Psalm 23 – The Lord is my Grandma

Grandma, great and mighty God…                                                                                    

you take care of me and everything I need.

You make me rest in the cool, green grass                                                                          

because grass is good for my eyes, and good for my soul.

You take me where the water is still and quiet,                                                      

where the waters soak up the chaos of the streams of life.

You bring me back to life, filling in the gaps and chips and fissures of from life.                                                                                                      

You lead me in ways that are right so that I will be a credit to you.

Even though crevasses and ravines want to claim me,                                                               

I am not afraid because I am not alone.                                                                                               

Grandma, you are with me. Your crook guides and re-directs me.                                                         

Your walking stick, which aids and supports me, gives me comfort.

Grandma, you always cook for me.                                                                                        Y

you set a fine table no matter who is there—                                                                       

even if people who don’t like me—or whom I don’t like–come over.  

Grandma, you value me and praise me.                                                                                   

You cover me with so much love that it pours everywhere,                                                        

splashing on everyone there and even back onto you.

You hold my life like it’s precious.                                                                                      

You hold my life like it’s good.                                                                                                               

You hold my life like it’s beautiful.

Because you treasure my life, I will treasure my life too.                                                              

I will live every day as a blessed day spent at your house.                                     

Living forever in your house—and eating at your table–is heaven for me.

Thank you for being my great, and good, grandma.

Feel free to use/share with credit to Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (pronounced Gaatle)

Living By Faith

Galatians 1:13-17, 2:11-21

Luke 18:9-14

Matthew 14:22-33

Psalm 143

Psalm 139

Note: This year in the USA it is Mother’s day which can be controversial in church. These verses hint at, but do not necessitate Mother’s Day, there is a link to a specific Mother’s Day prayers at the end.

Call to Worship 

God, you have formed me, and know me. You have set me apart with your love.

You have given me the gift of faith, loving me, before I even knew what love was. 

You know us, and call us each my name.

Come let us praise our God, who knows us and loves us. 

Call to Worship

God, you call us into faith

You call us, not alone, but together, so that we might better understand your love

God you call us to baptize all nations, in your name

For we are adopted into your grace not by our works, but by the gift of faith

God is calling do your hear?

Let us rejoice in the gift of faith.

Prayer of Confession: (unison) God, please search me and know me. You know the entirety of me, there is no part of me that is hidden from you. I confess that sometimes I startle myself, sometimes my thoughts betray me, sometimes I lose faith. Yet even then, you are there. Your left hand shall lead me and your right hand shall hold me fast. Keep me in the palm of your hand I pray (Silent Confession) Amen

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that sometimes we do not feel like the beloved children of God. Too often, we think we have to compete, Too often we squabble, and compare our good works. Too often we proclaim tests of faith, as if faith a gift that is given, rather than a metric to be proven. Forgive us. Open our eyes to your grace and mercy we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: When we fall down, God kneels beside us, helps us back up, and comforts us with her loving arms. And then she whispers into our ears the everlasting truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God let us go into the world sharing this gift of faith we have. Proclaiming your love and sanctuary with every step, every breath and every word, not because it is required, but because it is a celebration of your gift of faith. In your son Jesus Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Hymns; Amazing Grace, God of the Sparrow, Jesus Loves Me, Just As I Am, On Eagle’s Wings. We Walk by Faith and not by Sight

Mother’s Day Links

Mother’s Day Litany

Pandemic Mother’s Day

Complicated Mother’s Day Prayer

Mother’s Day Confession

Narrative Lectionary Seeds of Prayer: Church at Corinth

Church at Corinth

Acts 18:1-4

1 Cor. 1:10-18

(Mark 9:34-35)

Lectionary Resources & Prayers by Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl

Call to Worship

To whom do you belong? Are you an American? A Democrate? a Republican? An Independent?

I belong to Christ

Can Christ be divided?

No, we are the body of Christ. 

Call to Worship

Look who has gathered here today?

