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Five Liturgies About Parenting From Every Moment Holy Vol. 3



Before becoming a parent myself, someone shared the oh-so-helpful statistic that surveys show that most couples report that the happiest days of their marriage were before having children. It was not a heartening statistic to hear as a newly-married-but-as-yet-childless person.


Now six years into parenting three children, I can attest that the reality of navigating the ups and downs of parenting is so much more complicated than that statistic made it seem.


We waited eight years before having children and, yes, those years held many joys to which we have since waved bye-bye. Joys like choosing when you want to wake up, jauntily walking out the door when it is time to leave the house, or not needing to check your sweaters each time you wear them to make sure they haven't picked up any new stains from food or... other things. As with most things, Michael McIntyre sums it up nicely.


This season of life has held new joys of its own though—and new sorrows. It has been harder than I could have imagined, but I can also see that in the difficulty, the best parts of me have grown and the worst parts of me have been revealed and peeled away. Sometimes when I walk through the door, three little beings scream my name and walk/crawl over to me for a hug. Other times, however, I walk in while two or more of these little angels are screaming at, hitting, stealing from, or otherwise menacing one another. Sometimes I feel that I should read Ellie Holcomb and Douglas McKelvey's "Liturgy for After a Fight Among Siblings" before coming home and have Andrew Roycroft's "Liturgy for After a Child's Meltdown" or Hannah Greer's "A Liturgy for Responding to a Child's Needs" at the ready for soon after arrival.


My oldest son started kindergarten this year and watching him ride his bike to school on his first day brought on a peculiar melange of feelings that I hardly have words for. It was a bright sadness, to say the least. Yet I know it is but a foretaste of what is in store when my children grow up and leave the house. I imagine that I will return to this post to read Heidi Johnston's "Liturgy for Contemplating the Empty Bedroom of a Child Who Has Left Home" on that day.


On the whole, parenting is a delightful, strange, and maddening mixed bag. But did I leave my happiest days behind me when we had our first child? Definitely not. Has there been a trade-off of one kind of joy and one kind of suffering for another? Certainly.


One thing is beyond doubt, parents need all the support they can get. So parents, to that end, we offer these liturgies gratis and with our blessing to help you through all the many ups and downs you will encounter on the way.


Each of these liturgies is taken from Every Moment Holy Volume 3 from Rabbit Room Press. You can find more liturgies like these at EveryMomentHoly.com.

 

Liturgy for After a Child's Meltdown

by Andrew Roycroft


After a Childs Meltdown
.pdf
Download PDF • 37KB

Lord, as this present storm subsides,

as we process our own agitated emotions,

even our exasperation at this meltdown,

help us to breathe out again.


Soften this wounded hush into readiness

to hear your voice,

to show your mercy,

to offer your grace,

to model your love.


All-seeing God, the hurt we feel

is not unknown to you.

Jesus, great High Priest, you

are not unsympathetic to our distress.

Blessed Holy Spirit, who brooded

over formless ruin, come to us

with your creative peace.


We bring our child to you now

overtaken by emotion,

overwhelmed with frustration.

Calm them, we pray.

Root them ever more deeply

in our unconditional love.

Steady their ragged breathing

and raging thoughts.

Blossom their budded fists

into opened hands.


Where gospel conviction would lead them

to your grace—our grace—let it do its work.

Where harmful guilt would drive them

to the brink, draw them back.

Let your love shown through us become

their safe place, their nearest shore.


Thank you for the gift of our

relationship with [child's name]. Thank you

that our love gives them a sheltered space

in which they can express their heart,

their fears, their hurts and confusion,

rather than choking those emotions

down till they become a quiet

poison in their veins. Help us

to be steady for them in such

moments, not reacting abruptly or

unpredictably from our own old

wounds—even when we feel overwhelmed

by this child’s outburst.


We bring ourselves to you, O Christ.

We are sinners.

We have raged against others in the past.

We have raged against you.

Forgive us.

O Lord, we confess our failure

in our handling of these circumstances.


A MOMENT OF QUIET REFLECTION AND REPENTANCE MAY BE OBSERVED.


Where we have spoken to our child

with unbridled tongue, cleanse us, and

re-season our speech with grace.

Lord give us the courage to confess our sin

to our child without justification or reservation.

Help us to mean our repentance; help us

to model it for them.


