Today is Mother's Day. As a pastor, I don’t attach a lot of significance to planning worship around particular days of the year. Some churches do that kind of thing, making a special emphasis on Mother's Day, Father's Day, the Sunday before Independence Day and such.
It's not that those kinds of days don’t have a particular importance, but it is that those days don’t really have a lot to do with the worship of God. God created mothers and we can thank him for that. God created the independence we enjoy in this country, and we can thank him for that as well. But to make mothers, or something else, the focal point of worship drifts too closely, in my mind, to worshipping those things rather than God. And it is God, alone, revealed as Father, Son and Spirit, that we want to worship.
But not planning worship around a particular holiday does not mean that I don’t want to be aware of that holiday, or be insensitive to the things that may be on people's minds as we gather for worship. In the picture are some notes I made before worship this morning of things that I wanted to be mindful of in our congregational prayer. Every Sunday before worship starts I make a few notes of things I want to include in our prayer. Then during worship I ask if people have things that they want to lift up in prayer. Those two things give me a rough outline of the prayer I will pray on behalf of the congregation.
As you can see from my note, mothers were on my mind as I thought about the prayer. I wanted to pray for mothers. I also wanted to be mindful of those women who wanted children but weren't label to have them. And lastly, I wanted to remember those mothers who have lost children.
Among our congregation there are a lot of women who are good mothers. They are doing the hard work necessary to do the best they can for their children. In some cases this includes aunts and grandma's who are actively either helping someone in their family, or who are raising the children as their own. There can be a number of reasons for that last group, and I don’t want to cast any blame. I just want to bring to God a word of thanks for mothers, and to ask him to continue to strengthen and guide women filling that very much needed role.
There are a few women I know of in our congregation who have lived with the disappointment of not being able to have children on their own. They may still have become moms through other means but I know that they are living with a sense of loss over what others had that they couldn't, and a holiday like Mother's Day can be a very painful reminder of that. I don’t recall now what I said during worship this morning, but I hope that it was something that asked God to be tender and comforting towards them.
And then there is a group of mothers who live with the very hard knowledge of having lost children. As parents our general expectation is that our children will survive us, but we know that this isn't always the case. As I thought about my own congregation this morning I thought of six women I know of who are members and who have lost one, or more, of their children. I can't imagine the range and depth of emotions that run through them as their children come to mind, or on a day such as this, when being a mother may be celebrated and they no longer have the child that called them mom.
Mothers are a good gift from God and the role of a mother will change over the course of the life of their child. But something infinitely better is the God who created mothers. The God who never changes. The God whose love for his children is as strong on the first day as it is on the last.
May he strengthen and guide those women who are moms actively raising children. May he provide comfort to those women who longed for children but never had any. And may he comfort those moms whose motherhood is also tinged with grief and loss. Amen.