Love Each Other Deeply

Leonard Klassen serves as co-lead pastor of King Road Mennonite Brethren Church in Abbotsford, B.C. He has previously served as a youth pastor and associate at King Road, and is a husband and father of two sons in middle school. Leonard shares his love of photography on his personal blog, and dreams of writing more some day.

For Mother’s Day last year, Leonard wrote a litany that beautifully expresses some of the complex feelings around Mother’s Day and the larger vision to love one another deeply. He wrote it for his own congregation, but I believe it speaks more broadly and am glad to share it here with his permission.

Thank you, Leonard, for your ministry with and for your congregation, and for sharing this piece with me and the wider world.

 

Abbreviations used in the following litany:

OM      Older Men

YW       Younger Women

YM       Younger Men

OW      Older Women

 

All          Above all, love each other deeply . . .

OM        I am an older man

YW         I am a younger woman

YM         I am a younger man

OW        I am an older woman

OM        Our story is meant to share “our” story

OW        We need to hear each other

YW         To support each other

YM         To learn from each other

All           we are ALL a part of God’s family.

 

OM        Today is Mother’s Day.

OW        I’m a mother

OM        I have a mother, and I love her.

YW         I also have a mother.

YM         Hey, I have a mother too!

YW         But I’m not a mother. Maybe someday . . .

YM         I’m definitely NOT a mother.

OW        I’m a mother. Thanks for celebrating me today, I think.

YW         You think?

YM         Don’t you love Mother’s Day?

OW        Hmmm, that’s a complicated question.

YM         It is?

YW         It is?

OM        Yes, it is. [pause] Life isn’t always as great as “Hallmark” makes it out to be.

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OW        Years ago, I became a mom!

YW         I love babies! They are so cute!

OW        But it was difficult.

OM        My wife and I tried for years to have a baby . . .

YM         But you adopted, right? That’s so awesome!

OM        But it was difficult!

YW         You mean you had struggles?

OM        Yes, with infertility.

OW        Yes, with postpartum depression and miscarriages.

YM         Wow, I didn’t know that!

OM        We didn’t come to church on Mother’s Day.

YW         I remember when all the moms were asked to stand!

YM         And we got a specific color of flower to wear depending on whether our mom was still alive.

OM        That was difficult for my wife.

OW        That was difficult for me.

YM         Since I was usually goofing off, I’m guessing it might have been difficult for my mom too.

OM        You see, being a father is tough.

OW        Being a mother is tough.

YM/YW Being children is tough.

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OW        But, don’t get me wrong, being a mom was also great!

YW         Homemade cards made at preschool

YM         Picking a dandelion bouquet for my mom

OM        Flowers, chocolates, hugs and kisses

OW        Watching my children grow

YM         Trying new things

YW         Getting taller and taller

YM         Learning to drive

YW         Becoming independent

OM        Getting a tie

OW        Breakfast in bed

OM        And we loved our children all the time

OW        all the time

OM/OW all the time

YW         Pictures on the wall

YM         Awards on the fridge

OM        Working on a project together

OW        Going for a walk together

OM        We love our daughter

OW        I love my son

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OM        But I didn’t always like her.

YW         What?

OW        But I don’t always like him.

YM         What?

OW        Sometimes my child hurt me.

YM         Physically?

YW         Emotionally?

OM        Kept you up for hours at night worrying?

OW        Sometimes my child made a bad choice.

OM        And you wanted to protect them?

YW         To prevent a hurt?

YM         To reverse a decision?

OM        My child decided NOT to follow Jesus.

OW        Coming to church on Mother’s Day still hurts.

YW         My brother battles depression.

YM         My sister is gay.

OM        And these realities impact me as a father

OW        And me as a mother

YW         My sister had a baby at 16

YM         My brother is divorced

OW        And these realities impact me as a mother

OM        And me as a father

YW         And me as a sister

YM         And me as a brother

OW        And me as a grandmother

OM        And me as an uncle

YW         And me as a cousin

YM         And me as a friend

OM        And us . . .

YW         Us?

YM         All of us?

OW        Yes, all of us, as a church

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OM        I’m so glad

OW        I’m so glad I’m a part

OM        I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God

YW         Pardon me?

