Mixed Emotions

Mothering Sunday 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. However, today will be a particularly difficult day as some families are estranged from mothers because of COVID and self-isolation. It will be a heavy burden to carry for many.

“I Don’t Do Anything”

I remember a conversation I had with one lady at the school gates shortly after I arrived in Billericay and I asked her what she did – as you do – she replied: “I don’t do anything.” When I questioned her a little further it turned out she had six children at the time! The idea that anyone with so many children could do nothing is laughable, but behind her comment was the (wrong) thought that raising children was not worthwhile or inferior to paid employment. To be a mother is a wonderful gift and a huge responsibility.

There’s a story of a man who came home from work one day to find his wife still in her dressing gown drinking coffee. The dirty dinner plates were still in the sink from the night before; dirty clothes were strewn all over the house; the children’s mess had not been cleaned up; the bedroom looked like it had been burgled and you wouldn’t want me to mention the state of the bathroom – you can picture the scene. Before he could say anything his wife said: “You know when you come from work every evening you usually ask me, quite sarcastically, what have you being doing all day? Well today … I didn’t!”

What Do You Love About Your Mother?

This might be an opportunity for you to pause and think about what your mums mean to you. This may bring tears of joy and sadness. Take the opportunity to say thank you to God for all they have brought into your life.

We Learn A Lot From Our Mothers Don’t We?
  • 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: “If I’ve told you once, 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.”

I’m sure you could add many more to this list!

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 (though Mary is remember in the church calendar on 2 May) 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’ – the church where they were baptised. They believed that the spiritual connection from doing this would sustain their faith for the year to come.

Mothering Sunday always falls on the fourth 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 Old Tradition

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. Those who returned home would present their tithes/offerings to their mother church.

American Influence

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.

The Mom Song

And finally, a fun video to brighten up your Mothering Sunday. The quality isn’t that great, nevertheless, pump up the volume and enjoy!

Today … 

Take a break from the news and enjoy your day with the family. Spend the day cooking together, watching movies and playing your favourite family games. As an act of kindness you could celebrate Mothering Sunday by showing motherly love to those struggling the most with isolation. For those who find Mother’s Day difficult at the best of times, isolation may be even more damaging for their mental health. Why not to ring someone in your own family, church family, neighbourhood or wider community to check in and see how they are?

And Finally!

On this Mothering Sunday, let us thank God for our mothers. Not just what they have done for us but who they are. And, wherever you and your mums maybe today, may the Lord bless you and keep you and may your mums know the special place they hold in your hearts.

A Special Prayer for Mothering Sunday 

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for our Mothers.
We remember today their loving care and their ceaseless love.
May we show them by our gifts,
Our words and our actions
That we love them and care about them too.

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for the family of the church. 
We thank you for those who are Mothers within our church family. 

May they know your blessing and strength as they care for others.

In the precious name of Jesus we pray.