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Saturday, May 12, 2007

11th Hour Preacher Party: "Mother, May I" Edition

Last night, after a church event, I heard those words I did not want to hear:

"Shall we give out the carnations before church or after?"

The dear ladies asking the question treasure being recognized on Mother's Day, giving me the impression that in their lives of quiet service to family and church this is a *very* special day, an unusual day of appreciation.

Some of you will remember our conversation earlier in the week here. I thought I had a way around it all...until I heard about the flowers.

So, my work today is clearly laid out for me. Find a nice way to make everyone feel okay in the midst of what I had hoped would be a carefully crafted sermon about showing God's mothering love whether or not we are mothers. I guess it fits. But the flowers raise the stakes. (I said after, by the way.)

But right now, I'm thinking coffee and donuts. Can someone keep an ear out for the kids while I go to Tony's and get the molasses glazed? Anyone for Boston Cream? What's on for you today and in the offing for tomorrow? Come and share both goodies and concerns, ideas for Children's sermons and anything else on your minds today!

Revisingly yours,


  1. Wow...

    The children's sermon will be a bitch...pardon my language. I have a little girl (8?) whose mother died a couple of years ago. It's possible that she and her father won't come to church on Sunday. In fact, I have received several e-mails from people saying that church on Mother's Day is too difficult for them.

    Oy. Veh. Passing out flowers is a trick.

  2. Good morning, all! Songbird, blessings as you navigate the carnations issues, the balance neeeded in the service... I'm sure your sermon will be very appropriate.

    Serena posted a great prayer (May 8th post) that seems quite well balanced- at least to me- and I am one of the many for whom this is a hard day. She has graciously agreed that I may use it. Perhaps it can be helpful to others.

    I took a little getaway with a friend and while that was wonderful I left town for 24 hours with only an idea for the focus of my sermon- no illustrations, no meat. And now I have a praise team rehearsal at 9 a.m., a women's luncheon at 12, and I have to preach at 6. When I know where I'm headed I can write a sermon pretty quickly, but... 9:30 to 12 should be adequate. But... I'm not sure where I'm headed. I'm preaching on the Psalm, second in a series of three sermons on worship. The focus this week is "WHY do we worship? To practice for our work in the world, to gain strength and perspective for our work in the world, to be equipped for our witness to the world- so that all the world might become worshippers."

    Any wise thoughts in that direction?

    Children's Sermons ideas?

    I'm a beggar this week.

    And I don't know that I even have any good food to offer. Oatmeal perhaps? A few spelt sesame sticks? I could make you a cup of tea.

    Blessings all in your prep! May the Holy Spirit guide us.

  3. We're doing CWS Blanket Sunday tomorrow, so that will be the subject of my Children's Time. I'll bring in a special quilt given to my daughter, and a Prayer Shawl, and we have one of the plain grey CWS blankets, too. And we'll talk about how it doesn't matter how it looks, a gesture of care is a way of sharing God's all-encompassing love.

  4. I am gone all day today for some family fun and would like to personally thank Disney Channel, Finding Nemo and now Little Einsteins for allowing me to get this sermon done NOW.

    Have fun at the party today folks.

  5. As someone who only a few years ago purposefully planned to be away that weekend (and I was the minister then) there are just too many landmines. We pass out plants at the children's time to all women but still the sentiment is there.

    I have actually counseled some folks to go for a hike or something - do NOT try to brave and come to church. It's just not worth it.

  6. I am in the midst of hosting my parents for about 6 days. Talk about Oy Vey...
    We are celebrating Mother's Day by the traditional giving out of roses to all women-after worship; I just do't have any choice about this.I will use Serena's prayer(if she gives me permission) and my son wants to do the children's time. I have reminded him that there will be folks there for whom mother's day is not an occasion for celebration.
    I am preaching Acts without references to mothers--at least that's my plan.
    Breakfast here is healthy cereal or homemade oatmeal cookies baked by my mom.

  7. oh, the flowers. I'm preaching, but the pastor gives a flower to every women in the congregation, mother or not. I've got to come up with a children's sermon too. In this particular congregation there will be perhaps one or two of about 12 kids who are in church with their mother. Most have grandparents who bring them to church. There is a whole group from a group home for children who have, shall we say, difficulty living at their parents' homes. And yet, one cannot simply not mention mother's day at all. yikes

  8. I did suggest giving flowers to all women, and while this was a new idea, the Deacon in question was willing to try and get more than have been ordered thus far. Apparently they didn't get them last year, so these ladies are excited to have it back, so to speak.

  9. Good morning!

    I missed the Tuesday discussion (this week is a bit of a blur - I can't even remember Tuesday or why I wasn't around, but I think it might've been something like meeting after meeting after meeting).

