Come, Mothers, Lay Your Burdens Down: A 21st Century Africana Resource for Mother’s Day

by the Rev. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson

Gathering Call
God made Sunday for mothers.
A time to be "Marys" and sit at the feet of Jesus.


Come, mothers, lay your burdens down and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come, fathers, lay your burdens down and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come grandmothers and grandfathers,
lay your burdens down and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come children, lay your burdens down
and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come, singles, lay your burdens down
and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come, neighbors, lay your burdens down
and sit at the feet of Jesus.
Come, strangers, lay your burdens down and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Leader: Come, ye that love the Lord, and sit at the feet of Jesus.

Opening Hymn: "Marching to Zion," 3, Songs of Zion or United Methodist Hymnal, 733

Opening Prayer
God, our protector; God, our defender; Father and Mother God, thank you for never leaving us alone. No matter who else lets us down, we know you never will. Although we may not understand when bad things happen to us, help us to call upon your name. No matter what we call you, you are the same God of Abraham and Sarah, of Isaac and Ishmael, and of Hagar. You are also our God. We know you more clearly through your Son, Jesus Christ. We know that you are the same God who sent water to Hagar in Beersheba and to Moses and the Hebrews in the wilderness. Send water now to the women, children, and men in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, and in the United States, and in Israel, and in Haiti, and everywhere your children thirst, whether for water or for your Spirit.

If you save us, we will be saved indeed, on earth and in heaven. Thank you for helping us hold out just one more day. Thank you for hearing our cry. Thank you for answering our prayers in your time and in your way and for giving us what we need, even before we knew we needed it.

You are, indeed, a great God, and so we give you praise. Mother God, this is your special day. Hear our praise as we celebrate it with you. Amen.

Scripture: Genesis 21: 9-21

Special Music: "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Chile," 83, Songs of Zion (solo, instrumental, or with dance)

(An easy-to-use sacred dance resource with step-by-step illustrations is Dancing through the Christian Calendar by Sylvia B. Bryant, nationally renowned, African American liturgical dance artist.)

Sermon Suggestion: "Mother's Helping Hand"
Summary: Those who "mother" need a helping hand from time to time. Many of us have been mothers who needed a helping hand, and God did not let us down. God sent us friends, helpmates, opportunities. Many of us are mothers in need of a helping hand right now. Our God can do exceedingly, abundantly more than we can ask or even imagine.

Abraham and Sarah chose to be God's people because they believed God had chosen them. Their Egyptian slave woman, Hagar, also had a relationship with the God of Abraham. God comforted Hagar when she ran away from home while she was pregnant with Ishmael. God was her helping hand. Sixteen years later, when Sarah's anger drove Hagar away for good, God helped her keep her son from dying in the wilderness from thirst and starvation. God cared for Hagar in her wilderness experience just as God had provided food and drank to the Israelites in their wilderness wanderings. God made the descendants of Hagar's son a Great Nation too, just as God made a Great Nation of the descendants of Sarah's son.

Many mothers of African descent can identify with this biblical mother of African descent from Egypt. What God did for Hagar, God has done down through history and will continue to do for us.

So now, God of us all, teach us how to allow you to comfort and protect us as you comforted and protected Hagar. Help us turn away from doing harm for harm, evil for evil. Show us how to love all your children. Show us the way to be helping hands to all your children. We do not want to wait until we all get to heaven to sing together and shout together of your amazing love. Free us to shout now! Amen.

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Sherrie Dobbs Johnson is the pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, NY.

"21st Century Africana Liturgy Resources for Mother's Day" Copyright © 2005 the Rev. Sherrie Dobbs Johnson. Used with permission.

Categories: Worship, Worship Planning, Lectionary Planning Archive, Services and Liturgies, 21st Century Africana, 21st Century Liturgy, Other