22 March 2020 – 4th Sunday of Lent 10:00

Prayers and Readings for Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday is a special time to thank God for mothers and carers. We want to celebrate all they do to make our lives happy, healthy and safe. We want them to know that just as they care for us, so God loves and cares for them too.

We’re not all mothers ourselves but we all have a mother, whether or not they are still with us, and we are all children of God. No earthly family is perfect but in God we have a heavenly Father who loves us and always welcomes us with open arms.

Prayer for the day:

God of love, passionate and strong, tender and careful: watch over us and hold us all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 2: 1-10

Psalm: Psalm 34: 11-20

New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

Gospel Reading: Luke 2: 33-35

Reflection by Mac Leonard, Licensed Lay Minister

Some mothers do ’ave ’em!

This Mothering Sunday is sadly different from usual for many. The traditional ‘getting-together’ - perhaps in church - possibly won’t happen because of the Coronavirus – and although through modern technology you will be able at least to have an e-conversation it won’t be quite was expected a few weeks ago.

You may have seen “Some mothers do ’ave ’em!”, the popular BBC sitcom starring Michael Crawford, first broadcast on 15 February 1973. It's the story of Frank Spencer, a well-meaning yet accident-prone chap who tries his best - and often fails - to please everyone he encounters. I’ve often wondered what his mother thought of him! I rather doubt he turned out as she expected. Mothers go through a lot!

Our Bible reading today presents the young Mary, the mother of Jesus, with yet another shock. She’s already undergone an unexpected pregnancy which caused great social problems and an unpleasant birth in a dirty stable with even dirtier shepherds paying a visit. They’re trying to keep the rules and take Jesus to the Temple. Simeon, an ‘old man’ “said to Mary, his (Jesus’) mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’”

What did Mary think of all this? Confused would probably be an understatement! Joseph had stood by her – and as the eldest son Jesus was programmed to take over the family carpentry business. Then, just as they were beginning to get back to the expected plan, this happens - words she was neither expecting nor wanting to hear – her plan and God’s seemed to be at odds – this baby would suffer and so would she. This suffering was all so they both could play the most important part in God’s plan to bring the world back to Himself – we know that now, but Mary didn’t know that then!

We all, mothers and others, undergo the same anxiety today when things don’t turn out as we expect or want. We don’t understand why God is allowing things – like Coronavirus - to happen. This is where ‘faith’ steps in. Some thirty-three years later just after Jesus had ascended to heaven Mary was with his disciples: they “all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”. Now she understood! Our trust that God is in control when the unexpected happens is built on our degree in theological hindsight – we look back and see how despite our doubts He has been at work for our benefit and that of those around us before. We can trust God to lead us where he wants us to go. As Psalm 23 says, “He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.”

Blessing

The Lord bless you and watch over you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord look kindly on you and give you peace. And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

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