    DH is preaching tomorrow, on the Revelation text. The only thing we do in the service related to Mother's Day is the prayer, which is my gig this time. I try to cover just about everyone - people for whom this is a difficult day b/c they want to be mothers but aren't, or b/c they have lost a child, or b/c their own mothers are gone, or b/c their relationship with their own mothers was not good, also praying for mothers who watch their children suffer, or who don't have the resources they need to raise their children well; also praying in gratitude not only for mothers but for people who have been like mothers to us; also recognizing God's mother-love, etc., etc., etc. It's actually a prayer I like to do, b/c I make sure to include aspects of motherhood that tthe card companies don't recognize.

    A man in our church buys and hands out flowers to all mothers before and after church. He does it on his own and it's not church-sponsored and everyone knows it. It's an easy way out for us, I suppose.

    Well, a couple of little boys just invaded my study, and since I've got child-duty today, I guess I better go. Blessings on all who are preparing sermons!

  10. we are doing The Day only in the prayers. Which I am praying. Me, motherless daughter. I'm sure that will be the easiest thing ever. The text is John 5, the theme is about sacrificing your own chance to get ahead in order to help someone else (as mothers often do)...there's a baptism at one of the services.

    Children's Time that won't make me cry, anyone? anyone?

  11. The most our church does about Mother's day is a happy Mother's day during the announcement and I think I have heard a prayer for Mothers.

    Mother's Day - I can't help but think of the woman in our congregation who has had two eptopic(sp) pregnancies and has a mother who has not responsive due to an illness years ago.

  12. Morning, friends.

    The Day will be addressed in the prayer. I am glad to be in a church that doesn't do the flowers thing.

    I'm trying to get this thing pounded out by the time Wondergirl leaves for her overnight, so that spouse and I can have some quality time together. We might even see an early movie, something we haven't done in about six months.

    I'm fresh out of ideas for children's time, though. Don't really expect too many in church tomorrow, but if there is one, I'd better be prepared.

  13. Oh Songbird,
    What a struggle.
    I found out they are handing out carnations too at my church.
    Prayers for all who Mother's day is hard for them.
    I have sigh, just plain ole Krispy Kream Doghnuts to offer. Nothing special.

    We have a busy day with ball games, picture taking of the teams, and angel food ministries.

    I have worked some on my sermon, but have not been well enough to really finish it. My head has been full of sinus gunk. Today it seems better. Wish everyone well today.
    I'll check back.

    I so remember the difficult mother days for me as motherless and one who was not resolved with her own mother.

  14. I try to balance the unmissable nature of what remains a church festival, Mothering Sunday (Lent 4) here in UK with the many many hurts that the day brings out - talk about God as Mother...about all those, of either gender, who mother about failures in my own mothering, the way I don't live up to the media ideal of motherhood...
    I also try to have a station somewhere in church where people can light candles in memory of their mums (so that's me), or of lost babes (me again), or to mark broken relationships (AND again) or anything else that is weighing them down that day. This seems to help ALOT.

    Meanwhile, since there's nothing about mothers on our agenda here, praise be, I was going to preach on Christian Aid Week, which starts tomorrow, but the readings for Evensong include darling darling Zephaniah 3, so perhaps I'll talk about the ways in which, despite all, we make God sing for joy. That has to be one of my favourite bits of Scripture...though can I produce a whole sermon?? Hmmmn..

    LCM was away last night, so the boys and I had lovely leisurely breakfast and I have some almond croissants and a fresh pot of coffee to share. Mothers Union service shortly, so I ought to try and write something now! Help!!

  15. I'm filling in for a priest on vacation so whatever happens it will be the complete tradition of the parish. I'm just a-preachin' the gospel of Love (John 14)

  16. I have no sermon and on vague a teaching on Acts, connect it to the developing church through the incorporation of Gentiles (just as they are) and how tough that was for early church. The things we face these days are difficult too, but if we follow Acts we have a model for great hospitality not conformity. I'll connect it to the Gospel, the Advocate (or in the Message, the "Friend") whom we have been given who will be there with us to help us be the people, the church, God desires of us.

    Not very exciting. oh well. I'm not feeling too excited these days.

    Mother's Day. I will mention it in the announcements (A blessed Mother's Day to all of us, those of us who have mothers and to those of us who are mothers. May you spend it with family or friends in a way that brings you joy)....and the men of the parish will host the coffee hour.

  17. This is a first for me...venturing off lectionary two weeks in a row! But, we have a baptism tomorrow (my first!), and I am preaching Matthew 3:13-17 - I'll try to post what I have later. I'm actually in good shape this morning. I wanted to clear today as much as possible so that I could pack up my china cabinet! We will be moving closer to the church this summer, and painters and such will infiltrate our house soon.

