Mothering Sunday – 27th March – Rachel Pengelly

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in thy sight amen.

 While reflecting on the readings we have heard today I strongly felt I needed to talk about honour it was put strongly upon my heart, so Honour is the subject of this talk. How do we honour each other and how do we honour God?  We don’t honour people enough, do we? It’s not a word we use much anymore It means to hold someone in the highest esteem and respect.

In our first reading, Paul teaches the Colossians to clothe yourself in love, to honour and how it binds everything together in perfect harmony, to be patient. Sounds wonderful doesn’t it. I feel I spend a lot of time saying to my family if anyone has a complaint against each other forgive!

If you are a parent, when did you know that you were going to be a parent? How did that feel?  For me it was the first scan, seeing a little perfectly formed human swimming around. Or maybe the first small kicks and the joy that brings? Signing the adoption papers? We would have all felt the same trepidation mixed with joy. Then you have a baby! Some things are instinctive, feeding, the need to keep it warm. It’s a big deal, God has put you in charge of a life! Then the first milestones, first words, and steps helped by careful, loving nurture.

I am not talking just about woman today I’m talking about all those who mother in love. You don’t have to be a mother to mother something, or someone. Mother comes in all shapes and sizes and so does family. Our parents, stepparents, grandparents, same sex partners, uncles and aunts, God parents. And all who raise children alone being both mum and dad.  We honour you all!

When reflecting on parenthood, I wondered what Jesus’ first words were. Did he sleep well? Was he a good baby as we say today? Mary knew she was going to have a baby via a message from an angel. She knew she was going to bear the savour of the world! She must have been very anxious as a new parent to be like us. I wondered what Jesus thought of children and had a read of the bible. In Matthew, Jesus invited children to come to him for blessing, The disciples had not wanted the children to go to Jesus, children were very much ‘women’s work’ back then. But Jesus wanted the children to see him, to come to him, a very motherly thing to do. It was the custom for Jewish mothers to receive a blessing from high-ranking rabbis for their children and they recognised Jesus as such.  Christs love for children was real and genuine.

Julian of Norwich wrote a book in the Middle Ages.  The revelation of Jesus in motherly love. She was a medieval mystic who had a number of visions when she was gravely ill, she saw Jesus as mother and father She said ‘Our true mother Jesus, he who is all love, all the debt we owe at gods bidding for his fatherhood and motherhood is fulfilled by a loving God.’ She recognised God both as male and female and wrote ‘ just as God is our father, also he is our mother.’ Both maternal and paternal.

Like a mother who nurses her child, I believe we are fed from Christ’s own body during the eucharist the food of true life. It enriches the spirit and the body.  We are protected, gathered under the wings of Christ like chicks to the mother hen. Jesus honoured children.

In the second reading we come to every parent’s nightmare the loss of a child. We see Mary Jesus’ mother standing at the foot of the cross about to lose her firstborn son.  We must assume that Joseph has died as we don’t hear about him later in the Bible. Back then this was an extremely difficult place to be a woman. All women had to belong to a man. So, Jesus honours his mother, he tells John ‘Here is your mother’ he is asking john to take responsibility for Mary after his death. John takes Mary into his home. We honour Mary today. To all those who have lost a child we honour you.

Parenting is an honour, a very special calling and certainly not an easy one. I have four children aged between 8-21, It can seem like you a juggling so may balls, trying to keep them in the air while working, cleaning mixed in with trying to nurture yourself as well as children. And sometimes we drop a ball, sometimes we get things wrong, sometimes difficult decisions are made for what is best for now.  And that’s ok!  its ok to reach out, its ok to cry. Who do we reach out to? A parent? A friend? Did we open the bible? Did we pray and ask God for strength?  Shall we try it next time. We as parents make mistakes, it is a lifelong commitment that does not stop when they turn 18, as I’m sure most of us with older children and grandchildren know that! And how expensive they become!

Our children can teach us how to be better adults. Christ wants us to be childlike in our faith, easy, free and unashamed. We honour all those parents who are struggling to do their best to raise their children in the way of Jesus. Relationships are not always easy, We honour those whose relationship with their mother was not good, those abandoned, neglected who have sadness in their hearts. There will be many of us here. Mother’s Day can be difficult for some people, bringing out difficult memories and emotions.  Paul says Forgive. Forgive each other as the lord has forgiven you, with the strength of God and allowing him to richly dwell in us he will clothe us. God is with us, every day, we have that promise, all the time beside us our heavenly parent, and in him, we will find peace.

We have heard about how God honours us, how then do we honour God? In the words of Paul, with gratitude in your heart, and whatever you do, in word and deed do everything in the name of lord Jesus giving and praise to God through him. We go out to do God’s work, nurturing each other and helping all Gods people thrive.

Eventually we must let our children go, they grow they leave and follow their own paths. We never have children to keep them. If your children are leaving home, going to university or going away, we honour you. We remember that children are a blessing from God and we watch them grow up as Mary did.  God honours us with the privilege of parenthood in all it’s forms when we sit down today and share a meal together, read the kind words in cards or enjoy some time to ourselves, we give thanks to God for the joy our young people bring, the honour of watching them grow and thrive in their lives and faith while remembering Gods’ abundance towards us.

Today on this Mother’s Day we give thanks to God for our mothers, the givers of life.  I hope you are honoured not just with flowers, chocolates, a nice meal but most of all, with love.  Amen.

Reference: Revelations of divine love. Julian of Norwich