Mothers' Day: To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate? That is the Question

(picture originally uploaded to Flickr by Luodanli)

For the April edition of CM Edge, one of the topics we talked about was Mothers’ Day. Between the conversation on that episode and what I had read prior to recording the podcast, I was surprised to find out that a number of churches choose not to do anything for Mother’s Day.

The reasons for not celebrating/recognizing Mothers’ Day at church mostly revolved around sensitivity: sensitivity to those who aren’t mothers, sensitivity to those who can’t have children, sensitivity to those whose mothers have died, sensitivity to those whose mothers abandoned them, sensitivity to those who don’t fit the “typical” mother stereotype…

While I understand the need for sensitivity, I think we may have swung the pendulum too far. Maybe it’s just me, but I think celebrating is a good thing. Celebrating motherhood (and fatherhood for that matter) is a good thing. Being a mom is a hard job, and I think moms deserve to be celebrated.

Now, I can hear the objections. Mothers’ Day in churches have been known to be hokey and very narrow-minded and thus hurtful to those who don’t fit the picture-perfect model of a stay-at-home mom with 2 kids. Does this mean, though, that the alternative is to do nothing? I think we owe it to ALL mothers and would-be mothers and will-be mothers to use our God-given creativity to come up with a way to honor them without being exclusive.

The past two years, I had been in charge of the services on Mothers’ Day weekend. For both years, we put together production-like services as a gift to the mothers. We also took the time to help deconstruct the stereotypical mom and reconstruct a view that motherhood has a lot of faces. We helped people see that there are working moms, single moms, grandmothers as moms of their grandchildren, adoptive moms, moms who lose their temper, moms who are overprotective, moms who are lonely, and moms who don’t have it all together. We also took the time to recognize that Mothers’ Day is a painful day for some because of abandonment, loss and unfulfillment.

I challenge the thought that the best alternative to a hokey Mothers’ Day at church that casues pain or boredom on some is to simply forego any kind of celebration. We need to be more creative than that. We need to celebrate motherhood while helping expand people’s understanding of motherhood and reaching out to those who experience pain when thinking about motherhood. It can be done. It just takes effort. It doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be something.

Is your church doing something for Mothers’ Day? If so, what do you do? If not, why?

What are your thoughts on the challenge that foregoing Mothers’ Day at churches to avoid people getting hurt or feeling left out is a lack of creativity?


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17 thoughts on “Mothers' Day: To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate? That is the Question

  1. I like the idea of what you did last year.
    I imagine that it would be really hard to sit through a mothers day celebration when you're not able to be a mum for what ever reason. But I think that it's possible to have a mothers day service where all women walk away feeling esteemed.
    For one, everyone has a mother and everyone knows someone who is a mother. Regardless of personal circumstances I think it's appropriate to celebrate them.
    Second, I don't think that you need to have your own children to be a mother figure in other peoples lives. Women have special God given gifts and abilities. They can love on people in a motherly way.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      Thanks for the thoughts, Sarah. Yes, Mothers' Day can be a way to honor all women as well as encouraging all women to be speaking into the lives of people around them.

  2. We've all had a mother, right? Even if our mother is a terrible beast (which mine wasn't), we know that good mothers are important.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      Ha! Yes moms are important… As for moms who might be terrible beasts… no comment 🙂 On the serious side of that, though, there is another area to recognize al well and be a comfort to those who may have gone through situations like that.

  3. KathySch says:

    This year there will be several mother's who have been on missions trips in the past year that will tell stories of how "ordinary mother's are following an extraordinary God". Every year it's different. Last year one of our assoc. pastor's mother's was dying of cancer. She was known by many in our church. He was able to speak with passion about mothers and their impact and influence in our lives. (he brought her to Christ when he was a teen)

    We also celebrate Father's Day, again different every year. This usually coincides with graduation and is a great launching pad for influence, etc.

  4. Desiree says:

    I agree. If we are too sensitive, we end up being and doing nothing! And what fun is that? Besides, if we care anything about aborted babies, we will encourage motherhood. It is a hard job, and so much love, caring, and understanding for each other comes from the PAIN. If we want to confront culture, then we must confront pain. Pain is necessary because it produces change. The church also needs mothers! And so does CM, since that is who does most of the work!

    But coming off my soap box… As a women who struggles with finding my role in a "man's world", I need encouragement. And honestly, I would feel a little slighted if mother's weren't recognized in some (even a small) way. Parenthood is so important. I think it is good to be creative and honestly I was a little jealous of your Mother's day last year… but that's okay ;-). I will patiently wait, and hold out hope (like a mother does) that things will get better. It sounded so grand though!

  5. Desiree says:

    And another thing to remember, just like Easter, Mother's day is a day where people may come to church that normally don't (for their mothers 🙂 ). We gotta make it special!

  6. Steve says:

    There is another take on the idea of celebrating Mother's Day as part of your worship service. The reason that many churches that I am familiar with do not offer a special program has little to do with being sensitive to those who are not moms. Instead, their view is that it is the Lord's Day before it is Mother's Day. We gather together to lift up Jesus not our moms. There is an appropriate time and place to honor moms (and dads), but the worship service is not it. Honestly, I am not sure where I stand on the issue. I see both sides, but I lean toward keeping the focus on Christ during worship.

    • Henry Zonio says:

      I see where you are coming from, but I don't think the two have to be mutually exclusive. I hope would hope that Christ would be honored as we honor moms.

  7. Jenaette Newman says:

    Our church celebrated Mother's Day. Every woman and girl received a carnation. We believe that every woman is a mother. If not to a child, then to a pet, to their husband, etc. Women are very caring and deserve to be recognized. The girls received a carnation because we said they are the future mothers. Everyone, including those who never had children thought this was wonderful.

  8. Virginia says:

    Last year for mother's day we had a special area in the auditorium with lotions, sprays, chocolate and juice after the service. We invited all women to go (& explained it like many did above – not just women with kids) and enjoy as dads, uncles, brothers went to get the kids. It went over really well. We try to do something different every year. It was something inexpensive, yet stood out to them.

  9. Karl Bastian says:

    I agree! Ignoring Mother’s Day, doesn’t change the fact that it is, its actually kinda wimpy. I don’t think the sermon has to be on mothers every year – I think some years the pastor can continue with his series, but the pain is there anyway (for those with pain, I for one miss my mom, and for 15 years my wife wasnt a mom, and now is just an adoptive mom, so perhaps there is some lingering longing, tho I wont speak for her) Better to honor the moms present for their hard work!, and acknowlege the heart aches that exist with some loving words and prayer… that goes a lot farther than ignoring the moms present AND ignoring hurts still present. As I said, thats just wimpy pastors in my opinion afraid to minister to both.

    • henryjz says:

      Thanks for those comments, Karl. It does take work, but I think we can still celebrate motherhood AND be sensitive to those who experience some level of pain at Mother’s Day.

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