  18. So the worship committee decided not to do carnations this year. The phone just rang with another session member who is at the florist picking them up because "it's just not mother's day without them." Sigh. We have many for whom this day is hard for many reasons
    (including a youth group member and her kindergarden sister who are celebrating the second mother's day without their mom who died of cancer.). I am preaching Acts and Lydia, and am shooting for something about conversion, but am pretty vague beyond that. We are preparing for pentecos with a fill in the blank question each week about the Holy Spirit. Answers are written on a red strip of paper and we are making a chain to hang on Pentecost. This week's question is "we are changed by the Holy Spirit when..." But I too need a children's sermon -- preferably not having to do with mothers.

  19. After two glorious days 'away' celebrating my fifth wedding anniversary, I'm back. I find I have five pages of notes, but no sermon! I, too, am preaching on Lydia. The SP didn't want to preach on Mother's Day so I'm preaching at the two traditional services.

    Hospitality seems to be my theme. At this point in my life I am not a (biological) mother ~ by choice. My prayers go to all who struggle with this day. I hope to craft a sermon that honors the contribution of women without focusing too heavily on the 'mother' thing.

    And blessings to all preachers who are mothers and have to 'work' on Mother's Day!

  20. Okay. I am exactly 700 words into this thing (exactly 700--how often does that happen?).

    So far I have not "stepped off the front porch" as my preaching mentor would say. This does not look good for a day in which people are going to fly out of church after 60 minutes to go to brunch.

    We are taking in five new adult members--good ones--and I am preaching John 5, the healing at Bethsaida. I talk a lot about my childhood experiences of joining a church--basically you just showed up and you were in. The guy by the pool showed up for 38 years--every day. But it wasn't the pool in the end that healed him, but God's grace.

    Can't wait to see how I end up there. If I do, that is.

  21. i'm preaching john's "do you want to be made well?" with no mention of mother's day. the other pastors may mention something in their prayers, but they know how hard it is for some (most?) people. i also have a sunday school lesson, youth sunday next week, and revision of our insane vbs curriculum to do, so it's going to be a busy day. i have diet dr. pepper to share - caffeine, anyone?

  22. Still preaching Lydia ... will navigate the Mother's Day maze in the prayer time.

    What d'you suppose would happen to the flower tradition in our churches if women for whom this day is painful and women for whom this day is a joy sat down together in the next few weeks and had a heart to heart ...?

  23. Serena's prayer is a good one ... covers so many bases. Thank you for sharing it.

    Cheesehead's observation about the guy showing up at the pool for 38 years, but God's grace healing him instead of the pool is intriguing.

  24. biI am wondering who does and does not take the flowers. I won't take one because it reminds me of what I have yet to do -- namely marriage and kids, both of which I want. There are women who leave them because they remind them of daughters who are far away or absent. I was considering having the kids pass them out during children's time to all women (idea borrowed form will smama), but as I try to write it, it opens too many wounds for this particualr congregation. is simply leaving them in the back and not talking about it an OK thing to do? yes, complete and total avoidance of the issue, but will it maybe make it easier for those who want to leave the flowers do so?

    I did find Julia Howe's original proclaimation, which had to do with peace - -may find a way to use it to talk about the original meaning of the day and tie it to the john text.

  25. Well, I've written TWO sermons this week, as I'm going to be out of town all next week, and next Sunday is my birthday. My this-week's sermon is about Lydia...the slightly shaky idea that Paul and Silas thought they were bringing God/good news to Philippi, but found Lydia, who already knew God and welcomed their good news as her own. When we think of our own efforts at mission/evangelism, we are called to keep our eyes open for where God already is at work. It still needs some help, I think.

    M's day in the prayer, I guess. The secretary wanted a special Mother's Day bulletin cover, but I vetoed that. Not sure what the traditions are here yet; I guess I'll find out tomorrow!

    The season's first peaches are here--I'll gladly share.

  26. Mornin' all ... Permission granted to use the prayer, Quaker Pastor ... and anyone else who so desires. RPS sent a copy of his bulletin, using it as a responsive prayer ... very nice. You, and all those who are hurting on this "blessed holiday" are in my prayers.

  27. preaching tomorrow for the first time in several months as the only seminarian that serves with four priests (so they let me off the hook during semester work) - have done the exegesis for the John 14 - like what I have, but it feels wrong to not say ANYTHING about Mother's day - two of the priests have lost wives this year (and the children may be there), my own mom and grandmother may be there (with whom I have normal dysfunctional relationships), and I now have two sons after years of infertility, etc.

    Here's my question - Is Mother's Day a truly happy and freeing event for ANYONE? Is there anyone for whom this day is not difficult on some level? If it is a Universal cause of distress, should we name it as such, possibly freeing it from the lie of Hallmark (or whomever, I have nothing against Hallmark per se)? Should I name the elephant in the middle of the room? I know the expectation from the priests I work with are that I will address Mother's day - being the only female on staff... I am brave enough to name it I think - but should I?

