A little Jonny Cash for this GoodFriday. please click on the link for the video.
Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward, by John Donne
This is one of my favourite poems, John Donne perfectly blends a formal complex style with the very human desire of repentance, of turning around, to becoming more Christ like (O think me worth Thine anger, punish me, Burn off my rust, and my deformity; Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,). It’s a poem that has spoken strongly to me several years over, and contains too much for me to delve into now, so I will leave this with you for your own reflections on this holy day.
Let man’s soul be a sphere, and then, in this,
Th’ intelligence that moves, devotion is;
And as the other spheres, by being grown
Subject to foreign motion, lose their own,
And being by others hurried every day,
Scarce in a year their natural form obey;
Pleasure or business, so, our souls admit
For their first mover, and are whirl’d by it.
Hence is’t, that I am carried towards the west,
This day, when my soul’s form bends to the East.
There I should see a Sun by rising set,
And by that setting endless day beget.
But that Christ on His cross did rise and fall,
Sin had eternally benighted all.
Yet dare I almost be glad, I do not see
That spectacle of too much weight for me.
Who sees God’s face, that is self-life, must die;
What a death were it then to see God die?
It made His own lieutenant, Nature, shrink,
It made His footstool crack, and the sun wink.
Could I behold those hands, which span the poles
And tune all spheres at once, pierced with those holes?
Could I behold that endless height, which is
Zenith to us and our antipodes,
Humbled below us? or that blood, which is
The seat of all our soul’s, if not of His,
Made dirt of dust, or that flesh which was worn
By God for His apparel, ragg’d and torn?
If on these things I durst not look, durst I
On His distressed Mother cast mine eye,
Who was God’s partner here, and furnish’d thus
Half of that sacrifice which ransom’d us?
Though these things as I ride be from mine eye,
They’re present yet unto my memory,
For that looks towards them; and Thou look’st towards me,
O Saviour, as Thou hang’st upon the tree.
I turn my back to thee but to receive
Corrections till Thy mercies bid Thee leave.
O think me worth Thine anger, punish me,
Burn off my rust, and my deformity;
Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace,
That Thou mayst know me, and I’ll turn my face.
Well, I’m happy to officially call it spring on this glorious day, and after the recent cold, windy and wet weather we had at the end of last week and over the weekend. I know many other places are still battling the winter elements, but after viewing my churches website, I felt it needed a change, so check out our new spring theme including the dates for this Holy Week and Easter.
Last Christmas a number of clergy from Ardudwy Deanery and Llŷn & Eifionydd Deanary got together to organise and run a Christmas roadshow which went around different churches, inviting schools to bring their children for a half day of activities, films and drama which helped tell the Christmas story.
This year it is just the clergy from Ardudwy Deanery, but over the three weeks leading to the school half term, they will tell around 450 children the events of the first Holy Week and the first Easter using film, games, craft and drama.
Is been really exciting to be part of the organising team this time, last Christmas I only helped with the technical side, but it’s been really interesting to see things from the other side and how easy the organisation has been. In reality it would be very difficult to put on an event like this on your own, but because we work in a team it has made it all possible. It’s great to bounce ideas around and develop something that will both engage the kids and explain to them the story and importance of Christ’s death and resurrection.
We pray for the children we meet, their families and teachers, that they will find new joy in the easter season, and come to a new and deeper relationship with Christ.
A very kind colleague allowed me to edit and use this sermon.
Now we’re going to hear from 3 special Mothers whose stories are told in the Bible
Let’s hear what they have to tell us ….
MUM 1 – My name is Hannah , I prayed to God and he gave me my son. I called him Samuel, which means ’God Hears’. I promised God that Samuel would grow up in his presence, so when he was very young I took him to the house of the lord—the Tabernacle– and now my son is being cared for by priests there. Every year I go back and take him anew linen tunic. I can see how big and strong he is becoming.
MUM 2 – My name is Jochebed. I’m a slave in Egypt and my son Moses was born 3 months ago. Pharaoh hates our people and is killing all the baby boys. I’ve kept Moses hidden for as long as I could , but today I had to get him away from the Pharaoh’s soldiers. I made basket like this out of reeds and tucked him safely inside it. I prayed that God would take care of him and then I let the basket float away on the River Nile, with Moses inside. His sister has run after him to see where God and the river will take him .
MUM 3 – I have always known that my beloved son , Jesus doesn’t really belong to me. He is God’s son, and I was chosen to be his mother. Today we presented him in the temple. An old man there recognised Jesus as the saviour, but said that not everyone would accept him. He talked about the glory my son would bring to God’s people, but he also told me that my heart would be broken. I don’t know exactly what God has in store for his Son—I just have to trust him.
So, what happened to the children of these stories?
became a great prophet. He was God’s spokesman. He chose the first 2 kings of Israel ..
Became a great leader. He led God’s people to freedom. He gave them God’s law
Told stories. Made miracles happen and showed people what God is like. He died on a cross for our sake. He rose from the dead. He has given us the gift of eternal life with God .
Each mother had to let their children go before they could fully be who there are.
I want to tell you about another mother from a program I watched about the parents of young people with learning difficulties and special needs and the worries faced by those parents about the long term independence of their children.