YM         Huh? Isn’t this Mother’s Day?

OW        Yes, but in the church, we are a family

OM        Brothers

OW        Sisters

YM         Sons

YW         Daughters

OM        Single dads

OW        Widows

YM         Grandparents

YW         Those with many children

OW        And those with none

OM        Those with parents

YM         Those estranged from their parents

OW        Those wanting to get married

YM         Those not wanting to get married

OM        Those who choose to be single

YM         And those who are single but not by their choice

YW         Those who are divorced

OW        Those who are abused

OM        Older men

YW         Younger women

YM         Younger men

OW        Older women

OM        We are all a part of the family of God

YW         All of us?

YM         Yes, all of us!

OW        Regardless of background

OM        Regardless of age

YW         Of gender

YM         Of height or weight

YW         Of marital status

YM         Or past experiences

OW        Or country of origin

OM        We

YW         need

YM         each

OW        other

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OM        It’s tough to be a dad

YW         It’s tough to be a daughter

YM         It’s tough to be a son

OW        And it’s tough to be a mother

YW         Life is busy

YM         We have to have all the right stuff

OM        I work two jobs to make ends meet

OW        And the house is never clean

OM        I love my special needs’ child, but he drains me of all my energy

OW        I love my grandchildren, but I never expected to have to raise them

YW         I love my foster siblings, but they invade my space

YM         I love my parents, but I wish that they would still be together

OM        Sometimes I don’t feel like coming to church

OW        Sometimes I don’t feel like getting dressed in the morning

YM         Sometimes I’m scared

YW         Sometimes I’m lonely and confused

OM        I feel overwhelmed

OW        I feel tired

YW         I don’t know how to cope

YM         I feel sick from all the stress

OW        Is life even worth living?

OM        In this world you will have trouble

YM         No kidding!

YW         I hear ya!

OW        Jesus said that . . .

YM         What?

YW         You’re kidding, right?

OM        In this world you will have trouble

OW        But take heart, I have overcome the world

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OM        And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

OW        by our love

All           And they’ll know we are Christians by our love

OM        We need each other

YW         We ALL need each other

OW        Yes, all of us

YM         But how do we love each other?

OM        Sometimes it is practical

OW        A card

YW         A meal

YM         A visit

OM        Sometimes it’s spiritual

YW         Can I pray for you?

YM         I will pray for you.

OW        Hey, I prayed for you.

OM        Sometimes love has to be tough

YW         Maybe you should watch your language

YM         Or your attitude

OW        And sometimes love is tender and compassionate

YW         Hey, let’s try that again

YM         You can do it!

OM        Let’s read scripture together.

OW        Let’s pray together.

OM        And sometimes we won’t like each other

YM         We’ll argue

YW         We’ll disagree

OM        We’ll break a promise

OW        We’ll disappoint each other

OM        But . . .

OW        But what?

OM        We

YW         won’t

YM         stop

OW        caring

All           Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

OM        Older men

OW        Older women

YM         Younger men

YW         Younger women

OM        You ALL have a place

YW         We all belong

OW        We’re in this together

YM         And God is with us

YW         I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God

YM         Let’s honour our mothers

YW         And our fathers

OW        And our brothers

OM        Our sisters

All          Above all, love each other deeply . . .

 

Writing/reflection prompt: In what ways do you resonate with this litany? What questions does it raise for you?

 

More links for Mother’s Day and loving each other deeply:

The Lap of Jesus – A Liturgy for Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Revisited, and How God is Like Your Mom

Dear Friend Who Doesn’t Like Mother’s Day

15 Bible Verses to Encourage Mothers on Mother’s Day and Beyond

Everbloom: A Gift for Mother’s Day

 

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6 thoughts on “Love Each Other Deeply

  1. Using the term “special needs” smacks of ableism. How about “differently abled?”

  2. Sorry, auto – correct got me! Disabled, not differently – abled or special needs, please and thanks!

  3. I appreciate your concern for language, Linda. As I understand it, the British Columbia education system uses the designation “special needs” which is tied to funding for various support services, so with that context the litany made sense to me. But your comment prompted me to do some research, and I found this helpful resource: http://sudcc.syr.edu/LanguageGuide/.

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