  28. I'm home again after a series of tasks and errands, including the dog park, the bakery and the yarn store. Okay, two yarn stores. Why not tell the truth?
    I now hate the title of my sermon, because I fear it may be limiting.
    (It's not unusual for me to feel this way on Saturday around noon.)
    I also have to sketch out the Children's Sunday service, to give something to the Christian Ed Director tomorrow. So, a little work this afternoon. I am seated next to an open window with a springtime view. I'm not sure if that helps or hurts.
    How's it going out there, friends?

  29. Okay. I have a version of the sermon. I'll probably tweak it later tonight, but at least there is something somewhat preachable on paper.

    I haven't had anything but coffee yet, so I think next stop is lunch. I think I'm going to try to whip together some pad thai.

    Anybody want any?

  30. we don't pass out flowers. We have given people the opportunity to purchase one for a mother or mother-figure in their lives.

    I also don't have a "carefully crafted sermon". (yet) I have always had trouble getting a sermon to do too many things...also I always think it would be cool to have a "god is like a mother..." type sermon, but I also think that there are different kinds of mothers...I don't like the stereotypable all-moms are... type of thing.

    I have also had the situation that tripp hudgins describes... mom actually died in heart surgery, leaving young dad and two little kids. All these things are mine fields.

    my husband also notes that everyone falls all over mother's day and father's day doesn't get much of anything.

  31. Some paragraphs have been written. A few things down that make sense... Thank you, God!

    Elastigirl... I say name it! I did and it looks good on paper, at least. How can we not name it when we know the pain that some people in our community feel? Naming the pain doesn't take away the joy of others.

    Now I am off for a 5 hour Confirmation Service Project. We will be unloading several truck loads of food donations at the food pantry. (And when I say trucks, I mean the 18 wheeler kind)

    The sermon will have to wait until later for completion. Powerbar, anyone?

  32. children's message ideas... my basic "get mother's day into the service without preaching about it" children's message is to have kids come up with something their mother does that they give thanks for. One year one girl said, "making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches." The prayer then always says "thank god for mothers and fathers these things for us... " One year I invited all those who had come with their mother... including adults... sort of an inclusive children's message... and they told something they wanted to say "thank you about..." these aren't so great, I know...and not so scriptural. but there you go

  33. Elastigirl, what makes Mother's Day a challenge is --how do you celebrate the joys of Motherhood while at the same time acknowledging sorrows and pain associated with the day. How can the church respond pastorally in worship to people who are experiencing all of these things?

    Name Mother's Day by all means ... but don't focus on one side to the exclusion of the other. That's a tall order, isn't it?

    Y' know how many churches often have a Blue Christmas service late in advent? What if we picked a Sunday in between M-Day and F-day and held a similar service for those for whom those two holidays are difficult? But I dunno what it would be called ...

  34. Sermon is written, rough draft. I actually ended up connecting the call of the Spirit to stand and walk and the peace of Christ with our new ministry working with resettling refugee families. I'm calling this new ministry, which involves a consortium of churches warehousing items to furnish an apartment, ie one church warehouses kitchen items, another bedroom, etc, I am thinking about calling this ministry Church Pantries for Refugees (CPR). So then I can connect it in the sermon with healing and new life for these refugess. As the volunteer Episcopal Migration Ministries Diocesan Program Liaison it only seems right that I preach and teach on this ministry that I am actively developing....

    Still, the sermon itself needs lots of work to make it all hang together.

  35. As an involuntarily childless woman I always hated Mother's day, but my congregation has taught me to value it. We really celebrate Women's Day - giving carnations to every female. It is the opinion of the ladies who do these things that all women should be celebrated on this day. And we take up a special collection for women's ministries. I love my church!

    I think that the sermon will be about the "mothers" of the church in Acts - espcially Lydia, but also Dorcas and all those other marvelous women who helped grow the early church and continue to do so. Of course, it's early yet.

  36. OK
    Total rethink.
    the other passage I have on offer is the Great Commission, which does, after all, connect with Christian Aid week without too much here I go.
    But only about an hour to write it in, as we're out tonight..
    Thank the Lord it's not due to be preached till tomorrow evening, though we do have Christian Aid lunch cooked by Youth Group after the 10.00...oh help....panic....

  37. Dona - thank you for those words - i think that was the thought I needed for this - the world at large would have us celebrate this day with rose-colored glasses and that brings us into conflict with our own life experiences of having and being mothers who are not perfect, or not being able to be mothers, or of having mothers who have died - all of which are experience of pain, not celebration.

    Thank you

  38. I think the trick is to triangulate with the congregation against the holiday, to separate our own relationship with Mom, good or bad, from our ministry in this moment. I preached on Mother's Day a second time during seminary in a way so subtle that people who heard the sermon and didn't know me well had NO idea whether I had a good relationship with my mother; either way they felt named and respected. (Wish I still had *that* sermon...)
    It's tricky; I don't find myself in that balanced a place every year! We have to be conscious of the axe we feel like grinding ourselves, and then be sure to leave it behind before we get in the pulpit.

