A message from our Curate, Rev Hannah Lane, about Mothering Sunday

On Sunday 19 March, we celebrated  Mothering Sunday, a time for reflection in the midst of Lent. Here are some thoughts on Mothering Sunday from our Curate, Hannah.

The poet Edgar Allan Poe wrote these words:

Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”

On Mothering Sunday we often get wrapped up in the people we identify as ‘mum’ or ‘grandma’ or other such caregivers that have had a biological or legal duty towards us, but I feel it is in fact much more than that.

Historically, Mothering Sunday was a festival when domestic workers were given time off to visit their mother church, the church where they were baptised. It would often be the only time that young people would get to return to their families, and as such it evolved to be a celebration of family links.

Advertisements and supermarkets would have us believe that this time is simply a well placed day to spoil mum with fresh spring flowers.  But some people may no longer have a mum, grandma, aunty etc. These people may have passed away or they may have been left behind for one reason or another. And I cannot adequately sum up the sense of loss that this might bring.

But I would say that does not mean you are no longer ‘mothered’.

The memory of those people and how they have shaped you is a lasting legacy to them. Their teaching, guidance and love for you will have influenced you as you have grown. Just as the love, guidance and wisdom sent from our Lord will continue to influence and shape you as you continue to grow in his love.
Whilst I agree that it is right to thank and give thanks for those that look after us, I much prefer to think of today as a celebration of love. Motherly love, yes, but beyond that, to love in all its forms. In its earthly form  in our love for one another and in its heavenly form, the love of our God, towards us, the children.

If we think deeper into what we mean by ‘mother’ and look beyond our relatives, caregivers and even beyond the female persona. You can easily start to identify the ways in which our God mothers us. ‘Mum’ is special and whoever you most identify in this role will always have a place in your heart. But if we take the time to add our God into that special place too, then we will always carry his devotion and love with us.

There has been lots written about thinking of God as a mother. To take from the poem I used earlier, it states “there is no term more devotional than that of ‘mother’”. Surely, then, we can relate this to the devotion that God shows towards us, his children? And if we continue to look at mothering as a form of love, sent to us from heaven, then we will start to identify where we are ‘mothered’, and in turn, where we ‘mother’ others by showing his love to those around us.

So where do we see ‘mothering’  when there is no ‘mum’? Let us take our church as an example:

  • We see it in the kindly congregation members who welcome us in and teach us about the ways of the church family.
  • We see it in those who give up their time to help others, from volunteering to lead groups and nurturing those with questions, or in those who move chairs and make the tea and coffee and ensuring we are well looked after when we come to meet together.
  • We can see it in the children, as they care for each other and teach each other. (‘Don’t do it that way, do it like this…’)
  • We see it in the godparents who nurture our spirituality at the beginning of our journey and support us as we grow in our relationship with God

If we take the time to look for this love then you will see it all around. These are our ways of showing God’s love to one another.

God’s love is a love that is sacrificial.  And at this time of year, as we approach Easter we can identify this sacrifice in the example of Jesus. He shows that we are so loved, he is prepared to die for us and at Easter that is made very clear with his crucifixion.

We are all part of God’s family. He is devoted to us as his children and we in turn should be able to embrace all God’s children and welcome them with a love which is ‘motherly’. I pray that as we leave here today, we do so with the intention of giving thanks for those who have shown love to us.  And  as we go about our lives this week let us pray that we will show motherly love to all God’s children in the same way that he does.