It is us, the hands and feet of Christ

It is so good you are here, we have need of each and every one of you!

Come let us worship the Lord together!

Prayer of Confession: God, too often we forget who formed us, and blessed us and sent us into the world. We think we are made of our own bootstraps, or that our merits are based on our worthiness. Bless us as children of God, we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Confession: Lord, I confess that I am desperate to belong, to fit in, to be a part of it all. And it is hard to know that I fall short, it is hard acknowledge that I can disclose others, who also want to belong. Teach me how we all belong to you I pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God’s love always leaves the light on for us, come home and know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day: Lord, remind us that we can find home and love in you. Especially when it’s hard to face the world. Be our soft place to land, we pray. Amen.

Communion Prayer: Lord, like a mother you nourish us. Giving Adam and Eve the Garden of Eden and all that dwelled therein. Then when we were wandering in the desert with Moses, you fed us manna. Again, when the temple was destroyed, you fed us hope. Feed us today, again, today in any way we need. Bless this food and cup with the Holy Spirit so it can be the food of Jesus Christ, communion and love. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, your firstborn child, who adopted each of us as family. May we celebrate all of our meals with our brother Jesus we pray. Amen.

Body of Christ Litany

Mother’s Day Confession Prayer

Mother’s Day Litany Prayer (in light of the pandemic)

Virtual Communion Resources

Pandemic Resources

Eastertide Narrative Lectionary Resources

 

 

Pandemic Mother’s Day Prayer: Another Kind of Mother’s Day

Another Kind of Mother’s Day

Dear God we pray for all the mother’s today.

For this is a mother’s day just like every other, yet more pronounced.

For every single one that can’t safely see their children.

For the essential working mom, who is trying to do everything, we pray that they are able to receive some care themselves.

For the mothers who are ill, we pray for peace.

For the mothers who are given the duties of motherhood–the stepmothers, Godmothers, grandmother’s, adopted mother’s, aunties, mentor-mothers and the single fathers in the world,  we pray that all of their work shines in their beloved children.

For the lonely mothers, we pray that they can receive moments of connection.

For the mothers who are stuck with their children at home, when it seems they should be launched into the world, we pray that you are able to be not just “mom” but your full differentiated self.

For the estranged families on this day, we pray that they can maintain safe boundaries and celebrate with their found families.

For the mothers who are pregnant–probably equal parts mixed excited and scared to be bringing a baby into the world–we pray they feel strong roots beneath them to carry on.

For the mothers who are caretaking–similar to how they always do, yet having to absorb all of the changes and be a buffer for their charges–we pray that your work is appreciated.

For the single mothers who are doing more by themselves than ever, we pray that you can receive support.

For all the mothers who feel overwhelmed, inadequate or stressed, we pray that you receive love.

On this just another mother’s day where everything is the same, but different, we pray for all the mothers, sons and daughters, for all the families  Close together or far apart, let us hold each and every kind of mother in prayer today.

Reminding each of member of the family that we are each a child of God, and that God longs to hug us under her wings–caring for us, feeding us and sheltering us like a Mother Hen cares for her brood. We pray for this God to shelter us in her loving arms this particular Mother’s Day through the power of the Holy Spirit we pray. Amen.

 

Feel free to use with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

A Complicated Mother’s Day Prayer

Lord, we pray to you today because there’s no such thing as perfect motherhood. The role that has traditionally been given to every woman ever–is a hard one to fill. I pray for all those for whom motherhood is a box that is hard to fill.

I have friends who deal with infertility, single parenthood, the need to find a partner to do the work. I have friends who have adopted and fostered with all the magnification of joy and sorrow that creates. I have friends who have two moms, I have friends who have no moms.

I have friends who have somehow or another lost their children. I have friends who have lost their mothers. I know too much about those whose moms were abusive or neglectful.

