WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS
LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE Earl Waters, liturgist
Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!
Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
From the bosom of a devastated Earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Mother’s Day Proclamation of Julia Ward Howe, 1870
PRELUDE Träumerei Schumann
CALL TO WORSHIP
The Spirit brooded over the waters,
And land emerged.
Lush with plant life.
Flush with animals.
A sacred garden.
The birthing of our world. Home.
MUSICAL REFLECTION Salve Regina HKJ
Let us prepare ourselves for the word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture. Our hearts and minds are open.
Luke 1:46-55, 2:1-20
For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us. Thanks be to God.
SERMON Mother Mary Rev. Kim P. Wells
Mary did you know? This question is posed in a well-known Christmas song. I think our Lakewood choir has sung the anthem. ‘Mary did you know.’
As a Christmas piece, the anthem imagines Mary pondering her new born child. Did she know he would walk on water? Did she know he would give a blind man sight? Did she know he would calm the storm? Did she know he would be the head of all creation and rule the nations? Did she know? As she pondered the birth of her child, did she know?
I imagine that Mary did a lot of pondering in her life as every mother does. Pondering how to raise a happy and healthy child. How to shepherd the child along through life’s challenges. How to encourage the child to use their gifts. How to inculcate positive values and morals in the child. How to raise a child with an inclination to serve and do good for others.
How to help a child find meaning in relationships and treat others with respect and dignity. How to instill a sense of compassion and empathy in a child. How to encourage spiritual sensibilities in a child. Like every mother we can imagine Mary pondering all of these things and more as she raised Jesus.
And clearly, we conclude that Mary was a good mother; that she raised Jesus right. After all, she raised someone good, giving, compassionate, concerned about others, devout, respectful of all people and all life. While there is no specific metric to use, surely we think of Mary as a good mother. In some traditions she is revered as the model for all mothers. The best mother.
But when I think of the Christmas song, “Mary, did you know,” I feel there is a glaring omission. There is no mention of Jesus’ death. How about a verse, Mary did you know – that your son would be convicted of a capital crime? Mary, did you know that your son would be tortured and hung on a cross to die? Mary, did you know that your beautiful wonderful, precious child would meet a humiliating end as a criminal? Oh, Mary. Did you know?
Of course, Mary did not know. And she certainly had much more to ponder after Jesus’ death.
So when we think of the death of Jesus, do we associate his ignominious end with Mary and her mothering? Was it her fault because she didn’t bring him up right? Did she go back to work when he was too young? Did she remarry and he never adjusted to the new husband? Did she move when he was a teen ager and he never adjusted to his new home and school? All the crazy things we think about today to account for young lives gone awry. If Mary had been a better mother, could Jesus have avoided that awful end? No, of course not. We don’t blame Mary.
The crucifixion of Jesus was not Mary’s doing. It was the result of cruel, self interested forces in the society in which they lived. It was social forces, institutional concerns, protecting of power from perceived threat; it was these things that contributed to the killing of Jesus. Mary was a good mother but she could not protect her child from the social forces around him. She had no influence, as a woman, and a poor woman at that, over the societal dynamics that led to the death of her beloved child.
And here, we can relate. Today is Mother’s Day, and we will give flowers and candy to mom and maybe take her out for brunch. We will thank mom for all she has done. And we should.
But despite the efforts each and every day of the millions upon millions of wonderful mothers in the world today, kids are still at risk. Kids will still be killed in random shootings. Kids will still die from gang violence. They will still be lost to the drug culture around us. In 2001 we were told to be worried about the threat from brown men from across the ocean. In 2021, we know the threat is more likely to come from white men across town – who will kill our children at work, at the store, or at school. No matter how good a mother is, if her child is a person of color they are still at risk from police. No matter what a mother does, her kids are still dying from air pollution and water pollution right here in these United States not just in those remote primitive countries abroad. Kids here are still getting sick because of lead in the paint. Kids are dying right here because of lack of access to healthcare related to money, scheduling, and location issues. Kids are dying in the foster care system which is supposed to protect them. Kids are suffering from hunger and malnutrition because mom can’t get a job with a living wage because someone wants to be a billionaire. Kids are suffering bullying and harassment on social media. What can a mom do in the face of all of these dangers and threats?
Give mom the flowers and the candy and the new necklace. She is doing a great job. But still her kids are not thriving, they are at risk, they are scared, they are under threat. And just like Mary could not prevent Jesus’ crucifixion, mothers today cannot control or prevent the harm that is being done to their children each and every day.
The forces of society undermine the health of children and prevent children from flourishing. They contribute to the deaths of children and youth. While mothers are doing all that they can to raise healthy children, they are being undermined by the societal forces around them.
There was only so much that Mary could do raising Jesus and she did it. Like so many mothers today, she could not protect her child from the social forces that led to his death.
But in the Magnificat, we are shown Mary’s lifeline. She believed in a God committed to the transformation of the society that killed her son. She celebrated a God who lifted up the lowly; who supported the inversion of current power dynamics and economic arrangements. She glorified a God bent on a hunger-free society. She praised a God who was busy turning the tables on systems and institutions that killed innocent, beloved children.
Mary did you know? Mary knew. She knew what she was up against as a mother though she could not have known the specific outcome. She knew the threats and the dangers of the society around her. And she praised a God who was committed to transforming those conditions. May we also worship and glorify that God on this Mother’s Day and every day. Amen.
NAMING OF MOTHERS
One: On this Mother’s Day, let us lift up the names of women in our own lives who have mothered us and made manifest to us the power of Divine Love.
Naming of Mothers
ALL: May daughters prophesy justice and sons dream peace!
MUSICAL INTERLUDE Jasmine HKJ
The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal is to:
- Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives & in our world.
- Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people.
- Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.
Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar.
Offertory Solfeggietto C.P.E. Bach
Prayer of Dedication
This Mother’s Day may we commit ourselves to birthing a
world supportive of all mothers, children, and all life
forms; one holy, glorious, flourishing reality. Amen.
PREPARATION FOR PRAYER Pescador De Hombres Gabaráin
COMMUNITY PRAYERS- SAVIOR’S PRAYER
who is in heaven and within us,
we call upon your names.
Your wisdom come.
Your will be done,
in all the spaces in which you dwell.
Give us each day sustenance and perseverance.
Remind us of our limits as
we give grace to the limits of others.
Separate us from the temptation of empire,
and deliver us into community.
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen.
Rev. Yolanda Norton Womanist Lord’s Prayer used at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco at the “Beyonce Mass”
*POSTLUDE Toccata Walond