In the present chaos of these emotions,

remind us of your covenant,

and help us to embody that same love

to our child today.


O Lord, as our child will come to us

conscious of what they have done,

cautious of our response,

enable us to stand with open arms

in the path that our child takes home,

to welcome them,

help them,

teach them,

and guide them.


Take us beyond the symptoms of this meltdown

and lead us to what is really the matter.

May this present stress serve over time

to strengthen our bonds of love.

Help us to walk in the way of the cross

and let your reconciling power be at work here.


O Lord, help us!

Work your gospel into this moment.

Grant that I and my child would not only

experience recovery through these hours,

but that together we would discover

your redemptive grace

in new and healing ways,

knitting our hearts even more

closely than they were

before this flare of emotion.


Amen.



 

A Liturgy for Contemplating the Empty Bedroom of a Child Who Has Left Home

by Heidi Johnston


The Empty Bedroom of a Child Who Has Left Home
.pdf
Download PDF • 37KB

Eternal, unchanging God,

meet me here in this moment as my spirit

hovers over the bittersweet emptiness of this

place that once echoed with noise

and life and laughter and possibility.


Help me see the space before me

as the next proper stage in this,

the story of my child,

and of my child within our family,

and of our family within your greater story—

the end of which will not be changed by

circumstance or undone by the passing of time.


Give me grace to look back with gratitude

and not regret, treasuring the memories that

come so easily to mind.


ONE MIGHT PAUSE HERE TO REFLECT AND GIVE THANKS.


Thank you, Father God,

for the privilege of loving and nurturing

this child over so many years.


Forgive my countless failings.

Use them only as reminders of your grace.

If, in our home, there has been

any delight in you,

any hunger for your Word,

any love for your people,

may such things take root even now,

growing ever deeper

and spreading farther

for the extension of your kingdom.


As we move into this new season,

teach me to accept with gladness

the independence that has always been

the end goal of parenting—in the knowledge

that the bond between parent and child

will not end with this letting go.


Even as I acknowledge my changing role,

help me to be a faithful supporter,

always offering an open door

and a listening ear,

and, above all, remaining fervent in prayer.


Thank you that my love for this child,

although at times I imagine it unmatched

in all of humanity, is but a shadow

of your own never-ending love which follows

them now where I cannot, and knows all that

now remains hidden from me.


Give me the courage to entrust to your care

that which was never mine to keep. Bless and

protect your child through all that is to come,

captivating their heart and sustaining them

with hope. Grant them wisdom and

discernment and the courage to live well

in the light of all that is eternally true.


ONE MIGHT PAUSE TO PRAY FOR ANY SPECIFIC CHALLENGES NOW FACING THEIR CHILD


Just as this child was always yours,

so also is this empty space,

to do with as you will.

Breathe now into this void,

showing me how to best use it for your glory.


Are there others in need of nurture and care,

who, for even a short season,

may find refuge in this space?

Or perhaps it will become a sanctuary,

dedicated to your service in other ways.

A place where I, or others, may use or hone

or explore whatever gifts and talents

you have entrusted to us

for the building of your kingdom.


ONE MIGHT PAUSE HERE TO PRAY FOR GUIDANCE AND WISDOM


And now, with fondness for all that is past

and anticipation of all that is yet to come,

help me embrace this new season without fear,

looking always ahead to that day when we

will see that no ending was what it seemed;

when all our stories finally merge

into one epic tale of your relentless faithfulness,

and we find that we are forever home,

delighting to dwell in the rooms

you have prepared for us.


Amen.


 

A Liturgy for Long Hours Caring for an Infant

by Leslie Eiler Thompson


Long Hours Caring for an Infant
.pdf
Download PDF • 23KB

I am so tired, Lord.

This young life requires such constant

expenditure of my energies and affections,

till I feel drained of both.


But you, O Jesus, knew in your own flesh

the constraints of the human condition,

for you also experienced the weariness

of long hours tending endless needs.


I beg now your provision of grace

as I face the coming hours. I long for

the moment when sleep finds me,

but till then, I pray your strength

would be at work even in my weakness.


Now fill my empty cup again,

with patience and with peace,

that I might pour it out

for my child, in joy.


Amen.