I have even more friends whose relationship with motherhood might not be just good or bad but is super-complicated. I have many friends who are special needs mothers, like me, which means childhood may, on some level, last forever. I have friends who don’t want children, and have to deal with that reality in a society that expects differently.

But I know that you, God are not only a father, but also a mother to us. I know that this holiday was brought into church as one of the few moments when women were honored for their sphere.

Lord, God who inspired my friend to give her single father a mother’s day card every year, God who gave my single Aunt her first Women’s Day (as opposed to mother’s day) in Armenia, God who let me peer over a colleague’s shoulder who is brilliantly mothering her foster-to-adopt child.

God who gave my mother not one, nor two, but in fact three daughters (though it took us in the cis-world too long to figure it out), God who gave us the special older ladies at every church I’ve ever attended to mother and grandmother me and my children. I give you thanks and praise.

And I look forward, God, for us to find a way to celebrate womanhood and femininity in a way that honors the complexity that is the human experience of being a female, and one who lives relationships. Teach us to pray a more complicated Mother’s Day prayer we pray.

Amen

Mother’s Day, one holiday in the life of a working pastor mom

For me mother’s day is getting up around 6am to help my children get ready for church.

I get their clothing (laundry being the only thing my husband doesn’t like to do AT ALL). I actually had laid out our clothing the night before, but my leggings for under my tunic on a rainy day (which prob doesn’t matter because I’ll be wearing a robe anyway) seem necessary so the dears at church don’t feel cold due to my sticking out legs. I want to wear my tunic shirt though, my parents sewed it for me, and I wore it for Easter but they weren’t around.

Luckily I find some black tights that will do just fine and easily find another shirt for the 5 yr old. He has a lot more clothes then the older ones as he inherits everything. Then and get back to work to get the kids ready.

I tell almost 9 and 5 yr old no electronics this morning (some days its easier to have them distracted, sometime the fight to get off is not worth it)

My husband comes and they give me a gift card, which I sort of saw when 5 yr old accidentally got excited and tried to give it to me when my husband was out of the house, I convince my almost 9 yr old to rehide the gift. Dad explains that I’ve been working really hard and need to relax, because gift cards are not excited for small boys.

Luckily 7yr old boy (who is autistic) sleeps in, so he comes down for 10 minutes of “Scooby Doo Toys” (youtube; because originally thats what he watched on it). I sneak in his meds as he’s watching (the easiest time to do it) quick before we go. I think about that he’s not up during the present time, but it would probably confuse him as its neither for him nor he picked it, plus he has his own present for me, so I decide that will do for his part of the present giving.

My parents come over because they came up from Philly for the weekend, we all went out to eat the night before for mother’s day (with babysitting!) because then I can concentrate on the worship service. Which is beautiful and perfect, but the significance of the day is still real. I think about this as I think of those electing not to mention mother’s day in church, because its a secular holiday and it hurts. I feel uncertain as to letting the only voices being non-church ones is the way to go. But hey, I’m blessed, so I celebrated some Saturday and do a lot of my thinking today.

Then I look for my black shoes. One pair has been sitting in the “shoe bench” cupboard because the ballet straps look just silly with a lot of outfits, but I can only find one (of course). Look in the basement where I foolishly sometimes take off shoes to change to clean pajamas down there, then the upstairs bathroom where I do the same, finally I look under the couch which is miraculously almost clear, but sure enough my other pair of black dress shoes are there.

We get everyone dressed and ready and going out to the car, and I run back in for tampons, because nothing says mothers day like preaching with your period (seriously the things I reflect on theologically are SO nerdy, did I mention I’m still 33 yrs old the Jesus age…yeah I’m obsessed)

We go to breakfast at Panera, like we do every Sunday, its my survival coping mechanism for Sunday.

I ask my mom and dad to pick up 20 carnations for all the women of the church, and then we head off to church planning to meet them. (Yay for help in getting things done)

I’m on my way to church, still thinking about how to mention all those for whom mother’s day is hard. Reflecting, that its most of us. Who has entirely happy memories/associations with mothers day? I’m lucky in my mother and mother-in-law’s support, but my grandmother is no longer around and that makes me melancholy.

