On May 9, 2013

How (Not) To Preach On Mother’s Day

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”- Paul

Honoring Mom

All this week I’ve received emails and Facebook messages from friends and mothers sending me to this blog. It’s a great blog for anyone in ministry to read about the hard side of Mother’s Day.

Over the past few years I’ve learned to just circle the day after Mother’s Day on my calendar as the day that I will get an angry email from someone…I just need to pick who I will get it from.

And I totally understand why.

We often talk about the Bible characters like Sarah or Hannah, and say things like, “to not be able to have a child back in that day was seen as a curse. Back in that day a woman felt like a failure if she didn’t have a child.” And we pretend like that is just a problem people used to have, back in the Old Testament.

Leslie and I first started trying to have children more than a year before we first got pregnant with Eden, and while I know it was just a year, for us it was a tough year. We started quietly wondering if something was wrong with us, or if we would ever be able to have kids.

And for a lot of people in our churches, that doesn’t just last a year.

But Jesus has a word for them this Sunday.

Great With (or Without) Child

There’s a time in the Gospels where Jesus is teaching, and someone just hollers out in the middle of his sermon “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you, and nursed you.” Which is kind of creepy if you think about it.

Right in the middle of Jesus’ sermon, someone hollers out about Jesus’ nursing.

And you might expect Jesus to say something back like, “Yeah! Mom’s Awesome!” But he doesn’t.

Instead, Jesus replies by saying this, “Blessed rather are those who hear God’s Word and obey it.”

Now what Jesus is doing here is huge. He’s actually disagreeing with this person. John Ortberg points out that Jesus is saying that no longer is the highest calling of a woman to bear a child. Being a parent is a noble calling, but it’s not the ultimate one. And if you don’t, or are unable, to have children, you still haven’t missed out on the blessing and presence of God.

And this verse also has a lot to say about those of us who have kids.

Because this Mother’s day (or Father’s day) we’re also not defined by our kids lives…their choices, or how they turn out.

The Blessing of God is for those who hear the word of the LORD and obey. That’s the ultimate calling.

Mother God

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something about God this Mother’s day.

I think most of us know that God transcends gender. He’s not male or female…in fact, there are many times in the Bible that God is described as a Mother…Like when Jesus says that he wishes he could protect Jerusalem like a Mother hen protects her chicks. In fact, one of the titles used for God in the Old Testament (specifically about his mercy) literally means “many breasted one”

Flannel-graph that.

This happens all throughout the Bible. In the book of Job, after Job has lost everything he’s mourning, and rightfully so, he’s questioning God, and rightfully so.

But then God shows up to answer a few of those questions. But the interesting thing is that God doesn’t really answer Job’s question. Instead God points Job toward Creation:

Does the rain have a father? Who fathers the drops of dew? From whose womb comes the ice?
 Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens.

So in the first section of this chapter he uses masculine metaphors to describe God and his creation. And then he switches to feminine metaphors. Like each part of creation shows a different part of what God was like.

As if each gender shows us a different aspect of God.

Last week, I heard Max Lucado talk about Mother’s Day at Pepperdine. He was talking about a family at his church, about a mother who showed the world a glimpse of what God was like.

And then he showed this video about that family. Watch the video before you read on…trust me, it’s worth it.

That’s a glimpse into the heart of God. That’s a Mother that will throw herself under a car to save her kids. She’s the bump.

That’s a Mother.

That’s what God is like.

So whatever place you find yourself in this coming Sunday. Whether it’s joy or sadness, nostalgia or hope…may you not get your identity from what you do or do not have. May the love of God define you and nothing else.

And since, chances are if you are reading this you were born of a woman, we are thankful that God gave you life.

So Happy Mother’s Day.

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  • David U

    Great post, Jonathan!

  • Joe James

    Once Stanley Hauerwas was asked what he would do if he was given full authority over the liturgy of the church, a carte blanche. Without hesitating, he said, “I would make sure you never observed Mother’s Day…” HA! You would expect him to rail on something else, but that was what came to his mind first. As a Hauerwas addict, I have always been intrigued by that comment.

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks Bro. David!

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Wow, gotta love Hauerwas! But you can bet he wouldn’t have kept the job at that church for long.

  • Joe James

    I’m guessing Hauerwas would struggle to stay employed at any church…

  • Andrew Hill
  • JTB

    Thanks for this post. I pondered it all week leading up to Mother’s Day, and it became part of the communion meditation I offered that Sunday. I’ve just now put this on my blog and linked to your post here, so I thought I’d give you a heads up & and a thanks. :)

  • http://stormented.com Jonathan Storment

    Thanks JTB, I don’t know how I missed this comment, but I”m glad I finally saw it. Thanks for sharing that, I feel honored.