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.