May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.
May Israel have peace!
Today is Mother’s Day in the United States. This means that many of us will get together with our mothers to celebrate their lives and thank them for their faithfulness. Those of us who can’t be with our mothers will probably call on the phone. Did you know more people are on the phone on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year? In addition to thanking our mothers, taking them out for a meal, and giving them a card, many of us will also go to church with them. Mother’s Day has higher church attendance than just about any other Sunday of the year. Some surveys place it right behind Christmas and Easter.
Many churches make a big deal of Mother’s Day. But some churches studiously ignore it. When I first began as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, our tradition was to say almost nothing about Mother’s Day, because “it’s not a Christian holiday.” Indeed, it doesn’t show up in the liturgical calendar, which is still focusing on the celebration of Easter. But, beyond this fact, my church seemed to assume that paying attention to mothers wasn’t really spiritual enough for worship.
But then there are biblical passages like Psalm 128. Though it is actually more of a Father’s Day psalm, this text celebrates the blessing of family, in which mothering is central. The final verse adds this wish prayer: “May you live to enjoy your grandchildren” (128:6; the Hebrew reads literally, “May you see your children’s children”).
Psalm 128, like the whole of Scripture, doesn’t divide life up into the spiritual and unspiritual parts. All of life is a result of God’s good creation. All of life matters to God and should matter to us. All of life’s goodness is worthy of celebration, as we thank God for his manifold gifts. So, it’s appropriate for God’s people to celebrate mothers when they gather for worship, to offer thanks and prayers.
I made it clear to the worship planners at Irvine Pres that I intended to focus my pastoral prayer that morning around the themes of Mother’s Day. I offered thanks for mothers and prayed for them. Recognizing that some in our congregation yearned to be mothers but hadn’t been able to have children, I prayed for them. I also added prayers for mothers who grieved the loss of their children, for mother-child relationships that were strained, and for those whose mothers had gone to be with the Lord.
Does God care about Mother’s Day? I can’t speak with certainty about how God regards our particular national holiday and its expressions. But, on the basis of biblical texts like Psalm 128, we can be sure that God cares about mothers and children. He values marriage and family. He wants to bless us in our families. Thus, it is right to thank him for the gift of family, including our mothers. And it is always right to pray for mothers!
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways have you experienced God’s blessings in your family? Do you tend to think of your family as central to God’s presence and work in your life?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminders of Psalm 128. Thank you for the blessing of family, and for the many gifts you give us through our families.
Today, we thank you for mothers. Thank you for those who gave birth to us and who raised us. Thank you for their sacrifice, patience, and love. Thank you for ways our mothers helped us to see something of your love through their lives.
We pray for mothers today, that you would bless them with all they need to fulfill the calling you have given them. Give them wisdom, strength, and vision. Fill them with your love and goodness. We pray especially for those who are struggling to be faithful mothers, that you will give them an extra measure of your grace today.
We also pray for those for whom this is a difficult day: for children who have lost their mothers, for mothers who have lost children, for mothers and children who are estranged from each other, for those who would like to be mothers but are not, for those whose memories of their mothers are painful, and for so many others. May those who hurt today know that you are with them in their pain. Heal their hearts and give them hope, Lord. Wrap them up in your arms of love.
All praise be to you, O God, for the blessings you pour out upon us. Amen.
Here’s how . . . .
This devotional comes from The High Calling: Everyday Conversations about Work, Life, and God (www.thehighcalling.org). You can read my Daily Reflections there, or sign up to have them sent to your email inbox each day. This website contains lots of encouragement for people who are trying to live out their faith in the workplace. The High Calling is associated with Laity Lodge, where I work.