Recently, I heard a pastor say that a Mother’s Day sermon was the hardest one for him to preach. Then he explained why.
First, he said he realized that many in his congregation were men, and therefore, would not ever be mothers, and he wanted his sermon to be applicable to all of his congregation. That is a great point.
Second, the pastor said that he recognized that many women in the congregation were unmarried and still were honoring the Lord in their lives even if they were not mothers. That is another great point.
Third, the pastor mentioned that some married women were not mothers for a variety of reasons, and that some women may experience grief for not having children. He said he realized that women are sensitive and he indicated that he wanted to be careful not to add to anyone’s pain. That’s another wonderful point.
Those are all excellent observations. However, I think there’s a more important reason a pastor (and other church leaders) should seriously reconsider their tradition of celebrating a secular holiday as part of Sunday morning services. The Scripture teaches that the purpose of the church is to evangelize the lost and equip the saved to worship the Lord. In other words, the main reason believers participate in the life of the church is to grow in their sanctification as they more frequently choose to obey Scripture rather than choose their own sinful desires. Whenever the church loses focus on helping believers to mature in their walk with the Lord, stagnation is at hand, and those church leaders have abdicated their responsibility as shepherds who will give an account for the souls of the people they are leading and guiding.
Whenever church leaders choose to celebrate a secular holiday on Sunday, they are demonstrating that the American culture has influenced the church. The reverse should be true: the church should be salt and light in the culture. Sadly, this is only one example that I’ve observed as I’ve watched the American culture creep into the church.
In my experience, the most striking example of the culture influencing the church is the elevation of entertainment throughout the entire morning service. In some churches, the desire to lead the congregation in laughter during announcements, throughout the sermon, and before the collection of the offering takes precedence over the desire to lead the congregation in revering and worshipping the Almighty. Or, those leading the music behave as if they were rock stars performing at a live concert.
Back to the specific question of church leaders celebrating Mother’s Day at church, I wonder how often the leaders consider what message they are sending to the rest of the congregation who are not mothers? If a church devotes an entire Sunday morning to addressing mothers, how is the church fulfilling its obligation to minister to all the believers in the congregation that morning? Some ladies who wanted to be mothers are not moms due to circumstances beyond their control. Is it reasonable to expect such women to return to church next year if they learned this year that the entire service was focused on how to be a better mother?
I used to think that only women might be hurt by Mother’s Day celebrations at church, but recently, a gentleman mentioned to me that he had skipped church on Father’s Day some years because he had felt inferior at church for not being a father. I hadn’t realized that men could be hurt, too, by how church leaders allow the secular culture to dictate the agenda for Sunday morning worship.
Honoring our parents is good and right. There is nothing wrong with celebrating Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. However, on Sunday morning at church, nothing should preempt the preaching of the Word for the edification of the entire congregation. Anything that distracts from that should be avoided.
I think that fathers should lead their children to honor their mothers in their family setting and mothers should lead in honoring the father in the family. I don’t think it’s the role of the church leaders to set aside valuable time for edifying the entire congregation on Sunday morning in order to do something the parents should be doing in their homes.
If a pastor feels absolutely compelled to preach something about mothers on the second Sunday of May, perhaps he should draw the congregation’s attention to the example of the Proverbs 31 Wife’s Children in verse 28. If the pastor spoke to the offspring in the congregation, he would be addressing 100% of his audience since everyone has a mom. Even if a person’s mom has passed away, a person can thank God for the one who gave him life and praise God for the one who shared Christ with him. If a person’s mom did not lead an exemplary life, a person could still thank God that He graciously protected him even in the midst of the trials he endured at the hand of his mom. And we can all recognize that others have influenced us as well and we can bless them for their impact in our lives. A sermon directed to children (whatever our ages) will include the entire congregation since we are all someone’s child.
With that as food for thought, let me share a recipe that Brody and I enjoyed on another day we like to celebrate in May… Cinco de Mayo!!!! We really enjoy Mexican food, so one day, I decided to imitate a green sauce we really liked. Friends of ours had drawn our attention to it, and while it was gluten-free, it still had other ingredients Brody prefers to avoid, so I developed my own Brody-safe version.
Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce
10 tomatillos without the paper-thin skins, washed, and cut into quarters
1 jalapeno pepper, without the stem, and washed
roughly ½ cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp crushed dried red peppers if you want more heat
1. Add all the ingredients to your Vitamix or other blender and process them until well-blended.
2. Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the sauce is the thickness you like.
3. The sauce can be used to cook chicken or simply to add flavor to a Mexican chicken dish.
Sometimes we cook the chicken in the sauce….
But I like the taste of the sauce better when we simply pour it over cooked chicken in our Mexican concoction:
To simplify our meal preparation, we usually maintain a supply of cooked rice, beans and chicken in the fridge and then flavor them in different ways throughout the week.
One of the yummy ways we combine the chicken, beans and rice is to rewarm the ingredients and then:
1. Spread a thin layer of cooked rice on a plate.
2. Add some black beans.
3. Add some cooked chicken and the Cinco de Mayo Green Sauce.
4. Sprinkle on some cheese.
5. Add some Taco Sauce (page 159 from A Recipe for Survival) or Sister’s Salsa (page 155 from A Recipe for Survival.)
6. Add some fresh, chopped cilantro and lettuce, along with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
7. Sometimes, we include a batch of chips, made from the Tortilla recipe on page 115 of A Recipe for Survival.