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Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 | 0 comments

Mother’s Day: thoughts & a prayer

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Mother’s Day has become sort of a thing.  Like it has happened with Memorial Day and Passover Seders on Maundy Thursday, more and more of my colleagues have developed an ambivalent/tense/negative relationship with the second Sunday in May.  “It’s just a Hallmark holiday,” some will say.  “It has no place in the church calendar,” other will say.  Still others will bemoan the particular ministry complexities of this day, arguing, “not everyone has a mother,” or “not everyone has/had a good relationship with their mothers.”  For these reasons and others, Mother’s Day has become a thing which some churches do not observe at all, which some observe only in spite of the gritted teeth of their pastors and select congregants, or which some don’t see what the fuss it all about or don’t know there is a fuss at all.

I won’t preach to you here about the place of Mother’s Day in the life of the church or offer you arguments about why you should or should not observe it in your worship services.  For those who do observe it in one way or another, here are some thoughts and ideas to consider:

  1. recognize that Mother’s Day is emotionally charged for many.  Worship elements that are too easy, encourage stereotypes, or which ignore the complicated relationships humans have with their real mothers, do not make for good worship, good ministry or good news.
  2. recognize that Mother’s day is filled with educational and pastoral care opportunities: a) it is a good day to explore feminine images of God (e.g. Psalm 131:2, Matthew 23:37), b) it is a good day to explore feminine language for God, c) it is a good day to be extra-intentional about including the voices of mothers in worship planning and as worship leaders (song, sermon, readers, etc.), d) it is a good day to tell the stories of biblical mothers, e) it is a good day to recognize and honor diverse family structures, and f) it’s is a good day to break stereotypes and expand perceptions about mothering.
  3. recognize that Mother’s Day does not have to be the main theme of an entire worship service.  A simple acknowledgement of the occasion in the announcements, a special litany, a special pastoral prayer, etc. might be enough.

While you are considering Mother’s Day, here is a practical resource to inspire you.  As our pastoral prayer on Mother’s Day 2015, we sang an adapted version of “Amazing Grace” and then ended with a recitation of the Lord’s Prayer:

  1. Amazing Mom!  How sweet the name that loves a one like me!  I once was small, but now am big; but yours I’ll always be.
  2.  ‘Twas you who raised me up for life, and sang of right and wrong, how precious is the bond we share, how precious is your song.
  3.  ‘Tis true you loved imperfectly, ‘tis true you failed sometimes, ‘tis grace that brought you to this point, ‘tis grace that heals past times.
  4.  When we can count ten-thousand years, let’s stroll across the land, lift praise for times and laughs and love, lift praise for God’s sweet hand.

We pray in Christ’s name and as he taught us to pray, saying:  Our Father…AMEN.

© Rev. Kevin Goldenbogen, 2016

Kevin Goldenbogen is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ serving an amazing congregation in the foothills of the Green Mountains of Vermont. He skis, climbs, runs, bakes bread, rides a red Vespa, and tries every day to follow Jesus. He is married to the perfect woman and has two boys who he loves beyond words.

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