Mother’s Day is just around the corner. Though it’s a popular secular holiday, its Sunday place on the calendar makes a lovely theme for any congregation’s worship service. In fact, Anna Jarvis organized the first U.S. Mother’s Day celebrationat her Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. Her goal was to honor mothers. Not with commercial cards and a shower of gifts, but by having mothers wear a simple white carnation as a badge of honor. Above all, she wanted regular folks to spend the day visiting their mothers. Or, if that wasn’t possible, attending a church service and offering thanks for their mothers’ love.
So how can your general ministry celebrate Mother’s Daythis year? Try some of these ideas to enhance your services:
3 ideas to Celebrate Mother's Day at your church
- Say it with flowers: Instead of Anna Jarvis’s recommended corsages, try handing out flowers to the women of your congregation. These could be traditional white carnations, or you could choose a seasonal bloom such as tulips or daffodils instead. Ask the florist to arrange the single stems into a simple arrangement for the altar or another area at the front of the church. Then have ushers carry them to the doors to hand out individual blooms as people exit.
- Get kids involved: After Sunday school lessons with faith content about biblical mothers, get kids involved in the service by having them make small tokens for the mothers in your congregation. These could be tissue paper flowers, handmade cards, or any other craft that brings a touch of springtime to the service. Have children hand out these gifts during the offering or at the end of the service.
- Organize volunteers: Another way to celebrate mothers in your church is to have men and children take over. Assign them the Sunday duties so often performed by women. If your ushers, musicians, and lay readers are typically mothers, recruit new blood for this service. Explain that the whole congregation wants mothers to enjoy a well-deserved rest this Sunday. You can complete the gesture by organizing an all-congregation pancake breakfast or after-service brunch. Have the teen youth group or some grateful dads cook and serve the meal.
Treading lightly for those in pain
As you plan some special touches for Mother’s Day, it’s important to remember that this day can be painful for some members of your church family. For example, someone who has recently lost a dear mother to illness or old age will likely struggle with sadness. Particularly on his or her first Mother’s Day without that parent. Mother’s Day can also be a fraught time for women or couples who are struggling to conceive. Or to those who have lost children. It can even be a challenging day for people who are, for whatever reason, estranged from their families.
To make sure that no one is left out of the celebration, be clear that any breakfast or luncheon is open to all. It’s also a good idea to instruct anyone handing out flowers or other tokens to offer them to all women who walk by. That way no one is inadvertently passed over. If someone declines a gift, that’s perfectly fine.
If you know that there is someone in your congregation who is dealing with a loss that could be painful on this day, make an effort. Reach out before the service by phone or email to check in with that person. Or, try to touch base after the service. If you have a large congregation, you may consider hosting a separate Bible study or adult ministry meeting. Invite anyone who may be distressed by painful feelings instead of joy on this holiday.
Teaching to Mother's Day
Finally, consider including a reading and reflection on the story of Ruth and Naomi, one of the Bible’s great mothers. When Naomi’s husband and sons died, she told her daughters-in-law to return to their own families, but Ruth refused. Her love for her adopted mother was so great that she followed her home to Bethlehem. Ruth lived as Naomi's daughter, leaving her own people and gods behind. An important theme of the story is that Naomi and Ruth chose each other as family and loved more strongly than many with blood ties. It’s a good reminder that biology doesn’t make the bond—love does. Mother’s Day can be a celebration of love received, but it may also be a time to reflect on ways to give such unconditional love as well.
No matter how you decide to celebrate Mother’s Day with your church community, we hope it’s a lovely day filled with the bounty of spring and the joy of human love. Check back for more posts from the Sparkhouse Blog to help you celebrate the holiday.