Then I’m old enough to know people who struggle with infertility and miscarriage, to know of those who are yet unpartnered and are trying to figure out what to do with their wish for children, I know people in the queer community for whom mother’s day is extra complicated, not to mention mother’s of children who are physically unwell, have diagnoses or struggle with addiction. I also know those for whom their mothers are just bad news. One friend said she finally has been able to admit her mother is a terrible person. I think on my father whose parents were abusive, the grandparents on that side that I never got to know well.

All of this is in the back of my mind and I go to my bookshelf to get The Runaway Bunny to read to the kids during children’s sermon. Thinking on how Psalm 139 is still my favorite, probably because of this book.

Then I do all the things to prep the church that my one faithful guy always does, but he’s out of town. I prep my office to magically transform into the choir room for 20 minutes and fuss all morning with my butterfly stole which now refuses to stay straight as a chain on the back has broken.

I print out the sermon notes, read over the scripture one last time and think carefully about the promise of baptism.

Right before service, my husband and I talk work schedule because the church’s Chicken BBQ is Tues and he doesn’t usually work then, so I have no babysitting. We talk about bringing the kids to the event and under what circumstances he might stay (boys are helpful) go (attitude everywhere) or just take 7yr old autistic child back. We clarify he CAN work Weds which is usually his day off because for once I have no important meetings.

I see a new couple and introduce myself, nope they are here for the cool inclusive-we-ordain-women-worship down the hall. This is often confusing because we also have a female pastor (me). I offer to walk them down the hall. I am trying to look at all of these as a blessing, though I wish we had a cool newspaper write up that drew visitors this week.

I look out, there are about 5 people in church, including my parents. I suddenly remember that Mother’s Day is a low attendance day for my church (in contrast to tradition, but right in line with modern day attitudes). The reminder actually helps me feel like think are normal.  I help with announcements and hear my lay leader jovially wish everyone a happy mother’s day.

Then people trickle in, and we end up with about 20 people, I hear my parents sing during the first hymn and immediately feel like its more mothers day (How do your children say pe-ace, how do your children say hooooommeee…).

We do a litany prayer and my voice cracks on the mother of those who have physical, emotional  or mental disabilities (which I smartly had put in bold as a group prayer). Then I say the part about children who feel motherless for whatever reason by myself (which is not something I feel) and hope its enough for those who are hurting.

I have the children’s sermon and its just two of my three, the other family’s children are NOT cooperating (which I muse to myself is totally understandable holiday are so oft overkill) so I read them the story and say a repeat prayer and send them back to their seats. Sometimes I have the kids give out the flowers, but it feels silly if its just mine. Plus my eldest will end up doing it all, and he doesn’t need the extra attention, even tho he’d love it.

I sermonize, I talk about baptism and God’s role as a nurturing and creating God. I talk about how mother’s day is hard, but motherhood is part of the church’s class. I preach about community and how building community is what faith is about (subtext: belief is one thing, community faith is another). I feel the hope, and talk about welcome as a part of nurturing. I think it was fairly focused, but preaching is an art not a science, so who knows.

During the Anthem after the sermon, I decide to hand out the flowers. One congregant goes and sees her sister who suffers from dementia. She usually has to leave during the last hymn, and I don’t want her to be without a flower. My mom jumps up to help, which is nice.

During the prayers of the people I emphasize those who mothers day is hard, or their mothers are far away.

Then the service draws to a close, I reflect about the balance, the sermon was happy and optimistic but the prayers were more mournful, I wonder if that worked.

We close service, and we pass the peace and go to coffee hour (snacks my kids call it). My parents run to go see my brother on Mother’s day too. Luckily no one is too sad because the kids are overjoyed by the donut holes, I give up trying to monitor how many they are having, seeing that my 7 year old autistic boy isn’t eating too many sweets for once, and is singing and dancing around the sanctuary. I hear a litany of what is being dropped in the entryway (where we now have coffee hour since we are renting out the fellowship hall) and try not to address it, because today is mother’s day.

