Revd Caroline Risdon, Mothering Sunday 11 March 2018
May I speak in the name of the Living God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. AMEN.
Well, it’s a great pleasure for me to wish you all a Happy Mothering Sunday.
You may expect me to know these things given I’m a Priest, but I actually found out recently about the origins of Mothering Sunday. Hundreds of years ago, it was a day on which servants and slaves were free from their work and returned to their Mother Churches. They would of course visit their families and mothers too. And hence our modern custom of celebrating and honouring our Mother’s today began.
I think this means there is much for us as a Church to learn from Mothering Sunday, and especially from the 2 pictures we see in the Old Testament reading about Moses and the Gospel reading about Jesus.
The first is the story of Moses and his Mother. Pharoah has issued the decree that all the Hebrew male children should be killed. A woman has a baby, she raises him in secret and when she can hide him no longer, she takes this drastic and desperate action. She places this precious baby into the basket and lets him go; she is hoping for a future for him.
She has to make an impossible choice and none of us would want to be in such an awful situation. Hand Moses over to the authorities where he will certainly die; or hand her son over to the river so that there is a possibility of a future.
This story reminds us that with love there is often pain. And when we gather today to celebrate our mums, there is an uncomfortable and hard feeling as well. We remember the pain of those mums we are separated from by distance or death; we feel pain when we remember the children we are separated from by distance or death. We feel pain when we remember the children we had hoped to have, or the parents we’d hoped to be nurtured by. And God knows all of this feeling. This blend of joy and pain or love and loss.
For, just like Moses’ mother, God hands his Son over to the World, hoping for a better future. Moses’ mother did not know who Moses would become- the great Prophet and Son of Israel. She didn’t save him for who he would be in the future. She took that desperate action because he was precious and loved; because he was hers.
And just like Mary, God watches and tends to Jesus as he suffers on the Cross. This woman, who has stood by her son in faith, witnesses the terrible nature of his death. She remains there because she loves him. It is a beautiful picture and a very human picture because on the Cross, we find the God-child, who only has eyes for his human mother. And in his compassion, he creates for her a new family.
This is what God does for each of us too.
Now I don’t know if you’ve ever considered the people at Church as your family. So I want to invite you to take a look at the people to your left- this funny looking bunch of people. And now, the motley crew on your right. These people are our Christian family- the elders in our community are all of our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. The younger members are all of our children, nieces and nephews.
And look around, we are all equal. God has welcomed us all to this family, just as we are, not for what we might be in the future.
Most importantly, notice that we are all facing towards what draws us together in the first place; represented by our stained glass window; by the Cross; and by the bread and wine on the altar.
We are drawn together by God our Creator, God our Redeemer; God our Sustainer.