May 9th is Mother’s Day. As I think upon that day, I find myself experiencing a variety of emotions, even conflicting emotions. Perhaps you do, as well. I was blessed to have a wonderful mother whom I loved dearly and who loved me dearly. Ours was a close relationship and we shared with one another some tough times, as well as some wonderful times. Minnie, my mum, died 25 years ago and I miss her very much and so in addition to a feeling of celebrative joy, there is a sense of loss and sadness.
I think of my daughter who is a mother of two amazing, delightful, beloved children: my granddaughter Sophia who is nine years of age, and my grandson Leo who is just six months old. I am so grateful and joy filled to know she is a loving, good mom with a kind, caring spouse and she is so happy in her family life. Something to celebrate joyfully on Mother’s Day!
I think of my ex-wife, the mother of my children (Barry, Kellie, and Graham) and it raises the old pain of a sometimes difficult marriage that eventually ended, while at the same time gives joy in remembrances of times shared raising these three incredible children.
And then I think of those whose experiences give rise to even more intense, challenging feelings: those who have lost children through divorce or death; those who wish to have children of their own but don’t or can’t; those whose memories of their mother are painful or non-existent.
Mother’s Day is a secular holiday, one in which families gather, to share a meal, offer bouquets of flowers, give cards and presents, make phone calls. And that is as it should be. Mothers are amazing, strong, hardworking human beings and they deserve to be celebrated. But Mother’s Day isn’t part of the Christian calendar and celebrating it within the church can be an awkward, exclusive and uncomfortable experience for many. In the United Church of Canada the second Sunday of May is known as Christian Family Sunday and celebrates the entire family in all its many and varied configurations. On this day we recognize all the “mothering” figures in our lives – those who have nurtured us, mentored us, cared for us, loved us.
Let me close with the beautiful and compassionate prayer of Rev. Magrey deVega of the United Methodist Church which conveys the value of celebrating Mother’s Day while at the same time remaining compassionate toward those who find this day a difficult one. This prayer certainly touched my soul as an expression of God’s grace. I hope it will similarly touch yours:
God of Provision and Unconditional Love, on this day when we acknowledge the importance of motherhood among us, we first give thanks that you are a loving parent to us all. From your being all life was born, and in your bosom all creation is nurtured. You have formed us in your image as your children, and gathered us together as a brood under your wing. You have united us as kindred members of one human family, and we are grateful to be your offspring together. We celebrate your divine love, reflected in human expressions of motherhood.
We give you thanks for the mothers and grandmothers among us, and ask that you strengthen them in their daily tasks. Grant them wisdom in the lessons they teach, patience in the discipline they foster, and persistence in their promotion of decency and compassion, both by word and example. May they be given the honor and thanks they deserve but often do not receive.
We thank you for all motherly figures: grandmothers, aunts, sisters, wives, step-mothers, foster mothers, guardians, babysitters, teachers, health care providers, neighbors, friends, loved ones, partners, and many others, who practice self-sacrifice and embody compassion to all who are privileged to be in their influence. Grant them vigor to carry on their work, and the satisfaction that the holy privilege of their task affords.
We acknowledge to you, O God, that even amid our grateful celebration, many of us come with restless spirits, reluctant to name the difficulties of this day. For some, this day brings the sorrowful awareness of their own inability to conceive biological children.
Draw your tender spirit near their feelings of self-betrayal, impotence, and grief, and remind them that those who struggle with infertility have always shared a special place in your heart. We pray for those who have suffered miscarriages, those fatigued by fertility treatments, and those struggling through the process of adoption.
For some, this day is marked by loneliness and grief, as they spend this first Mother’s Day as a widower, an orphan, or a parent who has lost a child. To those who today live in the wake of the death of a loved one, grant glimpses of the resurrection. Bring to them a steady restoration of their broken hearts, allow them to live into their future with hope, and empower them to carry out the legacy of lessons instilled within them.
For some, this is a day that surfaces ongoing tensions that exist within our personal relationships and family dynamics. We ask for healing from the wounds of our past, a path of forgiveness for wrongs both experienced and committed, and the rebuilding of trust forged in honesty, authenticity, and love.
We give you thanks for the wide spectrum of motherhood represented among us today: new mothers and young mothers whose children are in their most tender years; mothers of grown children who transition into empty nests and a new chapter of self-discovery; mothers and grandmothers of advanced years, whose twilight of life is marked by frailty of body but a potency of spirit. Theirs is a cumulative reminder that though our lives are marked by transition and change, your nurture and affection for all your children remains the same.
Therefore, remind us to live with a child-like faith, curious to every wondrous mystery, attentive to your every instruction, obedient to your every command, and willing to share with every one of your children. We give you thanks, O God, who is a loving Mother and Father to us all, and in whose name we pray.
May God bless you one and all. I pray for your continued safety and support as this pandemic continues, yet certainly nears its end as more and more of us get vaccinated. Please know I am always available to be contacted for any purpose whatsoever.
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