Then I call for “Messy Church” and find that the family of recalcitrant kids have been refreshed by donut holes and them and another child who was late to church have joined my own for our more informal type of Sunday School.

I take them over to the baptismal font to talk about baptism. Meanwhile my 5 yr old immediately notices I didn’t get a flower (i.e. I didn’t take one for myself) and runs to get me one. Adorable, makes my day.

Then I talk about baptism and am pleased that the kids are super literate about what it is and what it mean. No doubt the involvement in the kids sprinkling all the adults with water as a renewal has helped. They say they belong to God and that Jesus loves us and we are church family. Then I ask if they want to write God on them to show who they belong to (Answer=Enthusiastic YES). I go and write God on the bottom of their shoes and some feet, realizing I didn’t ask any parent’s permission, but figure its harmless enough that its probably ok.  We triumphantly write God on shoes and bare feet and all the kids love it and start telling each other they belong to God. I start to think this has been the most successful part of the whole worship.

Then we go back to show the adults.

I check in with the parents and warn them about the shoes (1 hr later I realize the marker all washed off in the rain grass, but hey) and everyone is ok with it. so I then take the moment to tell the other adults about the great special needs baseball team my 7 yr old just started, crowing with proud that he loved it and it wore him out. (And realize once again what percentage of my time is spent talking about my autistic child vs. the other two, but try not to guilt myself about it)

On the way to the car, I say goodbye to the Nursery Care College Student who is heading home for the summer. Its her 2nd year for us, and she is working out whether or not she can do a 3rd depending on internship. I thank her profusely, as I know I’m the only one who pays her any attention, she’s not a member, just an employee, which is unusual in our close knit teeny church. She does well, and I want to be sure to tell her before she goes. Then the kids outdo me and almost know her over with a group hug goodbye. 🙂 YAY!

Then we hop in the car (with less fuss than usual), and head towards the playground, because now that the weather is nice we are trying to do that after church. On our way we discuss whether its worth going, because my husband has work soon and it will be a short visit. It looks like rain, if it rains would we have missed our chance? What if it rains while are there?

The kids tell us they are expecting playground, and are not asking for electronics, so we decide to go. 20 minutes of play actually works out pretty well. I sit a little and read, my husband catches Pokemon. 9yr old is super happy he hangs our with older cool kids, and no one really touches the oozing mudpie that is usually the sandbox.

We run home, my husband gets some food and goes to work at the library. I get everyone settled with electronics (totally forget to give them more food), read a short story written by 9 yr old. Lock the front door and go to take a nap.

2 hrs later!!! I wake up. Whoa, I must have been more tired than I thought. Shoot, I was going to originally kick everyone off electronics after an hour. Oh well, thinking my menstrual cycle probably has something to do with it. I go downstairs and kick everyone outside. 5 yr old is totally grumpy form lack of food (everyone else probably treated themselves to a snack) and begs for “new” mac and cheese, the one in the fridge will NOT do at this point in life.

I look at the clock, its past 4. I start mac and cheese, but the kids ate that last night, so I look for more supper. The fridge is basically empty and pancakes feel eh! for dinner. So, I decide its mother’s day, its ok to order, I order hibachi.

5 yr old helps to make mac and cheese, meanwhile 9yr old is outside and again playing with older kids (yay), One older neighbor who also is not neurotypical has a cool Motorbike!. 7yr old is ecstatic and dances about the yard because watching the motorbike is amazing.

