Originally composed in 2013, I edited and added to this prayer to better reflect our world and all those for whom this day is special and difficult. Lord, God of Sara, Rebekah, and Rachel; and God of Hagar, Bilhah, and Zilpah. God of the hopeless, surprised by joy; and God of the desperate, taking wild chances. Please hear us. Created in your image, her identity is found in relationship to you. Made to reign over creation alongside man; not to be ruled over or cheapened, reduced to a bodily function, defaced, only giving men what they want. God, forgive us. Lord, help us this Mother’s day to recognize what is genuine, what is good. Open our eyes to those hidden among us, and soften our hearts to reach out instead of pushing them aside to keep our liberties. We recognize those who work so hard to be the mother you call them to be. To balance work, dance lessons, and baseball games, with dinner around the table, homework, and bed-time prayers. And we bless them. We recognize those who thought parenting days were done, who had dreams of their own for the second half of life. But for a dozen reasons are now changing diapers and mixing formula, putting on pajamas, reading about three bears, and saying bed-time prayers. And we bless them. We recognize mothers whose plans for family, changed forever when he walked out. And now, working forty hours a week is only the beginning, to finding good day care, finding time to cook, and finding the energy to love their children. And we bless them. We recognize mothers who are most like you, adopting children who are not their own. And making them their own with unconditional love, no less than any mother ever loved her child. And we bless them. We recognize those who invest their hearts in children destined for other families. Knowing their time will be short, their attachment strong; and every time their heart will break just a little. And then they open their homes and their hearts again. And we bless them. Lord, today we open our eyes to see those who have not known a mother in a long time. Those who can’t even remember a funeral, and especially those with a mother at home who sometimes remembers their name—or not. Please bless these children Lord, we also recognize the mothers who cannot understand how life can possibly go on. Who cannot answer the question, “How many children do you have?” And we cannot imagine the pain this day inflicts, year after year, tear after tear. And we grieve with them. God, we recognize those like Sarah and Hannah; month after month, year after year unable to conceive. Wanting more than anything to hold a baby – their baby, but being told that it will not, cannot happen. And we cannot know the depth of their pain today, married and unmarried, who just want a child. And we grieve with them. Lord, this year we have become more aware of women in Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Libyia, Ukraine; mothers who woke this morning not knowing: How will I feed my children? Where will I find water—any water? Please, speak to rocks, and send food from heaven. Women forced to take chances we can’t imagine, walking on a long dusty road that someone promised would take them to safety. Mothers who sold everything to buy “tickets,” for a fishing boat to cross the Mediterranean: an old, overloaded boat, riding low, ready to sink. Please protect them. So we lift our hands to you, on one hand those with whom we rejoice and bless, on the other hand those for whom we pray and weep. May you overwhelm these women with your blessings: news of unimagined joy, rich and full. Turn tears of loss and pain into tears of joy and new life, surprise us again with your imagination and compassion.
Glenn Pemberton is a minister turned professor turned writer. After serving churches in Texas and Colorado, Glenn completed a Ph.D. (Old Testament). He then taught at Oklahoma Christian University before coming to Abilene Christian University in 2005, retiring as professor emeritus in 2017 due to a severe chronic pain. Glenn now spends his time writing for the church. Along with short essays he has published four books, including The God who Saves: An Introduction to the Message of the Old Testament (2015), and Hurting with God: Learning to Lament with the Psalms (2012). Glenn and his wife Dana continue to live in Abilene, Texas.