Two Mothers Day Prayers


A Prayer For All Who Mother

We reflect in thanksgiving this day for all those whose lives have nurtured ours.
The life-giving ones
Who heal with their presence
Who listen in sympathy
Who give wise advice … but only when asked for it.
We are grateful for all those who have mothered us
Who have held us gently in times of sorrow
Who celebrated with us our triumphs — no matter how small
Who noticed when we changed and grew,
who praised us for taking risks
who took genuine pride in our success,
and who expressed genuine compassion when we did not succeed.
On this day that honors Mothers
let us honor all who mother
All those generous souls
who from somewhere in their being
have freely and wholeheartedly given life, and sustenance, and vision to us.

Dear God,
grant us life-giving ways
strength for birthing,
and a nurturing spirit
that we may take attentive care of our world,
our communities, and those precious beings
entrusted to us by biology, or by destiny, or by friendship, fellowship or fate.
Give us the heart of a loving mother today.



Spirit of Life,

Known to us in many ways, but so often, in so many cultures, in the image of a mother,

Hold us in your arms this day.

Let all that we value and all that we hold dear in the images of motherhood we carry be our guide.

We are grateful for all the parents that share the community of this congregation: The young ones and the old ones, those still with us and those departed. May the blessings they give us be rich and overflowing.

For some of us our experiences and images of parents have been tarnished by absence or abuse. Let us not forget that not all mothers, not all parents, have been able to rise to the many challenges that parenting brings us. May we find healing and maybe even forgiveness for all the ways that our parents fell short of fulfilling the love that gave us birth.

The community of this church gives us a great blessing: we are gifted with the chance to celebrate births, and parenting, and the glorious unfolding of human potential. Today is a day for such celebration. Let us make the most of it. Let us use it for thanksgiving and renewal and re-dedication in the good company of loved ones and friends.

May it be so! Amen.

AI And Sermon Prep

My co-worker asked me today about using A.I. as a resource in preaching. Great question.

I did this once, and I don’t see myself doing it again, and here’s why:

When I entered a bunch of my writing into ChatGPT in April 2023 and asked it to generate a sermon about stewardship of the earth, it spewed back a nicely organized set of sentences and paragraphs that kind of sounded like me. It was certainly readable prose. But was it deliverable prose? Was it sermonic? No. Nope.

That is because Artificial Intelligence is not alive, and a sermon must come from the life force: the preacher’s living connection to their body, their life in relationship to the Holy Spirit, the ruach hakodesh, the cosmos, creation. I cannot deliver something that was not born but generated. Jesus said that thing about not feeding our children stones when they ask for bread. Stones actually have a lot more life force in them than does AI.

What do you believe about the transmission of life, hope, love and wisdom-giving energy through the generations, through the natural world, the sacred realm and through and among human beings? The way you answer that question will inform your decision to use or not use AI as a resource in your preaching. For myself, I do not want to begin with something dead and inert and have that enter my brain and creative process. It felt to me like gulping a meal of concrete. After reviewing my ChapGPT-generated sermon, it took considerable time and intention after that consumption of cement to get a sense of the blood flowing through my veins and the creative channels opening. Such a strange sensation, to feel a sense that I need to recover from ingesting inert reproduction of my own syntax and ideas.

I want to explore the fantastic potential of AI but I will not be using it as a resource for sermon preparation.

Ermengarde’s Hymn Of Praise

As you know, all cats have their origins in Egypt, and as you might know, the ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun.  It makes sense then, that cats also worship the sun, being good Egyptians.  It has been a dark winter.  Humans have a hard time living in darkness and cats don’t much like it either.  Sometimes, very early on sunny winter mornings I have awakened to hear my cat crying and meowing.  When I look for her to see if anything is the matter, I  find her rolling around in a patch of sunlight that comes through the window.  She cries and run to me, and then runs back to the patch of sun to stretch out in it and it is clear that she is saying, “Look! This person has just come into our room! Let us welcome him by rolling around on his warm self!”

            “You go ahead, dear,” I tell her. “I’m going back to bed.”

            The other morning, say around 5 a.m., the cat woke me up again.  We’d had an awful lot of rain – remember? about eight days in a row —  and the sun was finally starting to shine again in the mornings.  I expected her to make quite a fuss, and she didn’t disappoint me.  But you know, it was worse than a fuss. She was making such eerie sounds  — unlike anything I had ever heard any animal make — that I remained frozen with fear for a moment. I finally got up to see if she was hurt, or if she was choking on a mouse or a toy and saw her – for heaven’s sake! — sitting quietly in the first ray of sunshine that was coming through the window.  She wasn’t meowing and rolling, she was making short, low, throaty sounds (grrrll-owwwl) and then quick, high sounds (chya! chya!) like a little girl catching her breath. And she repeated this sequence again and again, all the while sitting very much as you are sitting now, as if in a pew at church, in her little beam of sunlight, looking up at it with great love while she made these remarkable noises.

            I watched this for a minute or so, and it made the hair on the back of my neck prickle a little bit.  I certainly couldn’t go back to sleep.  “What is she doing?” I thought. “Who is she trying to talk to? Is she calling the mother ship?”

            I watched her and listened for a bit, feeling a kind of awe, and then I realized, oh my goodness… she’s singing.  She’s singing a little hymn of praise to the sun!  There’s no other possible explanation for this.  She’s comfortable, she’s not hungry, she’s not crying for a boy cat, there’s nothing outside the window to see, she’s not making this noise for my benefit…she’s singing.  In her own little cat way, she is sitting in her little beam of sunlight responding to the beauty of the morning.  She is expressing her religion.  I have not been able to get it out of my mind.

[This is part of a sermon I gave in 2005. Ermengarde died at the ripe old age of 18 on July 31, 2019. She was a beautiful being and spiritual teacher until the end. – PB]