7yr old wants to ride his bike (which he can get out of the trunk of the car with a little too  much ease). Luckily 9yr old comes in to tell me the bike is out, so I go to watch. (Just got the mac n Cheese finished in time) Bingo! Have worked out with 7 yr old how he can go up and down the duplex driveway hills into the street and have me watch from a vantage point where I can warn/help with oncoming cars when the few come it. Much better than running after the bike which was what I was doing til now (good exercise but the 7yr old did NOT appreciate it). He plays outside for an hr! Kids ask about electronics and I say after dinner.

Go onto phone and fb for first time. Try to do the mother’s day greetings and thank yous. Think about my sermon some more 😛 and how it went because this is what I do.

Have dinner.

Get the gift from 7yr old, its a hand in a HUGE block of ceramic. He fits his hand, I say is it for mama day. He says yes (I’m his “person” autistic kids usually have one main person they connect to) and hugs and kisses me, very happy there is a mama day.

Husband turns on Jim Henson’s Storyteller, because 9yr old is currently into Greek Mythology–going into 4th grade thats when I remember being into it, husband too, it must be developmental.

Surprisingly 7yr old turns off youtube and snuggles in to watch. Its adorable, My husband and I can’t move, he doesn’t get pajama pants and I don’t go to the bathroom for a good hour. Then he settles in, and we go about our usual things as the boy-boys watch.

5 yr old decides to make cookies with me. He has cute new apron of his own side and can read the picture directions. We decided to make baby cookies (not to be confused with babies which 5yr old told me Dada says “No Babies” which is true because dada VERY clearly told boy-boys we are not planning on more child-longs a couple of weeks ago).

Cookies are a success, and as their only 12 of them (24 mini-cookies) we feel ok about consuming them all! 5 yr old is very proud of his cookie making accomplishment.

We watch the shows until bedtime.

Its a long and good day (less meltdowns by boy-boys). And I’m not sure what it means, but for me this is mothers day, here and now, and it seemed important to share it.

Mother’s Day Confession Prayer

O Creating God who loved us into being, we your children praise you. When we fall, you lift us up, when we fail you restore us, when we are wounded you nurse us, when we grieve you weep with us, when we celebrate you laugh with us. But sometimes we don’t reach out to you, we are embarrassed, or we forget, or we feel silly. Help us to reach out to you at any and all times of our lives we pray. Amen

 

Parts borrowed from https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/03/prayer-of-confession-womens-day.html

 

#mothersday Litany (which means list #prayer)

For all Kinds of Mothering People

I’ve heard the original words this plays off of are by Amy Young.

Mothers come in many different forms, and today we celebrate them all!
We confess ourselves as the children of God: each of us is a son or a daughter.
Bless those who are mothering in strange ways and times, for we know that God is with them.
 We remember Elizabeth who had a child in old age, we remember Mary who had a child as a teenager
For all those mothering people who are not here, for whatever reason and help us to take some time today to give thanks for their lives, and to grieve their absence.
We remember Esther who grew to be a mother of faith, without having a mother of her own.  
We give thanks to all those who have acted in love, mothering those who need it in their lives: the single fathers, the aunts, the grandmothers, those not tied to us by blood all of whom provide the care we need.
We remember the Pharaoh’s daughter, who took in Moses in his time of need and became mother to him.
For all those parents who have lost a child, we pray and honor their parenthood
We remember Naomi who grieved the death of both of her sons.
For those who feel their family is not normal, who feel motherless or childless, we pray forgiveness for forgetting or ignoring those for whom mother is a complicated word, for whatever reason.
We remember Sarah who was taunted by her own mother and sisters for her infertility.
For those for whom the church is their family, and see God as the mother they need, we give thanks.
We remember Ruth who committed herself to her mother-in-law’s family, fortune and faith.
We give thanks for all the mothering people who practice waiting, waiting for a phone call or a visit, who are far away from the children of their heart for whatever reason.
We remember other unnamed mothers, like the mother who had to wait for the prodigal son.
Help us to celebrate the full meaning of mother today.
Lord let us celebrate all motherhood in all its forms, today and everyday in honor of you God: who birthed all creation into being. Amen.