There are two sermons Pastors can give each year that pretty much write themselves. They come on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
The first of these sermons go like this.
Mom’s are kind and generous and self sacrificing. They are the first person to teach you what love is. Let’s take a look at Hannah . . .
I refuse to give that sermon. Because, while not always a lie, it isn’t true.
I’ve sat up all night with kids whose mother beat them with a broom stick after the umbrella she had been using broke.
Now apply that easy Mother’s Day sermons to these kids lives. Is that what love is?
The thing working with families will teach you is that people are bad and families are broken and any sermon saying anything short of that will ring false to anyone in the congregation who has been in a family (that’s everyone).
Here’s what is going on (as best as I can tell). Back in the time of the Bible, women were judged by their ability to have children, preferably males (look at Sarai or Hannah as examples of this).
We love to think we’ve gotten past this, but we really haven’t. Women in our culture are still primarily valued because they can make babies. We elevate women who had babies (which probably doesn’t feel good for women who haven’t) and ignore what abusive parents teach us, that maybe having a kid doesn’t make you a good person.
Family is sacred in our world and foremost the mother.
But one time when Jesus was teaching somebody told him that his family was outside and wanted to speak to him. Which is rude. I wouldn’t be too pleased if someone interrupted my sermon because my brother wanted to ask me a question.
Jesus answers him by asking
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
Another time when he was teaching somebody yelled out “Blessed is the womb which bore you and the breasts at which you nursed!”
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
He handled that better than I would (as in he didn’t blush and lose all composure as he collapsed in a giggling fit).
So twice Jesus has dismissed his family for those who hear the word/will of God and keep/ do it.
And, it should go without saying, that Jesus’ mom was better than yours. I, love my mom, but I’m not the messiah and none of my brothers are either. Mary is the only woman to ever have that honor.
“Let it be with me as you have spoken” she said at the news that she, a virgin would conceive.
Jesus knew that when he responded to his interrupters. “My mother is not blessed because she gave birth or because she made milk. She is blessed because she heard the impossible will of God and followed through.”
You don’t have to be a mother to do that. You can do that as a child, father, husband, single woman, single man, employee, boss.
I didn’t say that well, Paul nailed it
for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
On Mother’s Day the question isn’t “have you had a child?” The question is “are you in Christ and now God’s child?”
God is a parent who doesn’t abuse, neglect, or ignore his children. He is a parent we celebrate every Sunday. Even Mother’s Day.