Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and many church worship leaders are thinking about how to observe this particular holiday – if at all.
Most churches have some tradition of honoring mothers on this day. However, as more and more churches are becoming aware that Mother’s Day is deeply painful for many people, they are carefully considering which, if any, of those traditions to keep.
As a member of a church staff, I know you can never please everyone. As a church member who is also a mother, I can’t speak for all mothers or all church members. I can only speak for myself. And I would like to say to the church: it’s OK with me if you don’t do anything for Mother’s Day.
I don’t need to stand and be recognized as a mother; everyone who has seen me rounding up my boys in the church halls or slipping them mints during the sermon already recognizes that I am one.
I don’t need or expect the church to give me a gift or even applause. And I really don’t want to stand or receive a token while knowing that others are suffering from wounds that Mother’s Day exacerbates.
However, there are some things that I do need from the church on Mother’s Day and every day.
1. Quality Christian education for children.
Even though my husband and I are both seminary graduates, we can’t do this Christian formation thing alone. Our kids need to know other adults’ stories and perspectives. They need to know that other adults in the church love them, and they need a chance to learn alongside their peers.
2. Child care.
I need you to recognize that there are some church events I can’t take part in without child care.
And I need you not to assume that I want to work in the nursery (or lead children’s Sunday school or choir and so on), or that I somehow owe it to the church to take my turn in doing so.
Just because I’m a mom doesn’t mean I just love taking care of everybody’s children at every single opportunity. My heart and God-given gifts long to serve the church in other ways.
3. Support and help with my parenting.
I don’t mean yet another set of “how to” rules to live up to. I mean compassionate, listening ears. I mean sound advice, carefully given. I mean the chance to get away from my kids once in a while.
I mean opportunities to learn and grow with my children. I mean a parenting discussion (or perhaps venting) forum.
I mean things that remind me I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed and in over her head with this whole parenting thing.
4. Some “God our Mother” language to go along with all the “God our Father” language.
Remind me that God is my role model in mothering as in all else. Remind me that God is my mother. Remind me that mothering is a godly calling.
5. Opportunities for all the women in the church to shine.
Mothers are not the only women doing hard, important, godly work around here. Not only do I want this for my fellow ladies, I need it for my children. I need my children to see that women are empowered and appreciated in and by the church.
6. Care and support for the mothers in our community and around the world who do not have the resources to care for their children that I do.
Although I am far from the wealthiest mom around, I am able to give my children a home in an area with clean water, good schools and safe places to play.
They have plenty of clothes, food, enriching experiences and more books than some school libraries. I want those things for all moms and their children everywhere.
So help me to lift up my fellow mothers. Lead the way in following God’s example as a mother and as a friend.
7. Support and recognition (but not necessarily the stand-up-on-Father’s-Day kind) for all the fathers, too.
Editor’s note: A series of articles on worship planning and Mother’s Day is available here.