Here we are a year after the infamous letter I wrote to you and the two follow-up posts: wondering what had just happened (clearly a nerve was struck) and learned lessons from all the folks commenting. You might be wondering what’s up when you hear from me, and you wouldn’t be the only one! I, inadvertently, have become a go-to person to share ideas for Mother’s Day and wanted to pass on what I’ve learned.
Before we get to the ideas, let me preface it with the reminder that you are the expert on your flock, I’m not! Not all of these ideas will work in your context, they are merely suggestions (can you see I’m a bit gun shy on what might show up in the comment section :)). Take, use, discard. I am for you and this list is intended as a resource.
In the service you could:
1. Focus on scripture. If you’ve been preaching a series, keep going. If your church is one that follows the liturgical calendar, follow that. We’ve come to hear from and worship God.
2. Preach/teach on what it means to honor our mothers and fathers. Honoring parents was a common theme, but what does that mean when your mom isn’t in church with you? Or when your parent isn’t easy to honor? Or they have now passed? You’ve been given a rich opportunity to teach on this subject!
3. Preach/teach on the Imago Dei and the ways that mothering reflects God. As Sarah Ruden says, “love is manically verb centered.” So is mothering. Active verbs show the heart of an active God. Nurturing, instructing, protecting, disciplining, nursing, serving, calming, enjoying, challenging, teaching, cleaning, entertaining, worrying over, singing over, playing with and the list could go on.
4. Mention mothers and mothering in the pastoral prayer. Here is a sample Mother’s Day prayer.
6. Have a woman speak. One example comes from Linda Crites. When asked to speak at her church, she spoke about four kinds of mothers: “(1) people like me who became a birth mother quite young, not a life goal, just happened (2) my sister, who dreamed all of her life of having children (3) my friend Melissa who married a man who already had children and chose to not have children with him but help him raise his (4) a dear older woman who had no biological children but spent her life mentoring others.”
(Bonus: here are free video resources)
Ideas for Sunday School Teachers
7. (from Carolyn Barnetta) Not all children live with or even know their mothers. Perhaps they are being raised by a single dad or grandparents. Talk personally with the custodial parent or guardian before next Sunday, and ask them how they want you to handle the situation with their child. If you are making a gift for mothers in class, ask the parent/guardian if they would like to have their child make the gift for a grandmother, step-mother, friend, aunt, etc. Then, the custodial parent will have an opportunity to talk with their child during the week. It will keep you from having to deal with an awkward situation that might embarrass the child.
8. No standing, please. Either for mothers or women. It’s kind of a no-win situation. Some moms want special recognition and not to have the standing shared, other feel very uncomfortable standing. Some women are annoyed with they are commended for “mothering” but aren’t mothers. Let’s side step this one (and by implementing the above ideas, mothers are acknowledged and honored!).
9. No baby dedication on this day. Any other day, please dedicate those precious babies and children! We love them and need them and want them dedicated to the Lord (allowing the focus to be on the child being dedicated).
10. No handing out red or white flowers depending if your mom is alive or has died. The consensus was to leave flowers or other small gifts at the back or in a narthex or gathering area and allow people to get them. Chocolate seems to be a BIG hit, just fyi :).
Again, thank you for serving and shepherding us day after day. And remember, it’s not all on you; much is in the ear of the hearer combined with the work of the Spirit. Knowing that Mother’s Day is the third most attended day of the year, I’m praying for you as are many others in your flock.
Grace and peace to you, my brother or sister,
P.S. Here’s a resource for you: 14 Tips for the Messy Middle