Mother’s Day 2019

I actually do like pink carnations

Mother’s Day is… interesting. It is relationally difficult, like most holidays involving all of us less-than-perfect people in our less-than-perfect families, but Mother’s Day puts all of the emphasis on a specific relationship (or lack of). For some of us, it’s a perfectly lovely holiday, but for some of us, it’s a perfectly terrible holiday. And it’s a holiday that churches can acknowledge in a perfectly lovely way or a perfectly terrible way. I’m sure every woman has a particular horror story to share about a Mother’s Day church service.

At one shall-remain-nameless church, a well-meaning pastor wanted to celebrate Mother’s Day, especially for a great-great-grandma in the congregation. He had the kids ready to hand out carnations, and asked certain women to stand so that the kids could run to them to give them the pink flowers. He started of course with, “If you are a great-great-grandmother, please stand up” and of course this proud woman beamed at the congregation like she had won a beauty contest. Then, “If you are a great-grandmother, please stand up” followed by grandmothers and mothers (you get the idea). Lots of happy women standing and looking at one another as if this is the coolest club they’ve ever been selected to join. Not every woman or girl was standing so he proceeded to find ways to include all of them, “If you would like to be a mother someday” was clearly what he thought would do the trick… but it didn’t. So, he went with, “If you have a mothering job, like Sunday school teacher, nurse, babysitter…” and eventually everyone stood up, including some of the men.

At a different shall-remain-nameless church, a well-intentioned group of people wanted to be sensitive to women who had lost children or had trouble conceiving, so they decided that every woman should receive a pink carnation. Great, except that, people assumed those without children were grieving. The committee passing out flowers also gave hugs and some not-so-welcomed condolences: “Someday you will be a wonderful mother”, “When you find the right man”, “It’s not too late for you”, “Keep trying”, “I will be praying that God gives you children”, and my personal favorite, “I had a dream you were pregnant, God must be telling us something”. I told her I was on my period. This kind of “encouragement” really ranks right up there with “Are you pregnant?”. I think Mother’s Day is the second worst time to be asked that question. The worst time is while you are in the line at a potluck dinner putting a cookie on your plate. At least that’s how I rank my experiences. Feel free to leave your worst in the comment section.

As a pastor, I have struggled with the notion that we should acknowledge Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) in worship and the notion that not everyone is going to appreciate that. It seems that most churches have a tradition of “doing something” for the day and that inertia is hard to stand against. So, I think it is the pastor’s responsibility to make as much room for all experiences (good and bad) on this particular holiday. Luckily, ideas were being posted on the Young Clergy Woman International Facebook group. Below is the litany that was shared in that group. It was borrowed from The Fat Pastor. I used it for Mother’s Day at Third Presbyterian Church, May 12, 2019.

Pastoral Litany

All:         We give God thanks and praise.

One:      For mothers vulnerable, worried, frustrated, and hurried,

All:        We pray for peace.

One:      For relationships that are strained and no longer a source of joy,

All:         We pray for healing.

One:      For mothers who have died, that live no longer with us, but whose light shines on in our hearts and memories,

All:         We pray for those that mourn, and give God thanks for life eternal.

One:      For mothers who grieve, who have lost children born or unborn,

All:         We weep with those with broken hearts.

One:      For those who are struggling to raise children, who are tired and weary,

All:         We pray that we may be their village, offering real help in hard times.

One:      For those who are preparing emptier nests,

All:         We both celebrate and mourn with you, and hope their wings are as strong as their roots are deep.

One:      For stepmothers, navigating the pitfalls and joys of creating a new family,

All:         We pray for wisdom and patience.

One:      For Grandmothers who are doing the hard work of raising children again,

All:         We pray the caregivers have those who care for them.

One:      For those who are waiting and sometimes struggling with the biological process to bring new life, and for those who are waiting for adoptive process to be fulfilled.

All:         We wait eagerly with you, and offer you our hand to hold in the trial.

One:      For women who do not have children, but instead teach, lead, care for, and guide the children of others,

All:         We give God thanks and praise.

One:      For the mothers, sisters, daughters in our midst and around the world. For the women who, created in the image of God, give not just life, but abundant life. For women fighting, struggling, and sweating for the sake of others. For women caring, compassionate, and crying with the heart of Christ. For the caregivers, prophets, preachers, teachers, leaders, shepherds, healers. For Moms, in their wide variety and many forms,

All:         We give God thanks and praise.

Permission to use this litany for public worship is granted. If it will be reprinted in worship bulletin, please attribute with link to Also, leave him a comment and let him know you’re using it, you don’t have to wait for him to reply. It just makes him happy to hear when other congregations use liturgy he writes.

2 thoughts on “Mother’s Day 2019

  1. I love it. Great job.

    The only one I would add: For the men doing the job of mothers because they are the only one.

    Because you know I had to!


    1. Absolutely! I’ll add that to next year’s mother’s day liturgy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close