St John the Baptist, Felixstowe – Sermon for Mothering Sunday 22 March 2020
Terry Gibb – Reader and Churchwarden
May I speak in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost
A 102 year old lady was asked if she had any worries in life. After a pause she replied – ‘not anymore now that I have got my youngest son into an old folks home.’
A ten year old was heard saying ‘Never let your mum brush your hair when she’s mad at your dad’.
And a thirteen year old girl learnt one of life’s lessons ‘When you get bad marks at school tell your mum when she is on the phone’.
Mothers never stop worrying and sometimes children worry about their parents and the things they do
Yes- today is Mothering Sunday. And contrary to what all the shops in Felixstowe are saying it is not Mothers Day
A – that is American and
B – that is in May
Mothering Sunday is a tradition dating back to the 16th century, when there was few holidays and children as young as ten were sent to work away from home
And they would be given this- the middle Sunday of Lent – to go home and visit their families. They quite often baked a cake to show off their new skills – a Simnel Cake – and as they walked home they would gather violets and primroses to give to their mothers and to take to church
Today is a day when we express our thanks to to our mothers, celebrate motherhood and to give thanks for the care of the church and to reflect on God’s loving nature
But is Mothering Sunday only for mums. Is it really so exclusive?
You know -if you are mum you are in and if not you are out. Dads go home.
Unfortunately that is the increasing view of the secular world, the media, wanting us to buy into this mythical world of one Mum, one Dad, and 2.4 children
But the church knows that no feast day can or should be exclusive to just one sector of society.
Surely we all had a mother. I miss my mother, although she died when I was in my twenties and and I am always sad that she did not see her grandchildren grow up
And I realise that others may not have such good memories. Who may not have had a close relationship with their mothers, who suffer the pangs of guilt for things said or unsaid, actions now regretted, of mothers who have deserted the family home. Perhaps today is the time to put this hurt into the hands of God, to seek reconciliation and move forward.
And most people know that motherhood is often less than idyllic.
From the tantrums of the toddler, through illnesses, the scrapes and breakages [Mum, Martins bleeding into the fish pond. Will it hurt the fish?]
Then the grunts that form the conversation with teenagers onto disasters like learning to drive [ Honestly Mum the car jumped into the hedge by itself]
Then to the temptations of drugs, alcohol and sex, deafening music, apparently unsavoury friends and just plain bad decisions.
At times mothers must feel like another emergency service without the blue flashing lights. Motherhood is not always idyllic. You must have heard the phrase ‘I’ll always love you but at the moment I don’t like you very much’.
Mary the mother of Christ also had problems. Remember when Jesus stayed behind in the temple and the panic that it caused Mary, not for a moment did he think his parents might be worried. Perhaps even Jesus as a small boy was little different to our own sons.
And the final verse in today’s gospel reading ‘And a sword will pierce your own soul.’ I wonder if Mary remembered these incidents as she stood at the foot of the cross.
And of course the church today is only too aware of those who do not have children, the hurt that some couples must feel wishing they had children but for whatever reasons do not, those who have remained single, the divorced who have difficulty accessing their children and the consciously uncoupled to quote a modern phrase.
Is the church ignoring those people today? I certainly hope not.
The reason these young people were allowed home on Mothering Sunday, as well as visiting their parents, was so that these family groups could attend their local church – their Mother Church
The role of the church after its primary function of worshipping God is the cure or care of all its souls.
And in doing this the church hopefully does its best to reflect the love of God, the Father, in sending Christ his only son to die on the cross for the redemption of all the world
We are told “God so loved the world that he gave us his son” And that is the depth of love we celebrate today. Some trendy preachers would like us all to call God Mother. I am a bit too old for that but anybody who reads the bible can see that God can mother better than anyone.
If you look back through the OT, you can see God the mother. the Hebrews, are led out of slavery by Moses acting on the strength of God.. Boy weren’t they like 2 year olds. Fickle, devious, complaining, disobedient
He saves them from the pursuing Egyptians , guides them, feeds them on Manna, – they probably would have preferred melons and figs – and he gives them basic laws on how to live decent live but while they were waiting they created material idols to worship
And even when they settled in a land flowing with milk and honey they quickly forgot the rules. Abusing the vulnerable, exploiting the poor and indulging in non christian practices,
But God continued to mother them, initially guiding them cajoling them and in today’s language putting them on the naughty step.
They grew from squabbling children to become mutinous and rebellious teenagers.
God then says they need a stronger lesson so he lets the Assyrians cart them off to exile.
After a long time they are allowed to return, and for many years God remains quiet until he devises the ultimate plan of sending his son on a rescue mission of love and redemption. He is a mother figure better than any other.
We might not be actual mothers but we are Christ’s hands and feet here on earth.
We are strengthened by the Holy Spirit and sustained by his body and blood. We may not be able to save our material , celebrity loving society but we can all do our bit to mother those around us.
Since starting to prepare this sermon the world has suddenly changed. I will no longer be able to preach the sermon in church as all church services are now cancelled. Many will not be able to visit their mums. Let us still give thanks for our Mums and do what we can to help them .
And let us pray that God our Mother will sustain us and get us all through the problems that face us today.