I am a mother of two. One bright, creative, full of life five year old and her sister who lives in heaven. Mother’s Day has always been tricky for me. Don’t get me wrong. I love recognizing my mom, both of my grandmothers and the many other important “mothering” people in my life. My living child has an amazing godmother and many positive female role models but Mother’s Day is a challenge.
It’s a secular holiday; one of the biggest where families gather for brunch, bouquets of flowers are purchased, cards sent and phone calls made. And that in itself is incredible. And why not? Mothers are amazing, strong, hardworking human beings who deserve to be celebrated. But Mother’s Day isn’t part of the Christian calendar and celebrating it in worship often creates an awkward, exclusive and uncomfortable experience for many.
I know of several people who avoid church on Mother’s Day.
So as people who work with children, youth and across the generations we come across yet another struggle between the secular and church world. Here are some tips when it comes to planning worship and Sunday programs on Mother’s Day.
- If you traditionally give each women a flower, consider changing this up. Provide a few vases of flowers and at the end of worship invite anyone who wants to take one home to do so as a sign of celebration and recognition.
- During the prayer time include prayers for all women, not just mothers. Keep in mind that not all women have children but really want them while others aren’t parents and never wanted to be. Other families have adoptions in process or are working through fertility challenges. There are so many different emotions at play.
- In your planning, please remember any families who may have experienced a recent pregnancy loss or the death of a child. Will this be their first Mother’s Day since that tragedy? Send them a card to acknowledge that this is a difficult time and that the church is praying for them. You may also consider delivering them a Prayer Shawl.
- Are you planning to have your Sunday School or Youth Group make Mother’s Day gifts? Be sure to check with families ahead of time to see who THEY recognize on Mother’s Day. Not all families have moms. Some will recognize grandma or auntie instead.
- Christian Family Sunday is another way to celebrate. In some churches they take this day to celebrate the entire family, their relationships, accomplishments and faith journeys.
This year, in the midst of COVID 19, Mother’s Day will be entirely different. You may want to consider putting flowers outside of your church building in celebration of this day or invite households to dedicate a hanging basket in memory of their mom. You could also host a virtual tea party following the worship service where you invite attendees to share stories, songs or poems about the inspirational women in their life.
Like everything, you will receive feedback. Some will love the subtle route and others will be disappointed that you didn’t hold a huge party for all the moms. No matter the outcome, I hope this Sunday and all the future Mother’s Days will include laughter, story, prayer, celebration and space to grieve.
Kerry Child, Family and Community Minister, Gilmore Park United Church, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, and member of the Hope4CE Steering Committee