How can we celebrate Mothering Sunday in times like these?
For all the joy of Mothering Sunday, small children giving posies of flowers to their mums, for some it is a poignant and difficult day. We may be grieving for a mother no longer with us, or the death of a child, experiencing private desolation at not being a parent or living with the reality of a broken family relationship and separation. All those cards and phone calls, flowers and Sunday lunches can seem to belong to a world from which we are painfully excluded. No wonder that Liverpool Cathedral usually offer a gentle ‘Mother’s Day Runaway Service’ for anyone who just can’t face the mainstream approach.
In this (extraordinary) year however, many more people are separated from parents, children and grandchildren because of self-isolation imposed by the pandemic crisis. This Sunday also happens to be the first in our centuries of history on which all public worship is suspended. Churchgoers worldwide feel this as a dislocating loss of relationship. We are forced into separation from our ‘mother’ church on Mothering Sunday. Eryl Parry’s reflection below, on a painting suggested by Terry Mart, helps us to face the questions which are already painfully familiar to some on Mothering Sunday but sharp for us all this year: What are we to do? How are we to be?
Here is Mary with John the Baptist, who offers Jesus a goldfinch – the bird that enjoys thistle seeds. Its red face symbolises Christ’s blood on the cross, where of course he wore a crown of thorns. This is a picture of community – intimate and joined together by the bird, that is meant to remind us of Christ’s dying for us on the cross. He suffered there and understands our suffering today. But we don’t suffer alone, because we are called into a community in which we are to serve one another, and Christ is still in the midst of us. The tender way he pats the bird in the painting reminds us that he cares for the very smallest and most fragile. Our prayer this Mothering Sunday is that through our greater reliance on God, we learn what we are to do and how we are to be, right here and now, still connected to him and one another as a caring community. In the midst of fear and anguish, new friendships and deeper appreciation of each other are being created in acts of gentle compassion and practical community action. Just as Jesus has always intended, a new human family is emerging wherever there is sacrificial love.
‘When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to his disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.’
Lord Jesus,you came to serve others
and gave your life for those you love.
At this time of crisis
help us to be mothers to one another and
to find new and creative ways of caring for each other.
In our concern for our own family and friends,
help us not to forget the needs of others:
those who are ill or unable to leave the house,
those who are lonely and afraid, the stranger and the food bank user,
the homeless and the refugee.
As we seek to serve them, open our eyes to see
that it is you we serve. Amen.
daethost i weini ar eraill a rhoi dy hun dros dy annwyliaid
gan ddangos cariad costus.
Ar adeg o argyfwng fel hyn,
helpa ni i fod yn famau i’n gilydd
ac i ddarganfod ffyrdd newydd a chreadigol
o ofalu am ein gilydd gan roi i ni ddoethineb mam wrth i ni wneud hynny.
Yn ein gofid am ein teuluoedd a’n ffrindiau,
gad i ni beidio anghofio helpu pobl eraill:
y sâl a’r caeth, yr unig a’r ofnus,
y dieithryn a defnyddiwr y banc bwyd,
y digartref a’r ffoadur.
Gwyddom, wrth i ni weini arnynt
ein bod yn gweini arnat ti.
Prayer by Reverend Lloyd Jones