Pastor confided to our men’s prayer group that Mother’s Day is the most difficult occasion for him to preach because people come with such diverse expectations–and such a deep emotional investment in what they expect. It’s worse because so many visitors attend church on Mother’s Day (the third highest visitor Sunday of the year, after Easter and Christmas Sundays), so this is his first contact with many of his listeners.

He recalled a Mother’s Day that fell on the last Sunday of a capital campaign, when he was due to preach a sermon on generosity. It seemed providential. What could be more appropriate than a sermon on Christian generosity, illustrated by the generosity of mothers?

But immediately after the service, he was accosted in the narthex by an elderly gentleman who was visiting that day. As Pastor recalls it, this fellow was literally foaming at the mouth as he snarled, “How dare you, using Mother’s Day to ask for money?!?”

The preacher sees a wide range of emotions on the faces of a Mother’s Day congregation: Some are beaming because it’s one of the rare occasions when their whole family is doing something together. Others are apprehensive because Mother and Father are on the verge of divorce. For some, it’s their first Mother’s Day without Mother. Others feel bitter because they’ve been told on good authority that they can never be mothers.

A compassionate preacher dare not ignore their expectations. A consecrated preacher dare not cede the responsibility to a guest preacher or the children’s choir. So, prayerfully–“with much fear and trembling”–one can only step into the pulpit and begin.

A Christian writer feels like that!