her own children. We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.
Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you. You yourselves are our witnesses—and so is God—that we were devout and honest and faultless toward all of you believers. And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For he called you to share in his Kingdom and glory.
—1 Thessalonians 2:1–12 NLT, emphasis added