This Sunday we would have been a gathered church celebrating Mothering Sunday. We are now a scattered church on a Sunday which is a very different experience for us all. The coronavirus and the related restrictions on us not to be in large groups and even to social isolate means a very different Mothering Sunday for everyone. The All Age service that Sara and I were to lead would have focused on celebrating the characteristics of mothers. We thought we would share the thoughts that would have been part of the service.
If you go into the shops leading up Mothering Sunday you will see a lot of cards etc. that are about Mother’s day. In the church we mark today as Mothering Sunday a day when we celebrate all the positives that families can experience – love, happiness, togetherness, but also remember that there might also be pain, sacrifice and loss.
Our text is Exodus 2 1-10.
Here we read about the birth of Moses. He was born in a time of great turbulence for his people. They were enslaved by the Egyptians. Life would have been harsh with many uncertainties from day to day. There would have been anxiety, concern and the need to adapt.
For Moses mother there was also the added worry as the Pharaoh had decreed that every boy that was born is to be drowned in the Nile. As we hear she hid her boy for 3 months until she could not anymore. She then waterproofed a basket and, put her baby in and set it afloat among the reeds. How must she have felt as a mother?
If we are thinking about the characteristics of a mother what can we learn from the account in Exodus Chapter 2? In the story of Moses, we can see that his mother showed:
• Cunning- in the way she hid her child and the agreed to be the wet-nurse
• Determination – in the way she hid her child for 3 months and then found another solution to protect him.
• At times we can expect that she was desperate.
• Protective – hiding the child and then making a watertight basket to hide him in the reeds.
• Nurturing- this quality is shown throughout the account and especially in being the wetnurse.
If we look at some of the other examples of mothers in the bible, we can see in Luke chpt. 2 v 41-45
(the story of Jesus’ parents finding him in the temple), Mary showing the characteristics of being faithful, responsible, and aware that caring can be a ‘double-edge sword.
In John chpt.19 we read of Mary at the cross. Here we find Mary still being present even in sorrow, faithful, grieving, caring and cared-for, love that is stronger than death
Not all of us can be mothers though and for some Mothering Sunday will bring memories and feelings of loss. In celebrating Mothering Sunday, I want us to reflect on the characteristics of mothering and what it means to all of us. Do you recognise any of the characteristics above in yourself and others around you?
There is an African saying – It takes a village to raise a child. It is not one person’s responsibility – not the mother or the father of the child but the whole village.
In this time of great upheaval, worry and certainly challenge there will be lot of people in a very vulnerable position. The usual structures that gave a lot of support to individuals and families in need – a bit like Moses’ mother, strengthening the basket with tar so that it wouldn’t sink, are stretch and may not be there. There is no more tar – what used to be a strong safety net now has big holes in it.
The tradition of Mothering Sunday began when people were given the chance to go and visit their ‘mother church’ during Lent to see their families. Have you ever thought of the church as a mother to you? In this story we’ve heard today, the different characters behave like a mother to Moses and use what they have to help.
How can our church be like a mother to those in need in our community, especially children and young people? Perhaps we can be like Moses’ sister, Miriam, and go to someone with more resources than us to ask for help. we will need to all show the characteristics of mothers. Our communities will need our support and witness of faith even more. As we are scattered, we can still be a strong faith community showing the characteristics that we have been celebrating on Mothering Sunday.
Throughout Moses’s life and the turbulent times, he experiences from birth God was there watching over, guiding and protecting. We too have a faithful God doing the same for us in these turbulent times. Let us give thanks for those who have helped us when we’ve been struggling and ask God to show us how we can help those in need.
Praise God who loves us.
May God, who gave birth to all creation, bless us:
may God, who became incarnate by an earthly mother, bless us:
may God, who broods as a mother over her children, bless us.
May almighty God bless us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
now and for ever.
We came across this prayer for the Pandemic that might be helpful.
Prayer for the Pandemic By Callum Bellm
May we who are merely inconvenienced
Remember those whose lives are at stake.
May we who have no risk factors
Remember those who are vulnerable
May we who have the luxury of working from home
Remember those who must choose between preserving their health or making their rent.
May we who have the flexibility to care for our children when their schools close
Remember those who have no options
May we who have to cancel our trips
Remember those who have no place to go.
May we who are losing our margin money in the tumult of the economic market
Remember those who have no margin at all.
May we who settle in for a quarantine at home
Remember those who have no home.
As fear grips the country, Let us choose love.
During this time when we cannot physically wrap our arms around each other,
Let us fine ways to be the loving embrace of God to our neighbours.