Sunday, May 13, 2007,3:45 PM
Mother's Day
So I preached the Mother's Day sermon this morning (perfect way to honor moms - let them lead and don't make them cook). Thinking back over the Mother’s Day sermons I have heard at various points in my life - at best they were pathetic attempts to tell moms that they really are contributing something worthwhile to society and at worst were excuses to tell women why God doesn’t want them to work outside the home.

Obviously I wasn't interested in rubberstamping gender roles today. I didn't preach on what women have to be like or should be 'allowed' to be like. I just told stories. Stories of women, of mothers, who worked to make this world a better place. Stories that highlighted that often it is the women who are the only ones who can be heard and make a difference in certain situations.

We set the stage with the story of Naboth's vineyard from 1 Kings 21. As story of taking a stand against injustice.

We then noticed the striking parallels of that Biblical account with the modern day struggle of the women of the Niger Delta in their struggle against Chevron/Texaco.

But why stories of justice on Mother's Day? For that we told the story of the origins of Mother's Day in America which are rooted in mothers coming together to work for peace, justice, and equality. Women who see their identity as women and mothers (as human beings) as being more important than battle lines and nationality. As Julia Ward Howe wrote as she called for the first Mother's Day for Peace -
Mother's Day Proclamation - 1870
by Julia Ward Howe

Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."

From the voice of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

To explore those themes we told a couple more stories of women who changed their world. First we looked at the Mothers of the Disappeared who stood up to the evil military regime in Argentina. Then we turned to the Congo and watched a short film about women who are making better lives for their families through literacy and community banking programs like WORTH (a global women's empowerment program).

I like telling stories. I like claiming the strength of these women to inspire.

Happy Mother's Day

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