Thursday, May 5, 2011

Every Mother's or (Rather Pastor's) Nightmare?

Mother's Day is coming early this year. I guess you could say it is as early as it could possibly be: the 8th.

I'm thankful for my mother. Very thankful for her prayers, her teaching, her love, her wisdom, her patience. I'm thankful for my mother-in-law as well. I'm thankful for my grandmother, who has been a grandmother to both me and my wife. And I'm thankful for those who served as surrogate mothers to me while I served as a single youth director.

While Fathers are supposed to lead at home, mothers have admirably led when the father has abdicated spiritual leadership. Timothy is the product of godly women, of a godly mom and grandmom: 

"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." - II Timothy 1:5

So how do we honor them on Mother's Day? How do we honor them in worship? Can we honor them in worship and keep the focus on Jesus? That's the hard part. It can be a nightmare trying to discern the best way to honor them without cultural capitulation.

In regards to honoring them on Mother's Day, I've canceled Sr. High youth group because some would rather have their children home. But I'm also having Jr. High youth group at our house, because some mothers would rather get a break: that's how Amy and I think.

But in worship, should we do anything special? Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, gives 10 tips for things to do IN and after the worship service. Here are a few of those and my takes.

"1. Have a woman lead worship or help lead worship"-I don't have a problem with women helping lead worship, but how much of what we do in worship should be done so that a certain group feels special?

"6. Dedicate lots of babies. Everyone likes to see babies on Mother's Day." Besides the theological differences in baptists and presbyterians, again, I just think this borders on worship as entertainment.  That's not the point of worship-though I obviously believe it to be a joyous time and my favorite time of the week.

"8. For some women, infertility makes Mother’s Day a tough time. Invite them up after the service to be prayed for, that God would open their wombs." On the front end this sounds good. I mean who doesn't want prayer? But I don't think any women who have tried tirelessly to get pregnant would appreciate being singled out on THIS hard day for them. Perhaps God's design is for them to adopt? If a mother who was trying to get pregnant thought this were a good idea, I'd be OK. But I doubt-and of course this is speculation- it arose from such a person. Driscoll, who has been influential to me as far as big picture stuff goes, may not be doing the best job of putting himself in the shoes of those desiring to be mothers. I could be wrong-but that's my take.

You can read the rest of the list here even though I probably wouldn't recommend any of them.

I'm generally disappointed in evangelicalism's Mother's Day service in two major areas.

1.) Sensitivity to those desiring to be mothers, those mothers who've lost children, who have no mother, etc...I'm not the most sensitive person in the world. I'm growing in sensitivity, as I think we all must grow in this area. I was not aware how hard Mother's Day was for some of the aforementioned until a class in seminary. The professor's wife left town every mother's day, largely in fact that there was such an in-your-face-emphasis at church that Sunday. I don't mind offending people with the gospel, but not this.

2.) Worship is God-centered. When we give rewards for the youngest mother, oldest mother, newest mother, we take the focus off of Jesus. We lift up the created rather than the Creator. I'm not out on a crusade to call other churches out. I just want to explain why some churches refuse to do a blatanly specific "Mother's day" service. It's is NOT because we don't treasure and value mothers. It is because we want all focus to be on Jesus. That's why I won't ever create a Veteran's Day, Father's Day, or Graduation day service.

What should we do? I don't know what we should do, but here are some ideas that we'll do at Redeemer.

1.) Children's Church Mother's day lesson

2.) Toddler Nursery craft for mothers.

3.) Pastoral prayer thanking mothers and spiritual mothers. Several women at Redeemer have no children, but have been a spiritual mother to Connar and Cade, and I'm SO thankful for them. They are a gift from our Heavenly Father.

Just my thoughts on how to apply Mother's Day at church. 

The real question is can we honor, thank, recognize a group of people before God IN worship without drawing attention away from Him. That's a hard one to answer, and I realize I may not be as consistent as I'd like to be with my vision. Honoring them after the service is much easier.


Jeremy Bias said...

Love it, love it, love it. I totally agree with your premise, not just regarding Mother's Day, but other holidays as well (maybe especially other holidays). I do not feel the Sabbath gathering of God's people should be circumvented so we can celebrate 4th of July, President's Day, Veteran's Day, Father's Day, etc. I believe its appropriate to acknowledge it, or include it in a prayer, or mention it on the bulletin, but not let it take over the entirity of the service. Great post.

Geoffsnook said...

Thank you Jeremy. I'm partial to Earth Day and Ground Hog's Day and Arbor Day myself. Those are the hardest ones for me not to want to create a "themed" worship service around!

We were thinking about Josh Grobin's "You raise me up,"this Sunday, with some interpretive dance, but then realized how bad it backfired on Rich Rod....JK.

Thanks for your added thoughts bro.