10th March – Andrea’s Letter: Mothering Sunday

10th March 2024

Mothering Sunday     4th Sunday of Lent 2024

Today we celebrated Mothering Sunday.  We were accompanied by Hugh as we sang joyfully, during the last hymn flowers were given out.  Thank you, Helen and Liz, for putting the posies together.

Don’t forget the Lent group is still taking place on Thursday afternoons at All Saints 3pm. The book we are studying is “Rooted in Love” Lent reflections on Life in Christ introduced by Rt Rev Sarah Mullallay, The Bishop of London.

Also available is the Ignatius Spirituality Centre Lent Retreat both online https://www.onlineprayer.net/ and in book format which Steve Parratt is very kindly able to provide.  The theme is Through Lent with Pope Francis, drawing on some of the wisdom in the Pope’s homilies and encyclicals over the past 10 years covering some important themes, such as mercy, friendship, love and care.

The Bishop’s Lent appeal this year is in aid of “Friends of the Holy Land.” It’s a charity which supports Christians in the Holy land.  You can donate online or through the church.  Details available next week.

Looking ahead….
Saturday 16th March 10-12pm there will be a session to tidy up the garden.  All welcome to help.
Saturday 23rd March 2pm church walk.  Meet at Caulders Car Park, visitor’s centre, Mugdock for a circular walk, finishing with tea in the café.

This Week
Monday 3pm – Vestry – Garden Room
Tuesday 10am – Prayer Group in the Garden Room.
Thursday 10am – Said Holy Communion followed by coffee in Friendship House
Thursday 3pm – Lent Group All Saints Hall
Saturday 10-12pm – Garden Tidy session

Readings for next Sunday – 5th Sunday in Lent – Passion Sunday – Jeremiah 31:31-43    Hebrews 5:5-10   John 12:20-30

Today’s readings – Exodus 2:1-10,  2 Corinthians 1:3-7,  Luke 2:33-35

Mothering Sunday is a festival which always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent.  It dates to medieval times when people made pilgrimages to their mother church, which was their cathedral church, later by about the17th century it became the custom for young people in domestic service to return home to see their mothers and family bearing gifts of spring flowers.

Nowadays it has become a somewhat more secular and commercial event, but it is still an occasion to acknowledge the wonder of motherhood and to show appreciation for all who have cared for us.

In the bible we have various illustrations of motherhood. In the Old Testament we heard the charming story of Moses in the bulrushes, we hear how Pharaoh’s daughter saves and looks after the baby boy, she cares for him and nurtures him takes responsibility for him as if he were her own.

In the gospels both Luke and Matthew open with the birth narrative stories concluding in Luke with the presentation of Jesus in the temple where we hear the chilling words of Simeon to Mary, “and a sword will pierce your own soul too” referring to the deep pain of motherhood on witnessing your own child’s suffering.

In John’s gospel we have the very moving scene of Jesus on the cross dying in great pain but thinking of the welfare of his mother and his dearest disciple.

However, in all the gospels Jesus’ message of love is far out reaching.  It goes much further than the parameters of the family, “Who are my brothers and sisters” he says. Matt 12:48

Love is not an emotion saved only for family members, Christian love is for all people, we are all brothers and sisters in the love of Christ.

For many people mothering Sunday is a painful time Many of us no longer have our mothers with us. So, it’s a time of reflection of what has been and, in some case, what might have been but wasn’t.

Mothering Sunday is relational in its nature, and relationships are all about feelings and emotion.  At the heart of many of our relationships is the emotion of love.  But as we all know love can be costly and love can be painful.

In the gospel this morning we have the wonderful scene of Mary entering the temple with her newborn son to present him to the Lord.  Guided by the Holy Spirit Simeon also enters the temple at the same time.  He blesses the baby – he is full of praise and adoration as it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die till he had seen the Messiah. In great joy and celebration, he says,

“Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”  Luke 2:29-32

But then he says the words “And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” Luke 2:35

Mary must have felt a chill down her spine on hearing those words.  For they are words which foretell the passion, the crucifixion, and so by implication the costliness and pain of love.

In the stories of our lives, I’m sure we can all recall many times when our souls may have been pierced.  Simeon’s words may speak of pierced souls, but his main message is Salvation “for my eyes have seen your salvation” he says  Luke 2.30

Salvation – this is what we will be celebrating as we gather at Easter. The baby we read about in this morning’s gospel, presented in the temple by his mother, was the long-awaited messiah.  He would grow up to teach a gospel of love and forgiveness, healing our souls and relationships, and he would ultimately rise from death to new life, bringing new life to all.

I was very moved by last Sunday’s final episode of Call the Midwife, the very successful long running series set in the 60’s East End of London featuring an Order of Anglican nuns responsible for local community and midwifery services. This episode was set in the context of mothering with themes of love, loss and adoption running through it. Part of the story line was a competition for Mother of the Year with various mothers and carers being put forward. But in the end, it was Sister Julienne who was selected.

Sister Julienne, played superbly by Jenny Agutter, was the senior sister of the Order who always showed  love and compassion to everyone including her fellow sisters in the order, her colleagues, her patients.  Her love was freely and generously given – a great example of sacrificial and unconditional love.

So, Sister Julienne who had never been a mother herself was the Mother of the Year simply on account of her mothering to all whom she came across. Through her vocation she brought comfort, solace and hope to all she met.

And this surely reflects God’s love for us as we are reminded in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians which we have just heard.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”   2 Corinthians 1:3