Mothering Sunday reflection

A reflection from Rod….

Dear friends, today, Mothering Sunday, is also meant to be Refreshment Sunday, when we take a break from the rigours of Lent. But it turns out that it is the beginning of rigours that we never even guessed at on Ash Wednesday. Not only is the country in deep crisis, but the most natural ways in which the church would offer strength and support during a crisis — gathering for worship and to receive the sacraments, and visiting those who are struggling — are denied us by the very nature of the pandemic. Isolation feels like the very last thing we need. God shaped us to live and function in community, and withdrawing from normal human contact is a painful thing for us.
But perhaps we can learn from a Christian practice that has endured through the centuries—that of “retreat”, the deliberate separation from the community of monks and nuns to become hermits for a time of prayer and stillness. The crucial thing is that they were still acutely aware of belonging to the community even when isolated from it. Whether Julian of Norwich in years gone by, or Sister Wendy in more recent times, they knew themselves to be a part of a family that included them and prayed for them as they in turn prayed for their sisters and brothers. Without TV or mobiles, they felt connected—in communion. And perhaps on Mothering Sunday we can give thanks for the steadfast certainty of “being loved” by those dear to us. We are beloved.

I had hoped that we would learn a new hymn this Sunday—”All are Welcome”. These are the words of the first verse:
“Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely live. A place where saints and children tell how hearts learn to forgive, Built of hopes and dreams and visions, rock of faith and vault of grace. Where the love of Christ shall end divisions. All are welcome, all are welcome in this place.”

In a way, it seems ironic that the physical building of St Andrew’s can’t be that place at present, but the church most certainly can. We can and will be connected, in communion, through this crisis ,and we will emerge into liberty and freedom with an even greater sense of thankfulness when it is over. Be steadfast in prayer for one another and remember to be thankful even in adversity—thankful that children and infants are not in danger, thankful that the vast majority of people make a full recovery, thankful that news from China suggests there is an end in sight—and know that you are beloved.

 

Prayers for Mothering Sunday

We are invited with Christians across the world, to pray today for all who are anxious, vulnerable or separated from love ones during the crisis, and particularly to pray for health workers and the emergency services. If you are able, please light a candle in your window at 7pm tonight as we pray.

God our Father,
we thank you today for our mothers and all who show us love and compassion.
As you call us to be one family, help us all to be loving and caring in all we do.

God our Father,
we pray for all the families of the world, especially those who are hungry or in need. We pray for an end to war and cruelty and for freedom for everyone who is oppressed. Bless all mothers everywhere caring for their children.

God our Father,
We pray for everyone who is ill or in hospital, anyone we know who is poorly.
Be close to everyone who need your love, and bless the doctors and nurses who care for them.

God our Father,
we pray for our town of Chippenham and all the people who live here – especially all who are in isolation at the moment and for everyone who cares for us and supports us. Help us to care for one another as you care for us.

God our Father,
Thank you for the gift of life that you give to us all. Help us to follow Jesus and grow in faith, and make us thankful for all the blessings we have.

Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer

This lovely hymn (which I hope everyone can sing on Sunday!) was set for Mothering Sunday before the current adversity, but many of the verses seem most apt….

1 Jesus, good above all other,
gentle child of gentle mother,
in a stable born our brother,
give us grace to persevere.

2 Jesus, cradled in a manger,
for us facing every danger,
living as a homeless stranger,
make we thee our King most dear.

3 Jesus, for thy people dying,
risen Master, death defying,
Lord in heaven, thy grace supplying,
keep us to thy presence near.

4 Jesus, who our sorrows bearest,
all our thoughts and hopes thou sharest,
thou to us the truth declarest;
help us all thy truth to hear.

5 Lord, in all our doings guide us;
pride and hate shall ne’er divide us;
we’ll go on with thee beside us,
and with joy we’ll persevere.

 

 

The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us and be gracious to us. The Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us his peace. And may the blessing of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit be with us now and until this time of trial is over. Amen.