  39. Hi folks,
    My sermon is done. I had a burial service this morning and still have two renewal of wedding vows ceremonies to do today. Busy one!

    I am preaching Lydia and only approaching Mother's day obliquely in the prayers of the people.

    I struggle with Mother's day. My mom died fifteen years ago, and for various reasons, I have always ended up conducting worship on Mother's day with zero members of my family present. It's the one day i feel kind of lonely in church.

    I enjoy celebrating a meal with my Mother in law later in teh day, but during worship, I prefer to avoid it altogether.

    Also, we have a younger congregation (30s to mid 40s) and I know of several folks with fertility and other issues surrounding motherhood. In addition, one of our matriarchs is preparing to bury her 40-something son this coming week.

    Sensitivity is clearly on my menu for tomorrow.

  40. Rev Maria - I love that idea of giving carnations to all of the women in church. We don't do the carnation thing, but if I did, I would want every woman to have one.

  41. Anybody considering a nap? I think I might need one. Napping is okay, right?

  42. Napping is great ...

    DH and I are going dancing at a party at a friend's. I have to go shower.

  43. Back to it now after lunch - Subway Cookies anyone? I brought chocolate chip & sugar cookies.

    I'll see how it all fits together - in the final write -

  44. No food of my own, but I'm right across from a really great pizza joint and could order slices for folks...

    Thank you all for making me really think about Mother's Day for the first time. I think I must be one of the very few who has no hangups about it, which made it hard for me to see that others would...

  45. A nap sounds glorious, Songbird. Personally though, I need to get something done and hammered out in a draft before I can take a break. Angel Food day here means my sermon-writing day is shortened.

    I'm in the "pray first" part of my series on the synod mission statement, and I found Esperanza's comment about finding God already at work in Lydia really helpful. How often do we pray for something to happen, and then discover that God was already doing that--in a totally different way?

    Of course, now I have all kinds of other ideas swirling around in my head...Lydia as a "church mother" own great-grandmother Lydia, whom I was named for...hmm...

  46. Serena,
    Thanks for letting us use your prayer...this is the second week RGBP has saved my skin for worship.
    You all ROCK!
    I'm gonna be fleshing sermon out in the morning EARLY -- 4ish. I know it will be quiet here then..
    peace out!

  47. semfem--glad I could help. Your idea sounds great.

    songbird--I just woke up from a little nap on the couch. I highly recommend naps.

    And yes to the slice of pizza and cookies. I love this virtual food thing.

  48. Kathryn: I love the idea of a candle station for people struggling with all the various kinds of mother grief. What a great way to honor the hard side without pretending the day isn't happening everywhere else or failing to honor what is a holy, amazing Godlike ministry that is dissed and dismissed by both culture and church in terms of real justice, though given some sentimental lip service at times.

    Elastigirl: I had a very challenging relationship with my Mom, and my MIL, and also lost my first daughter as a toddler. And though there have been some hard times I absolutely love Mother's Day as a holy feast celebrating the love of God my Mother and honoring my vocation as mother, which so rarely happens. My husband makes a point of honoring it this way as I do for him on Father's Day.

    I have been somewhat distressed to hear so many negative comments about the day and the concept of honoring it in church this week. The Catholic tradition doesn't make a big deal at church, hand out flowers much, etc. so I am not reacting against past bad experiences some may have had. But when mothers and their children make up most of the country's and world's poor, the non sentimental courage and holiness of that vocation is almost completely ignored in church and society, God as Mother is absent or virtually so from our liturgies and preaching while God the Father is omnipresent to a greater or lesser degree, women's life-giving bleeding birthing nursing bodies are historically deemed impure by Christianity I am convinced the way to deal with painful/negative implications is honesty and creativity, not pretending it isn't happening or dissing the brave and amazing sacrifice and joy of physical motherhood, birth and nursing or mothering work of all sorts. It is part of people's experience and can be used well, just as we often incorporate elements of other cultural celebrations and issues into our liturgy.

    Not my issue for preaching since I will celebrate mass for a couple friends here at the conference tonight and have an informal dialogue. Off to rest up a bit--it's been great but exhausting and a cold is threatening and crack open those scriptures to prep a bit (this was a last minute, joyous plan hatched at breakfast).

    Healing blessings for all preaching and listening who find this day a struggle.

  49. mother laura -- it's good to hear your perspective. I'm not a physical mother, but always wanted to be, so perhaps that's behind some of the confusion. I also have a neice whose mother has basically abandoned her due to drug addiction, etc. My stepsons are spending the day with their real mom, which is natural, but it feels like there is no space for what I do. I try hard not to be a rival or a substitute but just a caring presence in their lives. Tomorrow we honor (as always) a God who is not afraid to get down into the physical reality of our lives... which means we can name all aspects of our human life, including parenting, however imperfect. I'm having a granola bar, and then off to our 5:00 Saturday service. Peace.

