This is a copy of my article for the MARCH 2015 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

Mothers Day this year is celebrated on 15th March. It is a day of mixed emotions and means something different to each of us. For some it is a day of celebration and for others it is a day of sadness as we say a prayer of thanksgiving for those mums we have loved and lost.  But we learn a lot from our Mother’s don’t we?  For example:

  •  They taught us religion: “You better pray that I can get that stain out of the carpet.”
  • They taught us the science of osmosis: “Shut your mouth and eat your supper.”
  • They taught us about hypocrisy: “I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate.”
  • They taught us about the weather: “It looks like a tornado just went through your room.”
  • They taught us to plan ahead: “Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”
  • They taught us: “Because I said so, that’s why.”
  • They taught us about behaviour modification: “Stop acting like your father!”

But do you know how Mothers Day began?  Mothering Sunday, as it officially known, began, not as some people think, as a celebration of Mary the mother of Jesus by the early church, but in the 1600’s. At the time, Christianity was the fastest growing faith in Europe and it was a day when servants, apprentices, farm labourers, girls in service and those who lived at the houses of their employers, were given a special day off to return home to their ‘mother church’. They believed that the spiritual connection from doing this would sustain their faith for the year to come.  Mothering Sunday always falls on the 4th Sunday of Lent and it was deliberately introduced in the middle of the Lent so that families could have a break from their Lenten fast and share a celebration meal with those returning home.

An interesting and popular ceremony called ‘church clipping’ took place on Mothering Sunday when people would express their love for their ‘mother’ church by forming a circle and walking round the building holding hands and then tightly grip the church building or pews as an expression of coming home.

During the early part of the 20th Century, as English culture began to be influenced by American culture, we took on their traditional Mother’s Day celebration and, following the Second World War, blended Mothering Sunday with the Mother’s Day celebration and people began honouring their mothers instead of the church – although it still continues to be celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent.

What are your plans for Sunday 15th March this year?  Might you consider returning to your ‘mother church?’ I’m sure many of the churches here in Billericay would love to see you return to the church of your Baptism, Childhood or Wedding on this very special day. At Emmanuel, we have a fun-filled family service at 10.30 am – who knows, we may even enjoy a bit of ‘church clipping’ at that service, too!

With my very best wishes for a blessed, and memorable, Mothering Sunday celebration.