Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the LORD has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on his suffering ones.
But Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me,
my Lord has forgotten me.”
Can a woman forget her nursing child,
or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
yet I will not forget you.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands;
your walls are continually before me.
For several years it has been my tradition to use Walter Rauschenbusch’s “Prayer for the Family” in the Pastoral Prayer for Mother’s Day. Rauschenbusch is remembered as the greatest prophet of the Social Gospel awakening of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His theological analysis of the social situation and his application of biblical principles to social issues provide a continuing legacy for Christians who want to understand the practical meaning of the Gospel. But during his lifetime, Rauschenbusch was known and loved for his prayers. He lost his hearing at an early age while serving a church in Hell’s Kitchen in New York City, and the isolation this imposed made him a keen observer of the people around him. He was often moved to tears by the simple scenes of love and caring and pain that took place silently around him. On this Mother’s Day, as we celebrate the Festival of the Christian Home, our prayer begins with his prayer for the family.
“O God, we who are bound together in the tender ties of love, pray thee for a day of unclouded love. May no passing irritation rob us of our joy in one another. Forgive us if we have often been swift to see the human failings and slow to see the preciousness of those who are still the dearest comfort of our lives. May there be no sharp words that wound and scar, no rift that may grow into estrangement. Suffer us not to grieve those whom thou hast sent to us as the sweet ministers of love. May our eyes not be so holden by selfishness that we know thine angels only when they spread their wings to return to thee.”
On this Mother’s Day, we pray for those who have lost their mothers this year and for those mothers who have lost children or lost pregnancies. We pray for those who are struggling with infertility. We pray for the mothers who feel overwhelmed and inadequate, and we pray for those whose mothers were never able to give them the love and support they needed. May they be surrounded by your loving presence.
We give thanks for our mothers, and grandmothers, and great-grandmothers, and for all the women who have nurtured us and cared for us on life’s journey, for sisters and aunts, for Sunday School teachers and Girl Scout Leaders. We pray for single moms, and step-moms, and foster moms. We give thanks for adoptive parents and for those mothers who have courageously given their children for adoption. We give thanks for all the ways in which you have loved us as a mother loves her children.
We lift up our prayers for the people of this church and for the friends and loved ones closest to us. Heal, protect, and strengthen them according to their need. Comfort those who mourn with the assurance of your presence.
We ask these things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together with sisters and brothers all across the whole human family, saying as he said, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.