Good morning everyone and I hope you are well. It seems spring is upon us and we have the better weather to come, I am sure this will lift your spirits, it certainly lifts mine. Mothering Sunday is a lovely break in Lent when we can have flowers in church and I know it is a feast day so technically you are allowed to break your fast. I decide not to break the chocolate fast as it would be too hard to go back to it later, I’ll just wait for the Easter eggs.
Talking of Easter eggs we will have an Easter Egg raffle and Egg hunt on Easter Sunday when we will hopefully have lifted all our restrictions and have gone back to processing and all the other traditions we were familiar with in our service.
Mothering Sunday was a time when people living away from home came back to visit their “mother church” and family of course, but today there is more emphasis on mothers than the church, although it is always a lovely service with a hint of spring hope for us all. We must remember however that it is a sad and emotional time for those whose mothers are no longer with us and we remember them in our hearts and prayers.
Intercessions are by myself and thank you to Rev Hannah for doing the reflection
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
A song of St. Anselm
Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you. You are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride, tenderly you draw hatred and judgement.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds, in sickness you nurse us and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life, by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness; through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead, your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us; in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness, for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us
We praise you our God, for all mothers who have loved and laughed and laboured as they cared for their children.
Blessed be God forever.
Almighty God our heavenly Father we have sinned against you and against our neighbour in thought word and deed, through negligence, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault. We are truly sorry and repent of all our sins. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ who died for us, forgive us all that is past and grant that we may serve you in newness of life to the glory of your name. Amen.
Lord have mercy. Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy. Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.
God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, shared the life of a home in Nazareth, and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself: strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
THE OLD TESTAMENT READING
EXODUS 2. 1-10
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’
LUKE 2. 33-35
Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke. Glory to you O Lord.
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you O Christ.
The poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote these words:
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
On Mothering Sunday we often get wrapped up in the people we identify as ‘mum’ or ‘grandma’ or other such caregivers that have had a biological or legal duty towards us. Advertisements and supermarkets would have us believe that this time is simply a well placed day to spoil mum with fresh spring flowers and other such frippery. But some people may no longer have a mum, grandma, aunty etc. These people may have passed away or they may have been left behind for one reason or another. And I cannot adequately sum up the sense of loss that this might bring.
But I would say that does not mean you are no longer ‘mothered’.
The memory of those people and how they have shaped you is a lasting legacy to them. Their teaching, guidance and love for you will have influenced you as you have grown. Just as the love, guidance and wisdom sent from our Lord will continue to influence and shape you as you continue to grow in his love.
Whilst I agree that it is right to thank and give thanks for those that look after us, I much prefer to think of today as a celebration of love. Motherly love, yes, but beyond that, to love in all its forms. In its earthly form in our love for one another and in its heavenly form, the love of our God, towards us, the children.
If we think deeper into what we mean by ‘mother’ and look beyond our relatives, caregivers and even beyond the female persona. You can easily start to identify the ways in which our God mothers us. ‘Mum’ is special and whoever you most identify in this role will always have a place in your heart. But if we take the time to add our God into that special place too, then we will always carry his devotion and love with us.
There has been lots written about thinking of God as a mother. To take from the poem I used earlier, it states “there is no term more devotional than that of ‘mother’”.Surely, then, we can relate this to the devotion that God shows towards us, his children? And if we continue to look at mothering as a form of love, sent to us from heaven, then we will start to identify where we are ‘mothered’, and in turn, where we ‘mother’ others by showing his love to those around us.
We see mothering in so many places where there is nobody who is obviously ‘mum’. Our Gospel reading is one such example, where we hear how Pharaoh’s daughter takes on Moses. Our Churches offer a whole host of examples:
We see it in the kindly congregation members who welcome us in and teach us about the ways of the church family.
We see it in those who give up their time to help others, from volunteering to lead groups and nurturing those with questions, or in those who move chairs and make the tea and coffee and ensuring we are well looked after when we come to meet together.
We can see it in the children, as they care for each other and teach each other (Don’t do it that way, do it like this…)
We see it in the godparents who nurture our spirituality at the beginning of our journey and support us as we grow in our relationship with God
If we take the time to look for this love then you will see it all around. These are our ways of showing God’s love to one another.
God’s love is a love that is sacrificial. And at this time of year, as we approach Easter we can identify this sacrifice in the example of Jesus. He shows that we are so loved, he is prepared to die for us and at Easter that is made very clear with his crucifixion.
We are all part of God’s family. He is devoted to us as his children and we in turn should be able to embrace all God’s children and welcome them with a love which is ‘motherly’. I pray that as we leave here today, we do so with the intention of giving thanks for those who have shown love to us. And as we go about our lives this week let us pray that we will show motherly love to all God’s children in the same way that he does.
I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, and is seated on the right hand of the Father; he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
During the intercessions, we pray for the church, our country, our government, people in difficulty and those who have died. You can use your own prayers or if you prefer here are some on today’s theme.
Lord we give you thanks for our mother church and ask that all that are part of it, can show your love and faith in us. Bless our leaders and preachers and those who spread your word through their actions or explanations and in this way help to guide us in your truth and light.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
We give thanks for all who are newly born into this world. We ask your blessing upon them, especially any who suffer from neglect, violence or abuse. We remember all unwanted children, all who are vulnerable or in danger, all who are born into poverty or famine. We rejoice in the gift of life and the loving care that is around us.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
Lord, thank you for our homes and loved ones. We thank you today especially for our mother and all loving relationships. As we are given tender loving care, let us show our appreciation by returning that love in the way we live and in our dealings with each other.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer
We remember in your presence all who are separated from their loved ones through illness or separation, we think especially of refugees in Syria, Yemen and Ukraine. We pray for children who have lost their parents in war torn countries and ask you to bless them and bring them hope of a brighter future.
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer.
God comfort and strengthen all who have lost loved ones this year, especially those who have lost their mother as this day can be a difficult time for them. We remember all our loved ones departed. We look forward in faith and in hope to the time when we can be at home with you in your kingdom.
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For the Kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.
May God who gave birth to all creation, bless us; may God who became incarnate by an earthly mother, bless us; may God who broods as a mother over her children, bless us. May almighty God bless us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.