This Sunday was the first time I’ve been given an opportunity to lead a Mother’s Day service on my own. Normally in my main parish church we have a Family Service on the 4th Sunday of the month, but it tends to be a Eucharist. This month we had a non-Eucharistic family service, which meant that I had more freedom to play around with the liturgy. I put together a simple service based on the Church of England Mothering Sunday liturgy. The full text is below but the sheets I gave out were a condensed form and in A5.
When I got to church I discovered that the Sunday School leader hadn’t expected it to be a full family service, and had planned the Sunday School activities as making the bunches of daffodils to give to the mums later in the service. As I had planned the service based on the assumption that it would be full of children, this was slightly annoying. So we went to the back up plan where the children would go out, come back in for the talk, and then go back out until it was time to give the flowers out. This meant that the adults were left with a simpler liturgy than they would have had normally, but no one seemed too upset.
So we sang the opening hymn and the kids went out, then got on with the confession, absolution (‘us’ form), and the collect and readings, and then the kids came back in for the talk. That was actually quite useful in the end, as it gave me time to re-set up the projector and the screen for the video I was using. I had initially planned to just put the screen up and leave the projector on, but I realised that people at the back of church were being blinded so I had to turn the whole lot off. Fortunately it doesn’t take too long to put back on again. The gospel reading we’d had was Jesus on the cross saying to his favourite disciple “here is your mother”, and to his mother, “here is your son”. So I started off just explaining where we were in Lent, and that at this point we’ve skipped Palm Sunday and Good Friday and gone straight to Jesus on the cross. He’s up there, and in a lot of pain, but despite of that, he realised that it was important to make sure his mother was looked after when he had gone. I used that link to talk about what was so important about his mother, and so why are our mothers important.
During the week I’d put together a film using Windows Live Movie Maker of a number of people from my congregations, (some toddlers and some grown ups and a couple of my friends), just saying why they love their mums. The toddlers had things like “because she brushes my hair”, “because she gives me cake”, “when she makes my lunches at nursery”. Some of the older children went a bit further with “when I’m poorly she makes me feel better”, “she makes me delicious dinners”. The adults had more interesting stories to tell, talking about their mothers unconditional love for them, how they used to sew their clothes when they were young, how they were always there for them, how they let them get on and make their own messes but are always there to pick them up afterwards, and even because during the war they sacrificed their clothes vouchers to because their children were rough on their clothes.
Having a range of ages worked really well because children like watching other children, the younger mums could relate to what the children were saying, and the older members of the congregation connected with the stories the adults were telling about their mums. I put some background music in of an instrumental version of ‘How deep the Father’s love for us’, to give a bit of continuity throughout the film.
After that the kids went back into Sunday School to finish off what they were doing, and we had the offertory hymn, reduced creed, and the prayers. Since being involved with Steve’s kids, and having friends who are unable to have children, or have had difficult relationships with their mother, I’ve become a lot more aware of the need to be sensitive during the service. The prayers included not just Mothers, but other people who care for children including step-parents, foster-parents, grandparents, other relatives, brothers and sisters; but they also included people who have difficult family lives, who are longing for children but unable to have them; as well as those for whom Mother’s Day is difficult because of their relationships with their own mothers, or because they’ve lost mothers. There were enough mother’s there that it did need to be focused on Mother’s Day, but I was aware of enough other situations within the congregation to try and include them as well.
After the prayers the children came back in with the flowers, which they’d made little cones for with a reason they love their mums written on, so they went and gave them to their mums. In churches I’ve been to in the past, they’ve made a surplus amount of bunches and have given them out to all the ladies present, so you don’t end up with people being left out. This didn’t happen on Sunday, which I was slightly concerned about, but no-one commented so it might just be something to think about next year. I asked all the mums to stand, even if their children were grown up or not in church, and we all prayed the prayer for mothers, before moving into the final blessing and hymn. I think that part was ok in the congregation I had. Some of the older ladies needed encouragement to stand, and there were a couple of dads there without the mums, however they weren’t single dads, and we had already prayed for all who care for children, so I don’t think there was any offence taken there.
Most people stayed after the service for tea and Simnel cake, so I think it probably went quite well. I’d already had a service that morning, but as there weren’t any children, or even any men there, I’d borrowed an idea from my mother and preached about shoes; how we wear shoes for different roles, but should be bringing all those roles to church, then talking about what shoes God wears, and how he wears the same shoes as us as he accompanies us through everyday life. Not very mothers-day related, but feminine enough to pass it off. After that I was pretty knackered, so went home and didn’t do much else for the rest of the day.
I hope the rest of you had a lovely Mother’s Day, whether you were able to spend it with your mothers/children or not x