Mothers Day – May 8, 2022

Scripture Texts

Selections from next week’s lectionary may be appropriate:
In Acts 16. 9-15 Luke recounts Paul’s visit to Philippi. In a dream Paul is beckoned to Macedonia by a man; but it is a woman who greets him and joins in his ministry. And knowing they are on the road, she also welcomes his group to stay in her home.

In Psalm 67 we sing God’s praise and ask God’s blessing, that “God’s face will shine upon us,” that we will experience God’s gracious presence.

Revelation 21.22 – 22.5 is a vision of the “new Jerusalem.” God, not the sun, is its light, and in its center is the river of the water of life, and the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. As Lydia provided a home for Paul, in John’s vision God is a home for us.

In John 14.23-29 Jesus offers an image of God not as a king on a far-off throne, but as a homemaker. God comes and “makes a home” with us. In fact God is our home: Jesus says “I am in God and you in me, and I in you.” He promises the Holy Spirit, and says, “My peace I give you.”

Additional texts:
Hosea 11.1-11 portrays God as a loving mother whose child, Israel, has become rebellious. Though she feels like rejecting her child, she will not, because she is God, not human: she acts in love, not anger.

Psalm 131
(a version is below) imagines us in the arms of a nursing mother, at peace.

Colossians 3.12-17 is not about motherhood, but describes a way of living together that any mother would recognize as what she wants for her family.

In Luke 13.34 Jesus refers to himself as a mother hen protecting her children.

Guiding Thoughts

Before it was swallowed up in Hallmark sentimentality Mothers Day originally arose as an action for Peace: mothers who refused to send their sons off to war to kill other mothers’ sons. (Here’s a little history.) Be careful with how you treat Mothers Day in worship. Honoring mothers can easily be construed as preferring motherhood, leaving those who are not mothers, by choice or otherwise, to wonder when they get their day. And some people are troubled honoring “all mothers,” if their own mother was abusive. The day can easily give way to the belief that women are justified chiefly by bearing children and that their highest calling in life is as homemakers. So be thoughtful.

Mothers Day can be a day to lift up images of God as Mother, but again: be thoughtful. Our sexist images of God need to be done away with, and Mothers Day can be a chance to gently introduce feminine images of God. (See my piece on feminine images of God here.) But if you do, keep it up. If we pray to Mother God once a year and Father the rest of the time, the tokenism will only serve to further obscure the fact that God is beyond gender. Keep in mind that the characteristics of God that are revealed in feminine images of God, except for birthing and nursing, are attached only to our social stereotypes of women and mothers. Our culture says certain traits, like strength, courage, or assertiveness, are masculine and others like nurturing, receptiveness or gentleness are feminine—but that’s not usually true. Except for biological functions, most gender roles are a social construct. Women are strong and courageous; men are gentle and receptive. Men raise children and women earn salaries. So be careful how you set out social gender role stereotypes as descriptions of God. They should expand our understanding of God, not restrict our understanding of mothers and women. For example we might frame the Eucharist as God our mother providing a meal for her family. But be careful not to imply that cooking and serving a meal is for mothers only, and isn’t a fatherly thing to do.

Call to Worship

Leader: Holy God, heavenly Mother,
you have given us birth and watched over us in love. We praise you.
All: Risen Christ, loving brother, you have shared with us the gift of life.
We thank you.
Holy Spirit, confident sister, you have walked with us and believed in us.
We give you our hearts.
Eternal God, Holy Trinity, family of grace, we worship you.
We gather at the family table to tell stories, to share bread,
and to give each other our hearts,
so that our lives will be changed. Alleluia!


Prayer

God of Love, Mother of our Souls, we thank you for the gift of life: that by your grace we are born anew from you; that you nurse us at the breast of Creation, that you have held us, guided us, and taught us to walk. You gather all your children in your loving arms; grant us peace with one another in your love. We pray for all mothers, givers of life; strengthen them with your love and grace. We pray especially for mothers who raise their children in poverty, violence, war or unhealthy environments; that we may care for one another as for our own kin. We pray for mothers whose children fight our wars for us; that we may learn peace. Gracious God, Mother of us all, grant us your peace. Amen.

Reading

(Psalm 131)

O Lord, my heart has not been haughty,
nor have my eyes looked too high,
nor have I striven for great things,
nor for things too wondrous for me.
But I have calmed and contented myself
like a weaned babe in my mother’s arms,
like a weaned child I am at peace.
O Israel, trust in God;
trust, now and forevermore.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Loving Mother God,
I nurse in your arms;
I rest in your lap;
I am at peace.
You are with me;
adoring, you hold me;
I open my heart to your presence.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Our Mother God, you have given birth to us,
and we are made in your image.
You have nursed us with your love and fed us your grace;
you protect us from bullies and set us free from all that we fear.

You call us as one family, all humanity, siblings all,
to live together in peace, and to feast together at the table you set.
Therefore with the whole family of Creation we sing your praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, Mother of our Souls,
who embodied your love.
He fed the hungry as his own children;
he offered healing and comfort.

Like a mother hen gathering her children he gathered us
in his grace in a community of love.
He was crucified, but you raised him from the dead.

He invites us to his table, to feast on the grace
he has prepared for us like a mother feeding her children.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us, that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
born anew from the womb of your grace,
bearing the image and the heart of your love,
for the healing of the world.

(Amen.)

____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Children of the Heavenly Mother    (Tune: Children of the Heavenly Father)

Children of the Heavenly Mother
gather gladly with each other,
for you call us to your table,
bringing gifts as we are able.

You have held us and caressed us,
washed and taught us, healed and blessed us.
You who cherish and adore us,
God, you set this table for us.

You have birthed us, and have freed us;
with your body now you feed us.
In this grace, O loving mother,
we are one with one another.

So we praise you, heavenly Mother,
Holy Spirit, Christ our brother,
All Creation sings together
honor, thanks and praise for ever.


This Is Our Mother’s World       (Tune: This Is My Father’s World)

As a mother in her love surrounds her own with care,
God gives us birth and life and earth and grace beyond compare.
This is our Mother’s world; her grace is everywhere,
each person blest, held to her breast, enfolded in her care.

As a mother tends her young and teaches them her ways,
God loves us so that her light will show: our lives become her praise.
This is our Mother’s world. Her care for us is sure.
Though we go wrong her love stays strong. Her love and grace endure.

As a mother, wise and kind, leads children day by day,
God holds us near so we can hear the voice that guides our way.
This is our Mother’s world, and so our gifts we bring,
to freely share her loving care, and praises gladly sing.