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I wonder what you think is the hardest day for preachers? You might think it’s Christmas (it’s all been said before, surely?) You might think it’s Trinity Sunday (how do you make sense of the Christian belief that there are three persons but only one God?)
If you asked me, I might actually say ‘Mother’s Day’ – or Mothering Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Lent, as we properly call it – is much harder. Because however idyllic the pink and fluffy scenes in shop displays might seem, we all know that the reality of lives and families is much more complicated. In our community we will have folk who aren’t touch with their mothers – perhaps temporarily separated by distance, a longer-term estrangement, or because their mothers have died. There will be mothers who aren’t in touch with their own children; or who have lost a child; or who never had a child. Most families have been touched by separation or divorce. There will be those who grew up being cared for by someone other than their birth mother, who they may not have known. The variety of our domestic and family circumstances makes it a very difficult day for many people, and a really hard one to preach about.
If we can talk with our actual mothers or thank God for their memory today, that’s wonderful, praise God. But whether we can or not, perhaps we can ask: who has mothered us, women and men, related to us by blood or not, who have cared for us, nurtured us, encouraged us, supported us? Can we thank God for them today? And who, in turn, might God be calling us to mother – to care for, nurture, encourage, support? Can we ask God to show us who that person might be today?
Above all, might we remember that the Lord loves us as tenderly and as fiercely as a mother hen gathering her chicks (Luke 13.34)? Can we today praise God who is to us Father and Mother, Shepherd and Saviour, Brother and Friend?
With prayers and best wishes,
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