Mother's Day sermon ideas

Typically celebrated in the Spring, Mother's Day is a secular holiday centered on gratitude to mothers.

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What does the Bible say about mothers?

  • Exodus 20:12, the command to honor our father and mother
  • Proverbs 1:8-9, children should not reject the teaching of their mothers
  • Proverbs 6:20-22, do not forsake your mother's teaching
  • Proverbs 23:22-25, do not despise your mother when she is old
  • Proverbs 31:26-28, a proverbs 31 woman
  • Isaiah 49:15, God will not forget us like a women cannot forget the nursing baby
  • Isaiah 66:13, "As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem"
  • Luke 1:26-35, the angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will bear God's son
  • Luke 13:34, God described as a mother hen who wishes to gather Jerusalem under her wings
  • John 19:25-27, Jesus says to the disciple that he loves, "here is your mother" when referring to Mary, his mother
  • Ephesians 6:1-3, honor your father and mother so that you may live long on the earth

Sermon ideas for Mother's Day

The roots of Mother's Day in the United States lie within nineteenth-century abolitionism and temperance movements. The holiday was formally established in 1908 by a woman named Anna Reeves Jarvis, who wanted to honor the sacrifices of her own mother. Her idea gathered enthusiasts. In 1914 Woodrow Wilson named the second Sunday of May as the nation's official Mother's Day. Predictably, it didn't take long for greeting card companies, florists, candy makers, and others to capitalize.

In the U.S. there are more phone calls on Mother's Day than on any other day of the year. Christian preachers may be understandably wary of a highly commercial holiday, but probably can't avoid at least a nod to it. On May 11, 2008, John Buchanan, then pastor of Chicago's Fourth Presbyterian Church, faced a preacher's challenge: Pentecost was on the same Sunday as Mother's Day. Buchanan wanted to preach Pentecost. But it was also Mother's Day and, said Buchanan, "no preacher with any sense at all would risk ignoring it. Every year someone calls and says, `I'm bringing mother to church Sunday, so make it good. And she doesn't want to hear about gun control.'"

But where would Buchanan look for Mother's Day illustrations that were not sentimental or already on Mother's Day cards — or both? He looked within the vast emotional resources of Garrison Keillor. It happened that Keillor had written an op-ed for the Chicago Tribune earlier in the week titled "Nobody Loves You Like Your Mama Does": "She loves you," Keillor wrote. "You could come home with snakes tattooed on your face and she would still see the good in you. She knows when you're in trouble. And you will get into deep trouble someday. Count on it. But your mother will still love you. Like an old lioness, she'll come running, even if you're 2,000 miles away."

In one of the stellar American novels, John Steinbeck wrote of Ma Joad, a depression-era mother of a family ousted from their farm and migrating to the great central valley of California. She tries everything she can think of to care for her brood and keep it together. At one point, Steinbeck tells us of her strength: "Her hazel eyes seemed to have experienced all possible tragedy and to have mounted pain and suffering like steps into a high calm and a superhuman understanding. She seemed to know, to accept, to welcome her position, the citadel of the family, the strong place that could not be taken." (The Grapes of Wrath: John Steinbeck Centennial Edition (Penguin, 2002), p. 74.)

Some congregants have struggled with difficult mothers Pastorally adept preachers will be mindful on Mother's Day that some congregants have struggled with difficult mothers and approach the holiday with resentment or guilt or other complex emotions. Still others have been trying and failing to become mothers and feel bereft on the second Sunday of May.

Mothers have lifelong impact. War literature is full of stories of dying infantrymen crying out for their mothers. St. Augustine credited his mother, Monica, for his conversion to Christianity. In his farewell speech — perhaps "the most raw, acutely painful, and unforgettable speech in American political history" — a disgraced and resigned President Richard Nixon told the world of his mother, Hannah, who had nursed two of her boys dying of tuberculosis. Nixon twice named her "a saint." (John Farrell, Richard Nixon: The Life (Doubleday, 2017), p. 531.)

Of course the most famous mother in the world is Jesus's mother, Mary. This is initially surprising. Mary is so unlikely a major role player that the news of her destiny is bewildering even to her. Mary is like Israel, or like the barren Hannah, or like the aged Sarah. She has nothing to recommend her as the choice of God's electing grace. The gospels give us no reason to think she's pedigreed or accomplished. Of such other Lukan characters in the birth narratives as Zechariah and Elizabeth, Simeon and Anna, we are told up front that they are righteous, blameless, devout, prophetic. All we know of Mary is her name, her town, and her betrothed.

And yet she carries the Savior of the world in her womb — a signature role of which Protestants have typically made too little.

Worship ideas for Mother's Day

"Nurturing God, we give thanks for those who enrich our lives by their presence, who teach us about your abundant love, who encourage us to journey in faith." Prayer by Patty Lawrence from re:Worship

"Recognizing that some in our congregation yearned to be mothers but hadn't been able to have children, I prayed for them. I also added prayers for mothers who grieved the loss of their children, for mother-child relationships that were strained, and for those whose mothers had gone to be with the Lord." Scripture Meditation or Sermon by Mark D. Roberts from Theology of Work

"In the African American church tradition, Mother's Day is a day to give thanks to God for those who have mothered us in the faith. On this Sunday, we recognize that motherhood is not limited to biological association, nor is motherhood restricted to a woman's fertility or marital status." Sermon Preparation or Illustration by Eustacia Moffett Marshall from The African American Lectionary

"Thank you, Mom, for all you've said, for praying with me when I go to bed. Thank you for showing me God's love too, I know that He is so proud of you!" Poetry by Mimi Patrick from Ministry to Children

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