Sunday, May 10, 2009

preaching on Mother's day-Quiet Strength

Preaching on Mother’s day can be a dangerous exercise. On other days you might be forgiven to make a mistake here and there- not on Mother’s day. Therefore I am treading on eggs and would hope and pray for understandning. My only plea is that I love my mother and my wife, who has been a inspirational(and strict )mother for our two daughters.

Why is it in our churches, that Mother’s Day is so popular? Why, in some cases it is more popular then any other day on the church’s calendar. (and we don’t even serve communion on Mother's day!). That is however not the question I want to deal with today. I want to rather make the statement that motherhood in itself, is not a virtue. Let me put it another way- there is nothing redemptive about giving birth to a child. Hence, we should not confuse motherhood with being virtuous in itself.

Mothers can also be cruel.The story we read, in 1 Sam 1, out of the history of the Ancient Near East, is story of cruelty, but also a story of hope. But also, it’s a story where, the religion of the day, sanctify this violence. I’m not going to dwell on the issue of the polygamy and the fact that only the men were allowed to marry two of more wives. With our new president inaugurated, we need to, as a Christian community seriously engage on the gender issues behind a culture where only men are allowed to have more then one wife. If that is right, then surely it cannot only be right for men. If its ethically wrong, then we need to say it. But this is not the point of today, mother's day.

Whilst, in the Biblical context, this is a story about Samuel, this is also a story of mothers, Peninah and (mother-to be) Hannah. Peninah is some-one who experienced the love care of her husband. She had children, but she remained a deeply flawed mother, a cruel mother, who used ridicule and humiliation to violate the Other. The story does not say much about her own background or the circumstances around her marriage, except the fact that this was a deeply religious family. The husband maintained the religious commitments and adhered to the doctrines of the day.
What could have been the seedbed for Pininah’s power: was it the fact that she was a mother and the other not, was it beauty, was it Hannah’s childless-ness? All these answers could be correct, but it was not…. The real reason is because her religion otherfied, the child-less. In two occasions the writer states, “The Lord kept Hannah child-less.” She was cursed, nothing, some-one to be despised- she could yield to the dominant view that she was the reason for this curse upon her- even the religious leader looked down upon her practices of devotion.

The key question is, what was her response,this is the kind of turn-around in this story:
•She kept on praying- speaking out to the Lord, refusing to accept what everyone else is saying about her
•She kept her faittfullness to the Lord and the temple
•She responded in kindness (calm-ness- maintaining her dignity) - telling of her pain
•She remained committed to the covenant she made

Whilst there might be other more mighty women or men around, here the vulnerabiilty and pain of a mother, became the source for virtuousity. She had in the words of another mother, Rosa Parks, quiet strenght

1 comment:

Steve Hayes said...

That's interesting. Do many churches think Mother's Day is important? We didn't remember that until it was long after the service, when we were coming home from buying Kentucky fried chicken for supper, not because it was Mothers Day, but b ecause it was my son's birthday and that's what he wanted, and then my wife and I chatted about it, and the horrible kitsch that the CNA was promoting for it. So we didn't remember it in church at all. In church it was the Sunday of the Paralytic.