As I’m sure everyone is aware, this Sunday is going to be Mother’s Day. My family will be doing what we do most years—gathering at my parents’ house for dinner and trying to make sure my mom doesn’t do too much of the cooking and cleaning up. A lot of us have tried and true traditions for Mother’s Day, as do a lot of churches.
As far as secular holidays go, Mother’s Day is well established in churches. Maybe that’s because families make a point of going to church together then. It can sometimes be a very high attendance Sunday, just after Easter in terms of numbers.
At St. Paul’s, we will recognize Mother’s Day, including special petitions in our prayers for mothers, but it won’t be the main focus of the day. Mother’s Day can be a challenging time for many, and it can be isolating and deeply saddening to sit through a service all about mothers.
As much as we celebrate and give thanks for the women in our lives who have nurtured, raised, and loved us, there is also heartbreak and distress on this day. For those who have strained or harmful relationships with their mothers. For women who desperately wish to be mothers, but have faced disappointment. For mothers whose children have died. For those of us whose mothers have died. In our prayers on Sunday, we will give thanks for the ways mothers show us God’s love, and we will also acknowledge the pain and grief that can be felt on this day.
There is no “right way” to feel on Mother’s Day. I hope that in church all feel accepted, no matter their emotions or backgrounds. Scripture is such a wonderful example to us, of all the ways that God uses women, mothers, and mothering figures, to show love, fierceness, and grace in this world.
I think of Hannah, who longed for a child and was disappointed for so many years. Of Ruth, who demonstrated the bonds between women—whether they are blood relations or not. Or of Martha and Mary, who show us there is no one way to be a woman or to be a disciple. Of Dorcas, who was a leader in the early church, showing that strength and compassion are not conflicting gifts. Of Eunice and Lois, whose gifts of motherhood (and grandmotherhood) teach us how to share God’s love with our children.
Mother’s Day can be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the women in our lives who are mothers to us. It is also a time to keep in prayer all those for whom this day is difficult. May we show each other the love and compassion of God, who is Mother to us all.
A blessing for mothers:
in love you have given us the gift of mothers.
Grant to each of them your power and grace.
Strengthen them in their mothering
with tenderness and understanding,
with compassion and joy.
Endow them with wisdom and knowledge
so that they might teach their children
how to live and how to love;
how to seek and pursue that which is right and true;
how to turn away from all that is hurtful and wrong.
Deepen their own faith
so that they might instill in their children a love for you
that will sustain and keep them their whole life long.
We ask this in Jesus’ name.