You Won’t Have to Stand Up on Mother’s Day

In most churches Mother’s Day is the third highest attended worship service (after Christmas Eve and Easter) and I credit the power of a mom, grandma, or motherly influence to bring family to church. In fact, I’ll be preaching about the faithful influence of women on our faith development this Mother’s Day by looking at the midwives of the Exodus story. (It’s a sermon inspired by the excellent book Defiant: What the Women of Exodus Teach Us about Freedom by Kelley Nikondeha.) 

But unlike in some churches, we won’t be singling out mothers or women by asking them to stand or passing out a small kind gesture. We won’t be celebrating a narrow form of mothering at the expense of those who don’t fit that narrow form. We’ll honor the spectrum of mothering and womanhood in prayer and celebrate worship like every other Sunday. 

Amy Young, who blogs at messymiddle.com offers a tribute prayer for the wide spectrum of mothering that reflects my pastoral experience and I think can be helpful for us: 

To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you

To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. 
We remember you.

As a pastor, I count it as my humble privilege to attend to so many different forms of family and all the different ways life happens in family. In all the beauty and brokenness of life that also is part of family the image of God and God’s redeeming grace is made manifest. That’s why I find it important to speak truthfully and faithfully about the spectrum of mothering on Mother’s Day as so much of our culture focuses narrowly on mothering. 

However, you celebrate (or do not celebrate) this Mother’s Day weekend I want you to know that “wherever and whoever you are, we walk with you. You are loved. You are seen. You are worthy.

And may you know the deep love without end of our big, wild, beautiful God who is the very best example of a parent that we know.”

Blessings,