  50. kristabeth and mtr. laura - thanks for your postings - all of this dialogue is invaluable to me, being a newbie at this - I am blessed to have found you all and to be able to utilize your voices as I write. You are all good "mothers" as you nurture me!!

    There was a book I read as a young teenager that utilized the phrasing "mother pie" to explain how all of the women in our lives (and I would expand it to men also) who nuture us each from a piece of the mother pie - no one person is capable of being all of the pieces, so we must search out the other pieces and allow others to be those for us. It means that we also can only be one of the pieces for our own children - speaks well of living in and encouraging community.

  51. last year I was appalled at the preaching at my parish which ignored completely that some have difficult mother stories and some have loss,etc. This year I join the community of folks who just can't bear to be there. God bless all you mothering pastors and ministers.

  52. Surely it's dinnertime now, isn't it? What's on the menu?
    I'm groggy from a very fine nap and need to snap back to work!

  53. songbird-I'm hoping that K has decided to order pizza. There's a new place nearby with a thin-crust veggie pizza that's to die for.

    Everyone- Thanks. I must have been insane to agree to preach on Mother's Day. Forty-one year old childless lesbian, what was I thinking? But you've all really helped!

    Since I'm only just starting now, could be challenging. Then again, I've been asked to keep it short because our Prayers of the People are a long-ish litany that sounds a bit like Serena's and which will include various flowers to represent various women. We're also doing Faith in Pink Sunday. Breast Cancer awareness, Mother's Day and Lydia...hmmmm..

    As of now, I'm thinking of a bit of teaching myself, about images of God as mother, springing off a mention of ++KJS's sermon that got her in so much trouble with the conservatives.

  54. Marie, is there anything she could do that *wouldn't* get her in trouble with conservatives?
    We're going to have some sushi, and then it's back to work for me, fleshing out to outlined paragraphs, at which point my work may be complete!
    Many interesting points have been raised here today. I hope we can all learn from one another.

  55. I am back from my Confirmation Service project. We unloaded 20,000 pounds of food (or more), sorted, and put it away in the food pantry. I'm exhausted. I also found out that my SP won't participating in worship at all tomorrow because of a bad cold. That means I have to get ready for a Children's Sermon and Prayer Time that he was going to do!

    Good thing I have a few paragraphs down and something that makes a little sense. I imagine I will be up late tonight, though. Hopefully I'll have some company :>)

    I'll have a slice of pizza. I like mine with Ham and Green Pepper, if that's not too much to ask. I have some salad to share.

  56. Hi all, I am sorry I have been gone all day. But I am back to ask for takey outey orders? Anyone need anything?

    My sermon is done, I say done. Children's sermon almost. Praying for all my buds who are working away.

  57. (((Christine)))
    I think the trouble is the number of sermons that have been preached through the years idealizing motherhood as a certain set of standards (Proverbs 31, anyone?) that "are" the ideal for womanhood. In some traditions the idealizing is used to limit women to one role. And it's very unlikely that God as Mother has any part in those celebrations of Mother's Day.
    The conflicting viewpoints and conflicted feelings expressed here today exemplify the need to be aware of your context in preaching. I'm still learning mine, and I really learned something from my carnation ladies last night.

  58. Hey all... artichokes being steamed as we speak, anyone want a few leaves!

    Thanks to a very helpful friend a sermon came together rather quickly this morning and the first preaching of it an hour ago went smoothly, praise the Lord!

    I think the wrestling happening here is faithful. Thanks for all the honest sharing.

    After the fifth time I was asked today if I would be heading home after church to be with my mother I decided to call her and ask if this was an expectation of hers- fortunately it is not. I am grateful for her. I have a present at the ready, but... a quiet Sunday afternoon and then a celebratory dinner for a parishioner graduating from college is much to be preferred to three more hours in the car.

    Blessings to all still writing,editing, prepping in any way. (Especially you Krista Beth with your surprise extra responsibilities!)

  59. It seems it will be carnations for us as well.

    But I am not preaching about mothers. I am preaching about unity, from Eph. 4. I'm not usually a big fan of "The Message" for sermons, but it is what I'm using tomorrow. Man, does it tell it like it is. And since the emphasis is unity, heading in the same direction, not all over the place, supporting, loving and speaking truth to one another, I decided to use a clip from The Wizard of Oz.

    So now I'm settling down to watch, looking for just the right scene.


  60. Ok back after a long day. Had to drive two hours (one hour each way) to drop off something my daughter forgot (medicine for one of the horses she is caring for)...

    home made grilled yellow tail tuna with garlic and cheese stuffed tortelini (sp)in a tomatoe cheese sauce for dinner.

    Still need to finish my sermon. sigh.

