May 10, 2006

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Mother's Day I’ve been reading lately about how our consumer culture tempts the Christian with a competing and compelling way of being in the world. It even has its own calendar, featuring economic “holy days” in which we are encouraged to engage in ritualized pagan practices. This upcoming Sunday, Mother’s Day, notwithstanding its ostensibly Christian origins, is one such day. Not surprisingly, many churches participate in the cultural holiday by having special “Mother’s Day” worship services. This is not in itself a necessarily bad thing. The church excels at baptizing culturally suspect practices and turning them to God’s good ends. And I love my mother, I love my wife, and I happen to be a huge fan of motherhood and know well the spiritual value that being a parent can bring. But we’re on dangerous ground when the Church’s worship on this day turns away from new life in Jesus Christ, and turns rather into a slightly veiled civic celebration of the “traditional” family and the woman’s often subservient role within it. We are on slick footing when we plan services that have less to do with engaging a triune God and more to do with handing out a bit of instruction regarding our own preferred parenting methods. We risk pastoral malpractice when we put a certain type of woman on a pedestal, take a soft-focus picture, and offer bland, if well-meant praise, all the while ignoring the pain and the gifts of other types of women in our congregations: unwed mothers, women who have had abortions, women who have suffered from undesired childlessness, and women, both single and wed, for whom God’s call does not include children at all. So this Mother’s Day, make use of the counter-cultural liturgical calendar, and follow the lectionary readings for your service planning. And then let the struggles of family life and motherhood inform a rich pastoral prayer, like one of these from the Lutheran Church in Australia: God of all life, We thank you for adopting us into your family through the miracle of baptism, and for calling us to be brothers and sisters to each other through Jesus, the only Son of God. Today, loving Father, we pray for our mothers: who cared for us when we were helpless, who comforted us when we were hurt, whose love and care we usually took for granted, as we often take your love for granted. Today we pray for: those who are grieving the loss of their mother, maybe even years after they were separated; those who never knew their biological mother, and now yearn for her; those who have experienced the wonder of an adopted mother’s love; the families separated in the wars in ___. Lord, give them special blessings. Keep us united with Christ, so that we can love in the way he loves us and all people. We ask this for Jesus’ sake. Amen. Gracious God, we pray: for new mothers, coming to terms with both the joys and demands of motherhood;...
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A Mother's Day Liturgy Last year we used this Mother's Day liturgy and it received a warm reception. It's inclusive of women in all stages of life. Mothers’ Day Liturgy Lord, on this day set aside to honor and remember mothers, we give you thanks for our mothers. We are grateful that you chose to give us life through them, and that they received the gift of life from your hands, and gave it to us. Thank you for the sacrifices they made in carrying us and giving us birth. We thank you for the women who raised us, who were our mothers in childhood. Whether birth mom, adopted mom, older sister, aunt, grandmother, stepmother or someone else, we thank you for those women who held us and fed us, who cared for us and kissed away our pain. We pray that our lives may reflect the love they showed us, and that they would be pleased to be called our moms. We pray for older moms whose children are grown. Grant them joy and satisfaction for a job well done. We pray for new moms experiencing changes they could not predict. Grant them rest and peace as they trust you for the future. We pray for pregnant women who will soon be moms. Grant them patience and good counsel in the coming months. We pray for moms who face the demands of single parenthood. Grant them strength and wisdom. We pray for moms who enjoy financial abundance. Grant them time to share with their families. We pray for moms who are raising their children in poverty. Grant them relief and justice. We pray for step-moms. Grant them patience and understanding and love. We pray for moms who are separated from their children. Grant them faith and hope. We pray for moms in marriages that are in crisis. Grant them support and insight. We pray for moms who have lost children. Grant them comfort in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We pray for mothers who aborted their children. Grant them healing and peace. We pray for moms who gave up their children for adoption. Grant them peace and confidence as they trust in your providence. We pray for adoptive mothers. Grant them joy and gratitude for the gift you have provided. We pray for girls and women who think about being moms. Grant them wisdom and discernment. We pray for women who desperately want, or wanted, to be moms. Grant them grace to accept your timing and will. We pray for all women who have assumed the mother’s role in a child’s life. Grant them joy and the appreciation of others. We pray for those people present who are grieving the loss of their mother in the past year. Grant them comfort and hope in Christ’s resurrection. All mothers, women, and girls are invited to come to the front of the sanctuary to receive a blessing through prayer and the laying on of hands. Lord, we thank you for the gift of motherhood. We...

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