Mothers Day 2019 and beyond: Everything changes.

“In today’s service, we will be giving roses to  the oldest mother and the youngest mother present.”

Ever done that, Pastor?  I have.

Anything wrong with honoring motherhood in church?  Absolutely not.

We might need to find new ways to do so, however.

I started pastoring in late 1962, not long after graduating from college.  This means I led churches through the massive cultural shifts of the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and down to 2004.  I continue preaching at every opportunity, and am deeply involved in our churches. .

To say the ball game has changed forever would be the understatement of the year.

–My churches quit honoring the youngest mother when unwed teenagers began winning the roses.

–We began to reassess our practice of  honoring the oldest mother when one 95-year-old told me she stayed home on Mother’s Day so a 94-year-old friend could receive the roses.

–We took another look at the practice of honoring the mother with the most children when it appeared we were rewarding poor parenting skills and laziness.  (I will say no more about this, if you do not mind.)

–We gave a second thought to the entire process when some childless couples  confessed they stayed home since  the observance caused them so much pain.

–We gave a further consideration  to the observance when a few members  confided that they had deep hurts and permanent scars from ungodly, unloving mothers, and preferred to skip  the day altogether.

What to do?

My first thought, pastor is: “Well, do something! Don’t continue rewarding people who should not be singled out as role models and hurting people who have done nothing to deserve it.”

There are no simple answers. But if these concerns matter to you the pastor–and surely a compassionate shepherd cares about his sheep–here is what I suggest….

Rather than issuing a blanket announcement on “how we will be doing things from now on,” and risk alienating some dear people who have loved the observance, consider pulling together a dozen of your finest women and ask them to advise you.

This group should be made up of grandmothers, new mothers, and everyone in between.  Consider adding someone who was never able to have children and even a single adult or two.  After all, they had mothers  too, and presumably are  in favor of honoring them.

Have the coffee pot on.  And the tea bags available.

As the pastor, I would call the meeting to order and lay the problem/issues before them.  Arrange the chairs so everyone faces everyone else and no one is in charge.  I would emphasize that “we are not asking you to make the decisions;  We’re asking you to give us your best thinking.”

Stick around for a few minutes, then tell them you will leave them alone for 15 minutes (no one in charge)  and then return.

When you return, ask them to tell you what they’re thinking.  Either make notes yourself, pastor, or have a friend doing so in the background somewhere.

If the issues become too involved and no recommendations appear likely, consider splitting the group into three smaller clusters, with each one assigned a  specific question.  For instance…

–“Group One, your question is: Should the church give roses to the oldest mother present? If not, what should we do?

–Group Two, your question is: Should we honor the youngest mother present?  If not, what (if anything) should we do?

–Group Three, your question is: Should we stop the observance altogether? Or find a better way to do it?

It may be that the group will want to return in a few days after having time to think through the issues.

I’m guessing what you come up with will be more pleasing to everyone.  And the members of your little task force will forever appreciate a pastor who listens.

You do, don’t you?






4 thoughts on “Mothers Day 2019 and beyond: Everything changes.

  1. Because of all these concerns, and more, I have never honored mothers, but have honored all the women present and have offered a gift to all the women there.

  2. Thank you, Joe! Your wisdom is always helpful. Different churches, different traditions. Decisions all ministers must make in preparation for Mother’s Day Sunday. The emotions run…some are joyful, some are sad. Our congregation chooses to honor all families who have had a child (some adopted) in the past year. Mostly young parents, they come out with their infants and are introduced to the congregation at the beginning of the service. After a prayer of blessing, they take the infants back to the nursery.
    Later in the service, before the pastoral prayer, we offer this litany:
    A Blessing of Motherhood
    Pastor: To those who gave birth this year to a child-we celebrate you.
    People: To those who have ever lost a child-we mourn with you.
    Pastor: To those in the trenches with little one every day and wear the badge of food stains-we appreciate you.
    People: To those who’ve know loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, and keen disappointments-we mourn with you.
    Pastor: To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms-we need you.
    People: To those with warm and close relationships with your children-we celebrate with you.
    Pastor: To those who have disappointments, heartache, and distance with your children-we sit with you.
    People: To those who lost their mothers this year-we grieve with you.
    Pastor: To those who experienced abuse from your own mother-we acknowledge your experience. (Some pastors have chosen to omit this one.)
    People: To those who step-parent–we walk with you on those complex paths.
    Pastor: To those who will have emptier nests in the coming year-we grieve and rejoice with you.
    People: To those who placed your children up for adoption-we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.
    Pastor: And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expectant and surprising-we anticipate with you.
    ALL: Mothering is not for the faint of heart-we honor you!
    Pastoral Prayer Follows
    This is not for every church, but in our congregation, we have families who have experienced much in regard to motherhood. This is the effort not to ignore, but to bless, comfort, and celebrate.

  3. Like Bro. Todd, we have give a small gift to every mother present including expectant ones. This year I plan to add the prayer that Bro. Bruce shared. Thanks!

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