A recent post over at John Alan Turner's place led me to start thinking about sermons.
Now, I realize that no one's personal experience counts as research. Impressions are not the same thing as statistics. But I couldn't resist the urge to identify what seem to be some trends in preaching when it comes to Mother's Day and Father's Day, especially in the group I know best, the Churches of Christ. Here's what I recall:
When I was a kid (the 1970s took me from age 7 to 17), I don't remember the preachers in my home congregation ever preaching a Mother's or Father's Day sermon. Seems like there were a few years on Mother's Day when the preacher felt compelled to acknowledge the corsages in the crowd, which led to a few remarks of appreciation. But it was never more than that.
I'm guessing that it was in the 1980s that this type of preaching became more common in the Churches of Christ, beginning with a sermon on Mothers' Day, if not one for Fathers' Day. Then, by the 1990s, both had become a bit of a fixture in this fellowship. If, like me, you're old enough to be a sort of walking history book, does my description match up with your own experience?
Here's something else I've noticed. In the Churches of Christ, the Mother's Day sermons I've heard (and, yes, preached) have typically gone something like this: You ladies are great! You certainly deserve a lot more credit than you get. We love you. Please, for our sakes, keep up the good work.
And then there's the Fathers' Day sermon, which has typically gone something like this: Some of us, maybe most of us, had fathers who were deeply flawed. Truth be told, most of you dads out there are a bunch of Homers too. If you only realized your great potential, you'd work a lot harder at being a good father (husband too). So get with it! Oh well, at least God is our father.
Again, does this sound familiar to you? Either way, I'm interested in hearing the experiences of others. A few questions:
What sorts of cultural norms and stereotypes influence this sort of preaching?
With May and June coming up quickly, what do you think preachers need to hear from the rest of us regarding how to handle these preaching occasions?
You preachers out there: Do you like or loath preaching on these two Sundays? And what are you planning to do this year?