Home Service 10th March 2024 Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday

Prayers of Approach

God, creator and parent of all we come to worship you.
God, you nourished and rescued your people we come to worship you.
God, you care for us like a mother we come to worship you.
God, you give strength and love to all who care for children we come to worship you.
God, you support us in good times and hard times we come to worship you.

Help us to listen to the story of your saving love to share in your love, and to be carriers of that love to all your people. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your Son. Amen.

We give you thanks, heavenly Father, for the many ways in which you care for us. Thank you for the many people who look after us. We pray now for your blessing upon parents, especially those known to us in this church and neighbourhood. Help them to be wise, strong and patient. Give them insight into their children’s needs. Help them to be good examples of discipline, love and faith. May their homes be places of laughter and fun where children feel happy and safe. Amen.

Lord Jesus, thank you especially for Mums on this special Mothering Sunday. And we thank you too for our families – for dads and brothers and sisters, for grandmas and granddads and uncles and aunties, for foster carers and step parents. Thank you for special friends and neighbours, childminders, nursery workers and school staff who all share in caring for children. Thank you that you love and care for us even before we are born and that we can discover your love through the people around us. Amen.

Hymn For the beauty of the earth (R&S 41)

Readings: Exodus 2:1-10
Luke 2:33-35
John 19:25-27


The story of Moses in his floating crib and of Mary in the Temple and at the foot of the cross both show a great longing for life. Moses’ mother must give up her son if he is to survive; Mary must give up her son because of his identity and destiny. They both hand their children over to God’s care and step back. Loving and letting go are part of the same deal and they are both full of God. Mary at the foot of the cross expresses the pain and loss of both mothers in today’s passages. All mothers have to face their children ‘moving on’ – Mary’s story makes this clear at the annunciation; her child has a destiny beyond her imagining – but ‘letting go’ is something all parents must do.

Hymn God is love; his the care (R&S 274)


Women are often sidelined in the Bible, there are only two books in the whole Bible, Ruth and Esther, that are named after women, yet their stories are there if we look for them. When their stories are told it is often their obedience and humility, occasionally their faith, which is emphasised and praised, rather than their strength and courage. It is often the same in the church, even today women still fulfil the traditional roles of serving the refreshments and arranging the flowers, but take a look at our Eldership and you will find more women than men in most URCs, more women in leadership and preaching roles and, on the other side of the coin, you might even find a man doing the washing-up.

In today’s readings we see pictures of two women who showed much more than those qualities of obedience and humility, more than the traditional roles of nurturing, caring and loving that we associate with mothers. But the role of mother has always demanded so much more and Mothering Sunday is traditionally the day when we give thanks for our mothers and show them our appreciation. Falling as it does on Refreshment Sunday, when the fast of Lent is lifted briefly, it stands out as a day of joy and celebration in a season of austerity. Our gospel readings for today might therefore seem harsh and out of place. Mothers, though, may think differently. The experience of bearing and bringing up children is not all sweetness and light. When we care for people it involves sacrifice, the giving of love, time and attention, the nurture, the protection and everything else, including mental as well as physical pain. There is a cost to caring which our readings highlight and invite us to consider.

Although Mary’s appearances in the gospels are relatively few, they are sufficient to show us that her life was far from easy. In Luke’s gospel, we read Simeon’s prophecy of conflict and suffering and John identifies her specifically as being among the women who were standing near the foot of the cross. This can be seen as the fulfilment of Simeon’s words, the sword piercing Mary’s heart as she sees her son die the horrific death of a criminal. But Jesus did not forget his mother and what she had done for him either, he entrusted Mary to his beloved friend, John.

We are reminded too that it is not only mothers who show ‘mothering’ qualities. The heroes of Moses’ story are all women but not all mothers. First, Moses’ mother who hid him for three months, floated him on the Nile (a dangerous thing to do with crocodiles about) and even got to act as his wet nurse until he was weaned. Next, his sister kept watch over the child and had the courage to approach Pharaoh’s daughter to suggest finding a nurse. Finally, Pharaoh’s daughter ‘took pity on him’, had him nursed and eventually adopted him. None of these women is named. The story is about how God protected the child and did so through these women whose names no one bothered to record but who all showed great strength and courage.

As we give thanks for all who have nurtured and shown love for us, whether mothers or others, let us consider how we, and the church, can reach out to those who need loving today.

Hymn Jesus’ hands were kind hands (R&S 197)

Prayers of Intercession

God of abundant love, you are like a mother who never forgets: we give you thanks for those who have mothered us during the difficult times of life and who have rejoiced with us in moments of celebration. God of abundant love: hear the prayers of your children.

God of abundant love, you long to be a mother who comforts: we ask for your comfort upon those who are sad or sick or lonely this day; we pray especially for those who mourn and ask for your comfort upon them. God of abundant love: hear the prayers of your children.

God of abundant love you are a mother to the motherless. We pray for those who find Mothering Sunday a particularly difficult day: for those whose own mothers have died;, for those whose relationship was or is difficult with their mother; for those who mourn for the children they could never bring to birth and mother. We ask you God to mother them. God of abundant love: hear the prayers of your children.

God of abundant love, you are like a mother hen who gathers and protects her children under her wing. Teach us what it means to find security in the shadow of your wings. Show us how to reach out and call others to your love and protection: for the weak and vulnerable in our communities, we ask your blessing and protection. God of abundant love: hear the prayers of your children.

God of love, mother to all, hear these prayers and answer them, for the sake of your children. We pray in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn Now thank we all our God (R&S 72)


May the blessing of God be with us as we love and serve one another; and as we share Christ’s unconditional love – in the name of God the Creator, Redeemer and Spirit. Amen.

Prayers and other material (adapted) © Roots for Churches Ltd. Used by permission.

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