    Still not going to do much about Mother's Day in the worship, except at the announcements. I appreciate and agree with Mthr Laura and the various comments here about the need to be both sensitive to pain and honor women/mother/God. I try to do this every Sunday by using inclusive language in the liturgy, including a regular dose of mother/God imagery along with the usual male/God language. Not to mention the unspoken image conveyed by my presence as priest and rector (senior pastor) and woman. I care for people and teach and consecrate the sacraments. As woman I am the image of God and the image of Christ and the image of woman/mother to the people in the congregation. I am everything that my male/father/priest counterparts have been for generations. I hope, as I am sure my colleagues do, by being woman and priest to bring wholeness to a broken world and to teach my parish to do the same, male and female....and to do this every day.

  61. A meditation--stop by and say hi...

  62. Sharing for the first time . . . just discovered this wonderful blog. Thanks for the Mother's Day discussion—have mixed feelings myself as I love being a mom (and now a new grandma—yipes, I'm not old enough to be a grandma!) but have always seen Mother's Day as totally secular.

    We are giving away roses—pink and yellow, NOT red and white—to all the women. Just decided to put them all in a big vase on the altar as a tribute to all who "mother" us. I'll carry it out after church so that women can take them home if they wish. (What do they do with them during the service anyway?) We are also giving a gift to people who have "mothered" the church—men as well as women.

    Writing on Acts and Revelation—something having to do with gathering at the river. (Shall we?)

  63. Those who will be up late--consider me your companion tonight. I just finished an outline (albeit a very full outline, but not a finished draft).

    Man! I have a lot to say, but need to be careful to not ramble on about prayer in general. My two basic points from the Lydia story (thanks to Esperanza and the Interpretation commentary) are:
    1. Prayer surprises us.
    2. Prayer connects us.

    Kind of glad I'm not going to tackle the Mother's Day thing this year.

  64. watching kill bill with my husband while reworking my "do you want to be made well?" sermon from lent-focused to's been one of those weeks. and youth sunday next sunday...oy. as always, plenty of diet dr. pepper to go around!

  65. Anybody for ice cream? I have some WW's ice cream. My kids love it, can you believe it? Zach's team won their game, and sadly the girl's did not. But they are playing better. It is hot as hades here, and promises to be more so tomorrow.

    I with you all in the struggle of women, mothers, motherless women, etc. Its difficult. Hang in there you late nighters.

  66. Just popping back in to see what you folks are up to. Great discussions you've been having about Mother's Day. Blessings on all of you - whether you are preaching, leading, listening, or staying home.

  67. mompriest - thanks for the thoughts - that may also be part of the dilemma for me - I am the only female around the altar on any given Sunday in a parish and diocese that does not use inclusive language - so all of this feels risky and dangerous in some way - I could just be the good girl and preach the sermon I am supposed to about being a good mom and all that entails - but I am preaching on the John 14 gospel, bringing it around to the fact that in John, Jesus is building a new family, promising us that we will not be left as orphans (this is straight out of the Women's Bile Commentary) - and then just a very few words about Mother's Day and ending with Serena's prayer (thank you!!) -

    You all inspire me with your confidence - I don't feel quite so alone and isolated as a female - and I know MB will be praying for me as I preach tomorrow -

  68. I'm back from a loooong day away. I haven't even looked at the sermon that I think is done. It's on excerpts from Song of Solomon and contains a reference to Jesus as our lover.

    Should be a fun Sunday!

  69. elastigirl, my first Mothers Day as ordained I served as Curate in a church that was very male. Even my female colleague was male in her essence. No inclusive language. I preached a sermon that day that spoke about good mothers and not so good mothers. Later I was "scolded" for bringing up the idea of not good mothers on Mothers Day. My response, "Not everyone has a good experience with mothers..." yeesh. Here was this highly respected priest who in many ways was really clueless. I paid a heavy price there. But also, I learned a lot about trusting myself and my voice.

    So. I hope you have a good experience tomorrow. But even if your colleagues do not get it, trust yourself and stand strong! Some day you will get to use your voice in a rich, full, and complete way. And these experiences will be your guide.

  70. AND elastigirl, you never know who will be hearing that needs to be told it is okay to feel the way they are feeling.

    I deem my sermon "good enough" - g'night.

  71. I'm done. I'm not thinking about it any more! My sermon is more about Lydia and baptism and the wide wide family of God (not the exclusive family in-group), but at the end I talk about mother's day a little. The title is Children of God everywhere... and in Christ no one is childless and no one is an orphan, for there are children of God everywhere, just waiting to be recognized and embraced and welcomed.

  72. I finally have a Children's Time plan, so it's off to bed for me...happy sleeping/happy Sunday, all!

    (the plan, in a nutshell: "have you ever been really sick? Who took care of you? Today we're going to hear a story about a man who was very sick for a long time, but no one was willing to take care of him because they were too busy taking care of themselves. But Jesus came and healed the man, because he loved him. Jesus also loves you and takes care of you." the end. or something.)

