Maternity and the Gospel: A Word to Churches on Mother’s Day

Motherhood is a role worthy of celebration. Churches will be full of families and corsages this Sunday as our country observes Mother’s Day. Many churches have traditions for honoring moms: passing out a “mom” book, having them stand and often a sermon from Proverbs 31, highlighting a famous wife and mother from Scripture. We are reminded to thank God for our mothers, their sacrifices, homemade cookies and godly influence. I would offer churches an insight for this day: as you celebrate, consider the broken, failing and empty.

Not everyone grew up with the mother of Proverbs 31. Gone are the days of assuming everyone in your church and on your block had a kind and loving mother who took them to church, nursed their scrapes and faithfully attended to her home and family. We have moms who are (or were) absent, apathetic, abusive and adulterous. As great as it would be for everyone to have glowing memories of their mothers, many do not. Worse, some do not understand and haven’t come to terms with why their childhood (and maybe adulthood) does not contain this angelic creature who embraced to the fullest her God-given role as a mom. Please consider the broken.

Also consider the failing. Mother’s Day can be a harsh reminder to many that things in their family are not good. Their children are wayward, in trouble or stagnate. Some haven’t heard from their children in years; some have, but what they’ve heard is hateful and heartbreaking. Moms lament over their mistakes and see no hope for the future. Others are reminded of a dark past that included abortion. Whether Christian or not, many who have aborted a baby struggle with guilt and mourn the death of their little one on Mother’s Day. This day stirs not only joy but grief also. Consider the failing.

Lastly, consider the empty. The pews will be filled with women who are infertile, have miscarried or who have buried one of their children. There are not enough cards to compensate for the feeling of emptiness some experience on this day. They will be sitting next to big families, new babies and could feel awkwardly out of place. They will smile and pretend to be happy when the oldest mom, newest mom and mom with the most children stand while the congregation applauds them. While for many this day means a nice dinner out, it is an aching reminder to others that they are not moms or have lost children. Think about the empty.

This Sunday will not be a Hallmark commercial for many, but there is great potential for healing and hope.  No matter if your church is in the city, suburb or pasture, these women will be sitting in your pews. We have the weighty task this Mother’s Day of giving them the greatest hope which is Christ. I pray that this Sunday, you will make much of Jesus and no one else.


(image credit)


One thought on “Maternity and the Gospel: A Word to Churches on Mother’s Day

  1. Emily,
    Thank you for this…. Mother’s Day used to be the most horrible day of the year for me and I always felt so alone in my pain. It was awful to sit in a pew with a smile painted on my face while fertile women all around me wrangled their little ones. As much as I wanted to be happy for them, there was always this tinge of jealousy and self-consciousness. Praise God for bringing Emma into our lives through adoption. I may never know the hope and joy of carrying a small life within my body, but I thank God that he gave me a chance to be a mother in another way. I’m wondering if this Mother’s Day is still going to bring that self-consciousness out… but I’m pretty sure the jealousy will be gone this time.
    Thanks again for writing this… It’s just nice to hear someone who understands.

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