Reflection on Mothering Sunday 22nd March 2020
Although now a celebration of motherhood overall, Mothering Sunday is a long-standing Christian tradition when people go and visit their mother church. It’s true, we could not go back to that tradition, even if we wanted to, this weekend as we are advised not to gather in any church at all. But we can take a moment to wonder what exactly this term “mother church” might mean. The dictionary definition is that it depicts the Christian Church as a mother which nourishes and protects the believer. But I am sure it has a variety of meanings to different people.
It might mean for some the church they were baptised in and went to as a child. It might be the first church when someone felt they first met God and were reborn in Christ. Maybe it’s the mother of other churches in a town or diocese like a Cathedral or Abbey. Most often, I think, it’s the place where someone goes on a Sunday to find comfort, nurture, peace and family.
It is understandable that many people are going to miss Mothering Sunday this year and find it particularly difficult in the next few weeks and months when the opportunity to come together in church is denied them.
Last week’s gospel reading from John 4: 5-42, where Jesus meets the disgraced Samaritan woman at the well, was too long to look at in detail but it covered a great deal of guidance about the new covenant that Jesus was establishing. One critical part of this was about where and how worship takes place.
John 4:20-21, 23-24
20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain; and you people say that the place where it is necessary to worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus says to her, “Trust me, madam, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem….. 23 But an hour comes and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father looks for those worshipping him so. 24 God is spirit, and it is necessary that those worshipping, worship in spirit and truth.”
Rather than thinking about where we worship Jesus encourages to think about who we worship: God himself; and how we worship: in spirit (the Holy Spirit) and in truth (in Christ himself and according to Christ’s revelation) God being spirit cannot be found in one location. God is not confined – we can all be confident that we can worship God if we receive the Holy Spirit and believe in Jesus Christ. While it is of course wonderful to be able to come together and worship in fellowship, our worship is no less valid if we worship in faith with our minds, hearts and eyes fixed on God.
We will make every effort to find ways of keeping in touch and encouraging worship and prayer using all means at our disposal from hi-tech to mail and telephone calls The fact that we are all part of the body of the church, all members of God’s family will not change whatever happens. We can all find comfort and confidence in the hope we have in Christ. He so wants to give us such comfort if only we take him up on his wonderful offer. “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings,” Matthew 23:37. After a hard day there is nothing more comforting than imagining I can crawl under God’s unimaginably soft wings. There’s room for us all! Happy Mothering Sunday, with love and blessings, Rev’d Gini