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For Mothers in Mourning: A Solemn Prayer

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"Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted." - Matthew 5:4

I awoke one recent morning with an overwhelming sense of grief and anguish. My heart was unusually heavy, the cause for which I did not know. After some still moments, my mind soon returned to my bedtime reading.

Then, the cause of my grief became clear.

A bright, new day had dawned. Still, my beautiful, young Nigerian sisters were missing, taken away under the cover of night.

Over the last several weeks, we have borne witness to the horrific knowledge of Nigerian girls kidnapped while at boarding school. We have also borne witness to the equally disturbing images of the girls' mothers - some prostrate in pain and protest upon the ground - offering petitions for their daughters' safe return. In viewing these painful images, and, in making considerations of these painful circumstances, I could not help but to also give contemplation to other mothers, likewise joined in choruses of pain, protest, and petition, who reside in closer proximity to me.

Mothers prominently displayed in painful, public mourning have become much too frequent an image for me. Historically, there is the infamous and painful image of the late Mamie Till embracing the coffin of her son, Emmett, upon its return to Chicago. In the wake of Chicago's continuing violence, I shudder to think of how many mothers, today, join with Ms. Till in similar refrain. We regularly witness Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath, the mothers of the tragically deceased boys Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis, in public mourning and protest, vigilantly fighting to ensure that a similar fate does not come to other children. Unfortunately, I am succinctly aware that for every Ms. Fulton and Ms. McBath, and for every Trayvon and Jordan, there are many more whose grief and tragic circumstances we will never know.

As we journey through the Christian season of Eastertide, my mind readily returns to witness the prostrated pains and petitions of a mother whose son was brutally murdered before her eyes. And in the faces and painful agony of mourning mothers from Nigeria to New York, the South Side of Chicago to South Dallas, I see the face of Mary, the mother of Christ. Every time I pass a sidewalk memorial, I think of it as a crucifixion point, and I ponder what mother has mourned here.

I have learned as a pastor that there are two Sundays on the calendar that bring with them a unique and palatable trauma: Mother's Day and Father's Day. More often than not, relative to Father's Day, there is a certain populace that struggles with its father's absence. Historically, on Mother's Day, the greatest struggle has been experienced by those whose mothers are dearly departed. Yet, in recent years, I have encountered an increasing number of mothers who stand in mourning of children gone much too soon.

This Mother's Day, may we become for mourning mothers as John, the beloved disciple, became for Mary, mother of Christ. Let us become adopted sons and daughters who provide a ministry of love and compassion, not only in their season of loss and separation, but in every season that follows.

Let us now pray for mothers in mourning.

Let us pray for mothers in mourning for children who have been abducted, even as we pray for their children's safe return.

Let us pray for mothers in mourning for children that are a part of the penal system, even as we pray for their children's safety and sanity amid increasingly oppressive conditions.

Let us pray for mothers in mourning for children that are gravely ill, even as we pray for their children's healing and wholeness.

Let us pray for mothers in mourning for children gripped by addiction, even as we pray that their children be given the strength and support they need to overcome.

Let us pray for mothers in mourning who have buried their own dreams and ambitions with their children- mothers, frozen in their pain, who find it exceedingly difficult to live on, even as we honor the memory of their children beloved.

And after we pray, let us work together to build a world where children are loved and protected and where mothers cease to mourn in abundance.

This Mother's Day, and every day, we pray, dear mothers, that you find in God a peace that surpasses all understanding and a joy that becomes for you as strength.

God, please hear our prayer.

Amen.