  73. Diane and Teri, sounds good!
    I'm up later than usual, as my husband is expected any minute after working out of town for the past 12 weeks. I'm going to log off and wait for him.
    Last one here get the lights?

  74. I'm here and can get the lights. Or Krista Beth will. Or someone else. But we're/I'm burning the midnight oil, no worries.

    Songbird, how sweet of you to wait up.

    Congrats all who are done and now sleeping (or those in other time zones who are about to get up).

  75. Oh, and I've got a pot of raspberry Earl Grey and some chocolate for the late-night bunch.

  76. Ugh. I'm finally finished. Hope everyone else out there is finished, too.

    Blessings on everyone's proclamation and worship today and tomorrow.

  77. Thanks, semfem! Wow, it's morning here. I stayed up a good bit later than usual, and I suspect a strong cup of coffee will be in my immediate future.
    Bless you all as you preach today.

  78. Yeah - my sermon was still preachable even in the morning light!

    May everyone have a blessed morning, Teri you will be on my heart today.

  79. Elastigirl: Many many prayers! How important it will be for them to hear your voice. Can you post your sermon for us?

    Songbird: You are so right about God the Mother not being present in the traditional stuff, as well as the restriction of women by the sentimental rhetoric. Hope I didn't sound naive or that I thought that stuff was part of the traditional Protestant observance. I just figure it's an opportunity to subvert that stuff carefully and lovingly and creatively and that that might do more to take it on all that problematic stuff in the end than avoiding the topic....

    Mompriest--so good to hear about your consistent inclusivizing, which can be hard for those of us in liturgical denominations with lots of prescribed prayers. Oh how I love EOW and NZPB and I can't wait to snag the St. Helena Breviary...And your reflections on how we as female priests/Mothers embody that image for people.

    I am so sorry to hear about the feedback at that one place. Yikes! I figure one ideal way to combine the God as mother and ambivalence of our own being/having imperfect mothers, infertility/bereavement, etc. is to gently point out the positives and negatives of human mothering and being mothered and that the fullest most consoling healing nurturing love comes from the one perfect Mother. And as a mother of a dead child (the week of Mother's Day, in fact) I always appreciated feeling and naming and hearing the grief and my ongoing motherhood named rather than avoidance....But if you can't name the realities you can't go anywhere with that. What a bozo, and how good you're the rector now and will someday have a curate to mentor :-).

    I may end up talking a little bit about the Spirit as Mother after all this morning, and probably using one of those lovely eucharistic prayers from Enriching our Worship. I had two friends coming for mass last night but one didn't make it back on campus in time so we're doing it this morning. And it's both Mother's Day itself and she is more feminist than the other. They're both progressive, prayerful RCs but last night's was an art historian rather than a theologian like this morning's, and more into women priests than inclusive language and images. In fact I think the fact that I did the mass absolutely by the book made it especially meaningful and real for her as someone who loves the liturgy and her community and is also very aware of how truly traditional this is because of historical study about ordained women in the early church. She said after "It felt just like any other mass, except your voice is higher."

  80. thanks WS--I can use the thoughts/prayers today.

    happy sunday to all!! and many prayers for holy sunday naps later....especially for those of you who were up late!

  81. Sunday morning, the sermon is finished - still 2 hours before I have to get to the church. I've posted it here

    Blessings on all who speak and listen today.

  82. read how it was done in one church in Finland today

    such affirmation for all women!

    Praise God!

  83. I have posted my sermon here:
    It went well - thank you all for your words of wisdom - I am blessed to have found you all - if you read the post after teh sermon you will see that the day did not go as planned, but I think it was ultimately better!

  84. The most beautiful part of our service had to be during the prayer time. I invited people to speak the name of someone who had shown them God's mothering love. Their voices, some distinct and others murmured, overlapped in such beauty that when it was time to move on, I could hardly speak myself.
    We ended up with a bountiful number of carnations to hand out, and at the Benediction, I asked the congregation to use the term "mother" very loosely when deciding to take one. I saw all sorts of people leaving with a smile and a flower.

  85. Songbird, I love your idea and will use it when I am in "my own" parish again. It sounds like it was a beautiful and healing day.

  86. Songbird, I am glad I came back to read this. Good idea. I will use it next time as well. I encourage people to take them to someone they thought of as mothering them. Like your prayer idea too.

    For the children's moment, I did it on the Nothing but Nets campaign. I made a diorama using my kids Barbie Dolls and babies, and one Indian doll. I talked about how Mothers all over the world care for their children and babies, but that in Africa especially they are losing their children to malaria. Showed them a picture of the mosquito. Then put a net over the diorama and explained how we could save those children's lives with the bed nets. I know, I was shamelessly inducing guilt. I hope it works. Then we prayed for all the moms of the world.


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