Less than a week ago we celebrated the life of my mother-in-law after her unexpected death. Our grief is made less only in knowing she lived a good life filled with the richness of family and faith and in dying she went without pain or suffering to be with our Savior in Heaven. Even still, this will be the first Mother’s Day we will celebrate without her here with us. The pain and grief are real. This is a story many endure on the second Sunday in May. As others gear up to celebrate, many struggle with deep grief and heartache for the death of a mother or child this Mother’s Day. For them, we pray.
There are no easy answers to offer in the wake of death and loss. There is some measure of comfort to be found in knowing we never walk alone through these struggles because God is always with us. We find throughout the Bible an active, always present God who genuinely seeks to be in relationship with us. In Matthew, Jesus promises to be with us until the end of time. He also promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide us and be with us. In the wake of such human loss and pain as the death of a mother or child, may we know God is with us.
Though comforting, such an abstract idea can be very difficult for children to grasp, especially young kids who are such concrete thinkers. Whenever I am with a child who is struggling through grief, who needs the comforting word that they are not alone, I am reminded of the book The Invisible String by Patrice Karst.
In this story, told by a mother to her two children, an invisible string keeps them connected to one another no matter how far apart they find themselves. So, they are never alone. Children can imagine a string connecting two people in two different places — even a string to God. Like the invisible string, it’s the Holy Spirit who connects us to God who loves us and is with us always and forever.
And when a child — or an adult — is particularly sad for all he or she has lost to death, that string is there to tug on for a little extra comfort when it’s most needed.
Peace my friends.
As leaders in ministry with children and family, it often falls to us to help plan and visualize worship celebrations for Mother’s Day. I hope the prayers and resources below will help you discern what might work best for your congregation or spark a new and creative idea for you. First, a few thoughts on celebrating Mother’s Day in worship.
Growing up Mother’s Day was a special day to celebrate my mom with a bouquet of dandelions from our field, a cup of her favorite tea, and a new something special handmade at school. When I moved away from home, I expanded my understanding to include the women who mothered me through college, seminary, and early adulthood. Then, I became a mom — now the recipient of dandelion bouquets and handmade masterpieces. Along the way, I was blessed to meet women who became like sisters and loved me enough to “mother” me through tough times. Not to mention the many women I’ve encountered in my ministry who have showed me different ways women mother in the world. Today, Mother’s Day has such a broader and wider meaning in my life than it did when I was a little girl.
This ever growing sense of the greater scope of what it means to be a mother influences how I plan worship on Mother’s Day. I also keep close at heart the need to approach this day with great care and sensitivity. Paul reminds us in First Corinthians that as members of the community of Christ we are to care for one another. On Mother’s Day, this means we must both celebrate the joy and acknowledge the pain of being a woman on this day. It means honoring a woman’s worth is not tied to being a mother. And it means remembering many women long for motherhood but as of yet remain childless. It means recognizing some are grieving the death of their mothers and some mothers grieve the death of their children. As a community formed in the light and love of Christ, to care for one another means we must honor the wide spectrum of mothering.
And to all the moms out there who are planning Mother’s Day for others, thank you for all you do to lead in ministry, I see you and I give thanks for you.
Resources for Mother’s Day Worship:
- I’ve written a special children’s sermon to celebrate the gift of love and to acknowledge all church mothers who train up the next generation with love.
- These prayers honor female imagery of God found throughout the Bible and lift up prayers of celebration and concern for women on this day.
Prayers for Worship
- This powerful testimony leaves no woman left out on Mother’s Day and acknowledges both the joy and pain of mothering.
Wide Spectrum of Mothering Handout
- This is a beautiful story of the Biblical creation story retold to break down traditional assumptions that God is male, allowing young girls of all ethnicities to see themselves in the divine. The link takes you to Storypath, a site dedicated to sharing the rich theological resource of children’s books for Christian education; it is part of a project at Union Theological Seminary.
Children’s Book, When God Was a Little Girl
To purchase the book, click here
Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Let her share in the results of her work; let her deeds praise her in the city gates. Proverbs 31:30-31
Serve: women’s shelter
Connect: whether a mother, grandmother, teacher or family friend, most children can think of at least one woman who has had a positive effect on their lives and the desire to show appreciation for that woman’s work; take the tradition of honoring mothers to a new level by challenging children to honor all women for their work through a simple gift of pampering
- dawn hand renewal
- 4oz plastic cups with lids
- instructions printed onto cardstock and cut out
- plastic knives
- measuring cup
- plastic spoons
- stickers (hearts, stars, smiley faces)
- ribbon (optional)
- give each child a bowl and plastic knife
- add a 1/4 cup of sugar to the bowl
- add a tablespoon of dawn hand renewal
- have kids stir well
- add a little dawn hand renewal a time until it’s a paste like consistency
- scoop mixture into 4oz containers and secure lids
- add stickers to decorate
- secure the containers with ribbon (optional)