My mother’s day children’s sermon was more of a bust than my children’s sermons normally are. I generally don’t preach on Mother’s Day. I attend a conference every year the week before, and I have historically gotten someone else to preach for me that day. But I’m going to be gone three different Sundays during the summer, so I thought I should fill my own pulpit post-conference this year.
My mind must have been back in the day when Mother’s Day meant that all the moms showed up with their kids in tow to celebrate their special day (and show off their adorable offspring). I spent quite a bit of time coming up with (what I thought) was a hilarious (yet meaningful) children’s message that required a number of young children to pull off. So of course, we had one kid in attendance. I pivoted to a less than lackluster message of why-we-appreciate-our-moms.
No doubt some of our moms were visiting their own moms or had a sick kid or were sick themselves. But the truth is that today’s moms would much rather sleep in and rest to celebrate their special day than gather the kids up, get them dressed and out the door to church. And who can blame them? Certainly not me.
Maybe the better ministry to mom on Mother’s Day would be to send scripture, message, prayer and song to them and have the kids lead worship while mom is still in her pajamas, full from the breakfast they have made and drinking her second cup of coffee.
It is what I believe to be the most daunting challenge of the church today. How do we build a community in Christ with people for whom showing up on Sunday morning is a challenge and a chore? For moms (and dads) who spend the week juggling work and school schedules and ball games and rehearsals and children who insist on being fed every day, is it any surprise that many may choose to chill rather than to church on Sunday morning?
And we can talk about the old days when “good faithful people” made church a priority all we want, but those were also the days before traveling teams for nine-year-olds or dance competitions on Sundays. They were also the days when we falsely equated church attendance with faithfulness.
So, how do we help parents of faith raise their children in the faith when gathering as a faith community isn’t always an option? My congregation knows that I have a bad habit of asking questions I don’t have the answers to (I would make a lousy lawyer), and I don’t have the answer to this one either… but I’m working on it, and would welcome ideas, input and suggestions.