Mother’s Day is a painful day for many in the church. Russell Moore offers a good suggestion for pastors.
(Dr. Moore was recently on FamilyLife with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine, and you can read or listen to their discussion on infertility, adoption, and the rearing of children who were adopted.)
I was also reminded of a section from a Mother’s Day sermon by John Piper where he addressed some various issues of pain that can be associated with this day:
There are millions of single women, and many will stay single.
There is a grace from God for that—a very special grace and for some even a calling.
There are women who are single mothers and the marriage element in the calling I just described is painfully missing.
Jesus Christ has a grace for that.
There are women who are married and cannot, or, with their husbands, choose not, to have children.
Jesus has a grace for that.
Update: I thought this comment below from a wise brother was worth highlighting:
Pastors, if there are two things I would add they would be as follows.
First, please avoid making a distinction between mothers and non-mothers in a physical way (e.g. having all the moms stand up or giving flowers to all the moms). I well remember sitting in a Father’s Day service where all the dads were asked to stand. I felt like there was a huge neon sign over me that kept flashing “not able to have kids, not able to have kids.” My wife felt it keenly as well: she began to weep. The most pastorally sensitive leaders I know avoid this like the plague. Instead, they acknowledge the day and proceed to pray earnestly for the full range of emotions that are being experienced on that day (since it is often quite painful, not just for those unable to have kids, but for those estranged from their moms, those moms who are estranged from their kids, those who have recently lost a mother, etc.).
This leads to the second thing. As Moore indicates, it is important to recognize that there are many conflicting emotions going on during a Mother’s Day service. It is crucially important to pastor all the people through that time. Here is the prayer I would offer on Mother’s Day:
Heavenly Father, on a day like Mother’s Day there are so many different emotions that we bring to you.
Some of us bring emotions of deep gratitude and joy for the mothers you have blessed us with, mothers who have
cared for us,
walked with us
and taught us how to live well.
We praise you for such love shown to us through our moms and we pray for all those who are moms, that you would give them:
strength where they are weak,
wisdom where they are unsure,
patience with the many demands placed upon them,
faith in your care for them and their families,
and love—deep love—for those whom you have given them to nurture.
Others of us bring emotions of sadness and pain. Some of us are saddened because our relationship with our mom is not easy, or was not easy, or perhaps never existed at all.
meet us in our pain,
heal our hearts where they are wounded,
soften our hearts where they are hardened,
and enable us to forgive and to love even those who have hurt us.
Others of us are saddened because we long to be moms, long to have children, and yet are not able to do so.
Father of mercies,
give us comfort in our sadness,
trust in you despite unfulfilled longings,
and joy in knowing that you never stop loving us or having our best in mind.
We pray these things to you as our Father, who loved us before the world began, and will love us forevermore.
In Jesus’ name, amen!