Richard, is a young man in his early 20’s with Down’s Syndrome. He is a happy, friendly young man who, while never able to manage without some help, is quite able to look after himself.
His mother found him a flat, not too far away from the family home, where he would be able to live independently with his own front door and his own key. The authorities were able to offer him 16 hours of support from Carers a week along with the care he got from his parents.
He was very excited about moving out.
After a few weeks though he had to leave his flat, the presenter asked him ‘What went wrong?’. He replied ‘Bad people, silly, naughty.’ His neighbours couldn’t accept a face that was a bit different and tormented him. They swore at him, knocked on his door and shouted abuse and turned his electricity off. They would only do this when he was alone. He wasn’t able to answer back or deal with the abuse and he soon got scared of being along. He had to give up the flat and move back in with his parents.
His mother knows this can’t be a long term solution, he needs his independence. She said ‘it’s not something we’re looking forward to but we have to let him go. But I’m scared it will happen again’.
It’s hard enough to let someone you love go when you have high hopes for their future. How much harder when experience has taught you that your child could face abuse and alienation?
All mothers worry about their children, Hannah, Jochebed, Mary, and Richards mother all cared and worried about their children. All of them also did one of the most scary thing for any loving parent to do, letting them go. Because if we are not given the chance to step into the world by ourselves, we can never become the people we are called to be.
God also does this with each one of us. He knows we will make the wrong choices, sin, and face hardships. He could save us from all of this by not letting us make our own choices, live our own lives, but he doesn’t precisely because he loves us.
Mothers do a great job for us, they help us in every way we need, and more often go beyond that also Last year we thought about all the qualities that goes into mothering, all those qualities those people poses who care for us.
Mothering Sunday is about mothers, but it is also about those who care for us, those who love us and want the best for us, those who love us enough even to let us go. Let us take a few moments to think about all those people who have helped us, taught us, guided us, understood us, cared for us, loved us. To think about all those who have helped us be the people we are today. To think about those who are currently guiding us to be the people God wants us to be in the future. And we give a special thanks today, for those who have raised us, our mothers, and those who have acted like mothers to us.
A 100 year old woman was asked if she had any worries. She replied ‘No. Not now I have my youngest son into an old people’s home’.
I guess parents never stop worrying about their children.
Sometimes, it’s the children that worry about their parents and the things that they do.
A 10 year old girl called Sophie once told me that, ‘When your mum or dad are mad about something, never ever, let them brush your hair!’
Some people think that our celebration of Mothers Day is just another American import, or a holiday made up to sell more cards. But Mothering Sunday has been celebrated much further back.
In the 16th century, or the 1500’s if you prefer, many people would worship at their nearest Parish Church, but would make a special journey in the middle of Lent to the ‘mother’ church, which was often the Cathedral. Can you imagine us all making the journey to go to Bangor to worship today?
Also in these times, there were very few holidays, and children as young as 10 years old would be sent away to work.
This middle Sunday of Lent was given to these young people as a day off so that they could visit their mothers and their families.
Girls often worked in large domestic houses as cleaners or in the kitchens, and would bake a cake to show off the new skills they had learnt.
As they walked home across the county, they would also gather wild flowers to give to their mums as a gift, and also some to take to church.
We are very lucky now that we are not sent away when we are young to work, or have to walk great distances to visit our families. But we still use this Sunday to celebrate Mothers and Mothering, to give thanks to God for all the care we receive.
There are lots of people who help look after us. Mums, Dads, Nains and Taids are just some, but can anyone else think of people who help look after us?????
(teachers, lollypop ladies and men, police, fire, ambulance, post man, friends, colleagues, priest, doctor, nurse, God)
Great, we have quite a list there. There are lots of people that help look after us. Now I want us to think about how they look after us, what qualities do these people show when they are looking after people. I’m going to ask some of our children, and maybe one or two of our big children to come out and help write some words on our person here which help describe some of the characteristics of Mothering. I’ll start off with the word love.
(kindness, compassion, bravery, generous, caring, protection, security, tears, nurturing, beautiful, unselfish, giving, thoughtful, unconditional loving, patient, forgiving, creative, helpful, fun, strong, humorous, graceful, joyful, playful, loyal, trustworthy, hard working, empathetic, energetic, honest, practical, troubleshooter, understanding)
Wow, what a list, all things that we think of as mothering.
I want to read to you again some bits from the epistle to the Colossians and you can shout out an stop me if there are any words there you think should be added, because this reading is about how we should live and treat other people.
‘As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. ‘
I want to end this part of the service by thinking quickly about our gospel reading. We have had lots of words which help us think about Mothering, and all the different people who mother us, and most of these are positive words. But sometimes being a mother and mothering someone can be very hard as Mary the mother of Jesus knew. Our gospel comes from when Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to be named and dedicated to God, and here they are told that she would go through great pain.
No parent expects to outlive their children, and it must have been heart breaking for Mary to see her son killed, but of course three days later she would have been overjoyed to hear that Jesus had conquered death and was alive.
So on this Mothering Sunday let us thank God for our mothers. Not just what they have done for us but who they are.
Let us remember too that Mary is an model not just of motherhood but of Christian willingness to undergo suffering to further God’s purpose. We can learn from her example of submission to God’s will and seek to imitate this.