Is it right to celebrate Mother’s Day at church?

When we gather as a church our purpose is to worship God.  So is it right to celebrate mother’s day and father’s day at church?  I mean, those holidays are certainly not Christian, biblical holidays.  You could even argue that mother’s day has its origin in pagan springtime fertility celebrations.  So why are we celebrating a pagan holiday? (Full disclosure – we celebrated mother’s day at my church).  I brought up this question during our devotional time at a recent worship team rehearsal.  These are some of the issues that we came up with:

  • Is it biblical?  Well, we certainly aren’t commanded to and they didn’t celebrate mother’s day during bible times, but at the same time we aren’t prohibited from thanking God for our mothers or encouraging mothers.  So we have to grapple with whether we take Luther’s view – anything not prohibited by scripture is permissible.  Or Calvin’s view that only what scripture expressly commands or demonstrates is permissible, also known as the “Regulative Principle of Worship”.  Most of us come down on Luther’s side with this one.  I’m guessing that reformed Presbyterians (who follow Calvin’s view and don’t use musical instruments in their worship services) don’t make a big deal about mother’s day.
  • Inclusion and Exclusion – if we decide that it is OK to have a service that is still centered on Christ but of particular encouragement to mothers how do we handle all those who aren’t mothers?  Is it OK to exclude some people from some parts of a service?  Where do we draw the line?
  • Expectations and Perspectives – If we totally ignored mother’s day at our church there would be some upset people!  They are expecting us to acknowledge and celebrate mothers.  But there are also people for whom mother’s day is very difficult.  If you have a strained relationship with your mother or she was abusive, or she recently passed away you might find the day very difficult.  As worship leaders we need to be aware of these perspectives and account for them as best we can.  For instance, a video with pictures of mom’s with their newborn babies will have totally different effects on a new mom as opposed to a woman who unable to have children yet longs to be a mom.

Nobody said being a worship leader was easy…  and by the way, I love my mom.