So glad I don’t preach Mother’s Day

So, tomorrow is Mother’s Day. And I’m glad I’m not preaching. It’s an impossible gig. I’m really glad I’m not preaching.

  • You need to talk about Mother’s Day, as if it were traditional for churches and not a civil and cultural observance, so lacking many of the liturgical hooks that makes worship manageable.
  • You need to show how important motherhood is, particularly for those who have dedicated large parts of their lives to it, without minimizing those who did not or could not have children, or suggesting that this is the main end of womanhood.
  • You need to extol maternal love, but also recognize that some mothers are or were hurtful, abusive, or otherwise harmful.
  • You need to acknowledge the deathlessness of the love that often did exist without hurting those still mourning their mothers.
  • You may need to talk about the fact that we are all someone’s child, without harming those who lost their children.
  • You may recognize that some people grow up with no mother, but perhaps not without one or more fathers, at the risk of making motherhood a vague concept.
  • You can point out that Mother’s Day began as a peace action, but not without addressing the other points.
  • And you need to balance all these conflicts, and pray that this careful act isn’t undercut by some well meaning custom, like rose corsages. A custom that may be very well-loved by some.

So good luck, preachers.

And remember: Father’s Day is only a month away.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. I never preach a Mother’s Day sermon anymore. The day is too fraught with baggage. And I am haunted by the friends of mine who find it one of the most pain filled days of the year…

    (1) because one friend wanted to be a mother and could not

    (2) because another friend is a mother, but lives totally alienated from her abusive adult son

    (3) because another friend spent his childhood caring for his chronically ill mother, and as an adult resents the way he had been groomed to (as he put it) “be another person’s emotional and physical slave”

    I just can not step into the mine-field anymore. And darn it, I no longer care if people dislike me for staying clear of Mother’s Day sermons.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. If I had become a minister, I would have had to find some way of exempting myself from mother’s day and father’s day, which might not have been very easy.

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