Morning Service Sunday 22nd March 2020
Talk - Brenda Pegman.
Starting Prayer: Lord guide my lips and my words, so that they are pleasing to you, my strength and my redeemer.
Many people celebrate Mother's Day in their own way, from children preparing Mum a much deserved breakfast in bed to older children visiting or treating their mother’s with a gift or perhaps taking them out for a treat. Some may not even celebrate this day at all. But while we see it as a universal day of affection and celebration, Mother’s Day isn’t technically what you think it is, not even the same thing as “Mothering Sunday” Mothering Sunday began as an explicitly religious event of the 16th Century, with no connections to mothers at all. The word “Mothering” referred to the “Mother Church” which is to say, the main church or cathedral of the region.
In England it became a tradition that on the fourth Sunday of Lent, people would return to their Mother church or to where they had been baptised for a special service and this pilgrimage was known as “going a-mothering” and became something of a holiday event, domestic servants were given the day off to visit their own families as well as their mother church.
In those days it was quite common for children both boys and girls to leave home for work once they were 10 years old. They would walk along country lanes collecting wild flowers to either decorate the church, or to give to their mothers. Many traditions arose around Mothering Sunday, mostly around food, other names were attributed to the forth Sunday in lent. I wonder if any of you remember or have heard of them:
· Simnel Sunday – A rich fruit cake topped with marzipan, with 11 marzipan balls set on top, representing 11 disciples minus Judas
· The practice of baking simnel cakes was to celebrate the reuniting of families during the austerity of Lent. Because there is, traditionally, a relaxation of the Lenten vows on this particular Sunday in celebration of the fellowship of family and church.
· Once known as the “Sunday of the Five Loaves” from Johns’ Gospel a set reading for this day about Jesus feeding the 5000
· So all you out there who have given up sweet treats for Lent, today you can have some!! Because it is also called....... Refreshment Sunday.
· Different names appear in other parts of the country
Around the early 19th Century this celebration slowly died off, it wasn’t until 1914 that the name Mothers Day was recognised in America, our own Constance Penswick/Smith wanted to revive the more religiously flavoured Mothering Sunday in England, which continues today. Although many people today believe Mother’s Day is overly commercialised, and I think we could all agree on that.Mothers’ Day can be a very emotional time for many people and for many reasons, especially where their experience of Mothers has not been as it should, or if they have experienced either a loss of a child or mother, suffered neglect or abuse, maybe not able to have children, and memories are more heightened on this day. However, over time family dynamics have changed and the word maternal love has become more enhanced in our society. God brings the right person for the right circumstances, to take on these caring tasks. We have wonderful people who care by, fostering, or adoption, or just giving support by helping where they can, carers who come into the home or work in nursing or residential homes, people who are warm and loving, godparents, grandparents, close family, Church family and leaders or maybe good friends. You don’t have to be a mother to take on a nurturing role.
God tells us to Honour our Father and Mother, and that can be no easy task, even Jesus himself caused his mother Mary grief - on one occasion Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Passover celebrations, and it took the family three days to find him, and when they did, the 12 year old Jesus could not understand why they were frantic with worry, he just replies “why were you searching for me, didn’t you know I had to be in my Fathers’ house.” No..... at that time they didn’t!! And I am sure some of you know how Mary and Joseph must have felt, if ever you have experienced one of your children wandering off while out shopping or out on a trip.
In the gospels we get many glimpses of Gods character, perhaps even a maternal side of his caring, nurturing love for his people.
· When we hear about Jesus feeding the 5000, he was not only feeding the hungry with food, but spiritually feeding them as well – Jesus uses a mothers’ packed lunch for her young son to achieve this miracle. A hint maybe of the last supper, and Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross – his body and blood given for us. GOD WHO KEEPS GIVING
· In those times, it was customary for mothers to bring their children to a Rabbi for a blessing, and Luke tells us there were many gathered around Jesus, the disciples thought the children unworthy of Jesus’ time, less important, and tried to push them away, to their surprise Jesus welcomed them with open arms and love. Jesus wants us to become like a child, to have the kind of faith and trust needed to enter Gods’ Kingdom. GOD THE TENDER HEARTED
· The apostle John in our reading today makes a point of telling us that Jesus considered his mother Mary’s future, even whilst dying on the cross, Jesus knew her grief would be immeasurable, so he gave divine comfort, Jesus did not assign this task to his brothers, he entrusted his friend John, the one who had stayed at the foot of the cross with him, and also grieving, to take on this responsibility of caring for his mother Mary. Mary was given a son, his friend a Mother; both would always have something of Jesus with them. GOD THE COMFORTER
· Jesus both honoured and obeyed his Heavenly Father, on his path to Calvary. GOD THE SAVIOUR
It is in the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians that gives us other clues to how God wants to work in us. He tells us to cloth ourselves with tender hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and ready forgive. Why... because this is what God already does to us, age is no barrier to Christ Jesus, never think you are too young or too old to be of service to him.Don’t forget we all belong to the family of God, families are precious gifts from God, Church families, extended families, however diverse they may be. If we keep God in the centre, we can begin to experience the spiritual bond that God brings, making us stronger to cope with whatever life throws at us. Let God worry about the wrongs you may have suffered, because he wants us to live renewed in love and joy. What love!!
And it binds us all together, one body united, called to live in peace and to love one another as he loves us.
So on this Mothering Sunday I would like to finish with a prayer written by Helen Mckinnon from the book “Women of Prayer” and how she prays to the maternal side of God.
“Loving like a mother, trusting like a child” Helena McKinnon
Mother me, my Father
That I may step unbowed
From safe within your haven
To face a hostile crowd
Mother me, my Father
And help to ease the pain
Of taunts and tears and teasing,
And make me love again
Mother me, my Father
With hands so deeply scarred
That I may touch some other
Whose suffering is hard
Mother me, my Father
That all my life be styled
On loving like a mother
And trusting like a child.
You can also listen to Matthew's talk for St Matthew's for 22/03/2020 entitled Hannah's Prayer here