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Mothering Sunday

Today’s Readings

Psalm 127:1-4, Exodus 2:1-10 1, Colossians 3:12-17, John 19:25b-27

William Makepeace Thackeray wrote, “Mother is the name for God in the lips and the hearts of little children”. I am reminded of the line from ‘Les Mis.’, “to love another person is to see the face of God”, this story being very much about a mother’s love for her child. In our Old Testament reading telling the story of Moses found in a basket we are shown the lengths a mother has to go through, to be able to care for her son.

We have only to watch the news or read the papers to know that in some cases a mother’s love, for a variety of reasons, is not shown or is soon extinguished. For some this Sunday is hard to bear, indeed I have had several emails offering Mothers’ Day gifts which clearly state at the end, ‘If you no longer wish to receive these emails please let us know’. So it is today recognised that Mothering Sunday is not easy for all. This though is the exception, for in all God’s kingdom it is the natural condition for a mother to show love, tenderness and protection to her new born.

It has been written, “How beautifully everything is arranged by Nature, as soon as a child enters the world it finds a mother ready to take care of it”. In most cases a mother’s love is a care and love that lasts through the many years of childhood and often into adulthood. Yet at times I have noted over the years that some of the biggest and strongest of lads and men can be seen to quail and shrink in shoe size at a cross word from their mother.

The tradition of Mothering Sunday can be traced back to as far as the 8th century, as it coincides with the Mid-Lent Sunday or Refreshment Sunday, a day of respite from fasting, so you can all go home after the service and make the most of it!

The tradition as we now know it was revived in 1913 by Constance Adelaide Smith to honour Mother Church, so Christians could visit their mother church, the church in which they received the sacrament of baptism. It also became a Sunday when domestic servants were given the day off to go to church and visit their own mothers and family members.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians we are told,

“As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…….Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

Perhaps in many ways this could be an appropriate definition for motherhood.

It is though in our Gospel reading from John that we witness the true love and pain of motherhood. Here is Mary the mother of Jesus, who even before her son’s birth had experienced the highs and lows, and then the joys and sorrows and anguish of her son’s life and now his death.

And here in this final moment of Christ’s life he seeks to protect and look after the mother who has given him the compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love of which Paul spoke.

In our Gospel reading Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son”; and to his disciple John. “Here is your mother. And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.”

Isaiah writes of God,

“As a mother comforts her son, so shall I myself comfort you”. Today let us be thankful for our mother’s love and comfort, past and present, and for the never-ending love of our all-embracing ‘mother’ God.


Michael Tonkin

Cover image by Olga Oginskaya from Pixabay


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