Father, may these spoken words be faithful to the written word and lead us to the living word, Jesus Christ our Lord.
It is such a blessing that we are able to be together physically as the church reopens its doors today. Part of Mothering Sunday tradition actually involves people going back to their mother church, the place where they were baptised. And here we are today stepping back into that old tradition sharing in the mothering embrace of this church family.
There are many bible readings set today to choose from. The two Old Testament readings show us the act of giving away of part of ourselves, Moses being put in the basket, Hannah giving her son to the Lord, and in the Gospel Jesus giving His Mother to the disciple whom he loved.
I wanted us to think about these images today. That the church is showing us that part of loving others involves giving a part of ourselves away.
Jesus mother Mary is often described as the church, who held Jesus within her womb, and offered him up for the mission that was entrusted to him. I always like to remember that Mary had the courage and strength to not take her baby and run and hide with him somewhere, after hearing all the prophecies about the suffering she will feel, she kept on mothering him faithfully.
The church is the place where we offer ourselves to the Lord, it is a place that holds us and helps us to step forward and keep walking forward in our discipleship. As Jesus gave his mother to the disciple John, she is given to us also, a mother when we most need a mother, when perhaps we have not had one, where we miss the presence of a mother, through grief, through estrangement, through other difficulties that life has presented.
My most powerful prayer in these times is one from St Teresa of Calcutta, Mary, Mother of Jesus, be Mother to me now, I recommend this simple prayer in times of challenge, that tucks us up in a blanket of hope.
Talking about blankets makes me think of wings.
One of my favourite images of the mothering love of the church and Jesus is not in the lectionary today but it is in the gospel of Matthew. Jesus speaks of his longing to gather up his people like A hen gathering its brood under its wings. Imagine each and every one of you being snuggled up under the warm and protecting mothering love of God. And that He longs to gather you all up, he desires us and calls so much to feel that love.
If you look under your chair there will be a little chick.
When you come up for communion or a blessing I would like you to bring all your feelings about this Mothering Sunday with you. Good, bad, sad, confused, upset, anger, disappointment, fear, hurt, I want you to bring it all up and place the chick into the nest with this cuddly hen.
Because I want you all to remember that there is always a place for every one of you and every thought and feeling you have on this day. Remember that the Father loves you, the Holy Spirit loves you, and Jesus loves you with a mothering love learnt from his own mother, who longs to tuck us in like His own mother did, from His birth in the swaddling clothes, to the cloths that his crucified body is wrapped in in the tomb.
Lord helps us to remember your love today, Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a Mother to us now.