 

A Liturgy for Responding to a Child's Needs

by Hannah Greer


Responding to a Childs Needs
.pdf
Download PDF • 27KB

O Father, I abide in the beautiful truth

that I can come to you expectantly,

knowing you will hear me and answer me.

You bend to listen to my pleas

for help and comfort and

guidance and strength.

You carry me always.

You never tire of it,

and I depend upon your dependability

to comfort and hold me.


And yet, sometimes the voices of my own

children become so continuous and exhausting

and overwhelming. I am so easily put out and

wearied by the whining, tugging, grabbing, and

crying to be continually held and attended to.


In my humanity, I am confronted

with my many limitations.

I am so easily given to selfishness, exhaustion,

tedium, frustration, and irritation.


My back aches and my neck and shoulders are

aflame from hoisting small children up

again and again and again

and balancing them on my hip

while trying to accomplish my tasks for the day.


How easily my sin can twist

the joyful blessing of holding a child

into drudgery and a wearisome task.

Is this not what I prayed for, Lord,

when I asked you to fill my arms with children?


I am so like the Israelites, who complained

though you rescued them from their enemies,

who complained though you rained manna

from heaven and provided water from a rock.

Yet you never tire of coming

to the aid of your children.


Father, give me the capacity I need

to respond lovingly to my children who cry out

to be picked up and held again and again.

Remind me of the blessed truth

that while I hold my little ones, you hold me.

Let me display to them what it looks like

to joyfully lay down one’s life for another.

Help me to show them that

while I will fail them at times,

you will never fail them,

and you will always hold us fast.


Amen.


 

A Liturgy for Giving Your Child Bad News

by Janel Davis


Giving Your Children Bad News
.pdf
Download PDF • 35KB

O Lord, in a few moments

I have to tell my kids one of the worst things

I hope they will ever hear.


Have mercy on us, O Lord.

I know you love them more than I

could ever love them.

Help me remember that truth

as I watch the pain cross their faces,

and also in the coming months

as I shepherd them through the grief

that is sure to follow.


May this moment of awful revelation

not become a memory that might uproot

their budding faith, but rather one that plants it

deeper within them, turning their young hearts

to you in the midst of their dismay and giving

those gospel seeds the resiliency they need to

flourish for a lifetime, no matter the suffering or

the circumstances they experience in their lives.


Help me not to fall apart as I tell them, Lord.

Help me hold my emotions together so that

I don’t scare them, but also let me open enough

of a window into my own sorrow that they

might see that it is okay and good to grieve,

to weep, and to express their feelings.

Sovereign Lord, this news is so awful

my children likely won’t even understand

some parts of it. And I’m not sure quite

how to explain it. Grant me wisdom, insight,

and understanding to communicate

just enough that they might comprehend

this heartbreak in an age-appropriate way,

but also such that no horrid,

graphic details would lodge

in their dreams

and imaginations.


I rely on you, Holy Spirit, to be

my counselor, nudging me toward

what to tell and what to hold back.

Let me be sensitive and responsive

to your voice that I might

in this moment become a conduit

of your wisdom and

your love for my children.


There will almost certainly be a loss

of innocence in learning of this news.

My children will begin to understand

hard truths about life and humanity.

Till now I’ve tried to guard their hearts

from things too dark for them to deal with.

I’ve tried to show them the flourishing

and the beauty of your good creation.

Now they will also hear of the horrors that

followed on the heels of the fall.


Lord, may they know that you are still good.

May they better see why the news of your

coming kingdom is such a great hope.

May they begin to learn how you will subvert

even this evil, somehow using it for the

good of your people and for your glory.


I entrust their innocence to your hands.


Lord, our great Healer—

redeem the trauma this brings

to our lives. Let your redemption be

active in ways we cannot even imagine.

Redeem the shock and the wounds

we will feel. And redeem the wreckage

in the lives of those affected most directly.


Do not let this trauma lodge for long

in our bodies, spirits, or minds, O Lord.

Make us resilient. Let our faith become more

rooted and fierce in the face of storm and

darkness. Give us a grit that would glorify you,

using even this experience to make our lives

more sheltering for others in their sorrows.


Hold us, heal us, and comfort us, Lord Jesus.

We entrust you with all that is good

and all that is awful in our lives.

Be near us in the hard conversation

soon to happen. Be our balm and our

guide, our counselor and our shepherd,

in the hours and days and months that follow.


Amen.



 

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