Feast Day of My Blessed Mother, LaNita Kaye (Holt) Gillespie

Today marks the anniversary of my Mother’s passing through the thin veil of this world’s realm to the Otherworld of God’s Realm. So, in honor of my Mother, I thought I’d do something a little different—I’d create a Feast Day for her.

Throughout church history, feast days are days that are set aside in honor of those saints who’ve gone before us. There’s the familiar ones—Christmas (the Feast Day of the birth of Jesus), Easter (the Feast Day of the Resurrection), the Feast Day of St Brigit, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Feast Day of Saint Francis, etc.—as well as some that aren’t as well known—the Feast Day of Saint Cellach of Glendalough, the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary, etc. And while my Mother would be the first to tell you she wasn’t a saint, she would certainly say she was blessed.

So in the tradition of those who have gone before us, I mark 7 October as the Feast Day of My Blessed Mother, LaNita Kaye (Holt) Gillespie. And on this Holy Day, I offer this liturgy in her honor. It’s been compiled and notated from various sources. The scripture quotations will be from The Message, her favorite Bible translation.


Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.
William Makepeace Thackeray

In you, O God, every family on earth receives its name.
Illumine our homes with the light of your love.

We thank you for gifts of love we have received.
From our mothers
and those who have served as mothers in many ways,
nourishing us and guiding us as we grow to be who we are.

As we’ve been loved by them,
so we’re loved by you, O God.

Join with us in this day of celebration
as we rejoice in being loved.

As you grant us peace in Christ Jesus our Redeemer,
so we come to worship in His holy name.
First United Church, Mocksville, North Carolina (adapted)

O Divine Parent,
Your life pulses in each of our hearts,
and your love permeates each of our lives.
We, your daughters and sons, praise you.

Your care sustains us in each moment,
and your compassion guides us in each situation.
We, your daughters and sons, praise you.

When we fall, you lift us,
when we fail, you restore us,
When we’re wounded, you nurse us,
when we grieve, you weep with us.
We, your daughters and sons, praise you.

But, we’ve failed to love as you do,
we’ve abused our bodies and those of others,
we’ve filled our minds with selfish dreams,
and violent plans,
we’ve made our hearts cold and empty of compassion,
we’ve forgotten our spirits,
and distorted your image within us.

As a mother disciplines her children,
we ask you to discipline us;
As a mother forgives the daughters and sons who hurt her,
we ask you to forgive us;
As a mother calls her children to be reconciled with their siblings,
we ask you to lead us to reconciliation with one another.
John van de Laar (adapted)

Words of Absolution
⊕ The all-loving God forgive all our sins, and keep us walking in love, through the Spirit, for Christ’s Sake.
Yahweh, my shepherd!
    I don’t need a thing.
You’ve bedded me down in lush meadows,
    you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word,
    you let me catch my breath
    and send me in the right direction.
Even when the way goes through
    Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
    when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook
    makes me feel secure.
You serve me a six-course dinner
    right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head;
    my cup brims with blessing.
Your beauty and love chase after me
    every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
    for the rest of my life.

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
He was in the world,
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
but they didn’t want him.
But whoever did want him,
who believed he was who he claimed to be
and would do what he said he’d do,
He made them to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
These are the God-begotten,
not blood-begotten,
nor flesh-begotten,
    nor sex-begotten.
The Word became flesh and blood,
    and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
    the one-of-a-kind glory,
    like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
    true from start to finish.
We all live off his generous bounty,
        gift after gift after gift.
   We got the basics from Moses,
        and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
   This endless knowing and understanding—
        all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
   No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
   But this one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

A couple of my Mother’s favorite hymns.

Prayers of the People
O God, you’re so like a mothering hen to us,
You cry over us, protect us, and care for us;
God we thank you for mothering us
And we thank you for the mothers of the world.

O God, you’re the Vine dresser,
you make sure the vine is healthy and strong,
we thank you for making sure
we’re healthy, and strong.

O God, you’re like a loving mother,
You nourish us with your love and grace every day.
Oh God, we thank you loving us like a mother.

Lord, we pray now for those
who need your healing, and caring touch.
Hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are the ones among us
whose mothers have died or are dying.
Hear our prayer.

Lord in your mercy put your arms around each one
and hold them in your tender embrace of love.
Hear our prayer.

O God, we thank you for tending to us,
we thank you for your wise counsel,
We thank you for pruning those things
that suck the very life out of us
and keep us from abiding in you.
Rev. Abi (adapted)

The Collect
Good and Gentle God, we pray in gratitude for our mothers, especially my Mother, LaNita Kaye Gillespie, and for all the women who have joined with you in the wonder of bringing forth new life. You who became human through a woman, grant to all mothers the courage they need to face the uncertain future that life with children always brings. Give them the strength to live and to be loved in return, not perfectly, but humanly. Give them the faithful support of partners, family, and friends as they care for the physical and spiritual growth of their children. Give them joy and delight in their children to sustain them through the challenges of motherhood. Most of all, give them the wisdom to turn to you for help when they need it most.
Author unknown (adapted).

The Lord’s Prayer
Eternal One,
Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father-Mother of us all,
Loving God, in whom all creation dwells:

The holiness of your name echoes throughout the universe!
May your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!
May your heavenly will be done by all created beings!
May your realm of peace and freedom sustain our hope
and be manifested in creation.

With the food we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power of love,
now and ever, and unto the ages of ages.

The New Zealand Prayer Book (adapted from the Maori)

God has told us, “As a mother comforts her child, so I’ll comfort you” (Isa. 66:13). Go now in the comfort and peace of the One who gave birth to us. Go in the assurance that the Comforter is with us always. Go to give comfort and peace to others. Divine Wisdom guide us as we go forth on Her paths of peace. May She give us blessings more precious than silver or gold. May we find joy in sharing these blessings with others. May Wisdom empower us to change our world!

Jann Aldredge-Clanton (adapted)


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