Home Service Mothering Sunday 14th March 2021

Call to worship 
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. 

Prayer of Approach 

O God who loves your world into existence, 
you give birth to hope in us 
and grant us a share in your creating. 
Go with us in this time of worship, 
and inspire us to offer ourselves for others, 
that your will may be done, 
and your people be free to build and to plant, 
today and for ever. 
Amen.   

 A Prayer of Thanksgiving 

Loving God, 
you care for us like a mother hen who draws her chicks to her, hiding them under her wings so that they will be safe from harm. 
Thank you that in your love for us you have shown how we should care for each other. 
Thank you for all those people who care for us, our mothers, fathers, and other carers. 
Help us to remember that caring is not always easy, and never to take for granted the way that you and others care for us. 
We ask that you will help us to care for those around us, even when it is costly. 
Amen. 

 

Music: For the beauty of the earth (R&S 41) 

Readings: Mark 3:31-35 

     John 19:25-27  

 Introduction 

Mothering Sunday is a tradition dating from the Middle Ages. Originally a time to focus on ‘mother church’, when families would come together to worship at the cathedral or the church where they were baptised, it became a day when young girls, in service away from home, could visit their mothers. Today in many churches congregations would normally have gathered to thank God for mothers, and others who have nurtured them. Although we are not able to do that right now we can still give thanks wherever we are for the ‘mothering’ we have received from whatever source. 

 

Music: Loving spirit, loving spirit (R&S 326) 

 

Sermon/Reflection 

Despite the patriarchal nature of the society of Bible times and the distinctly male perspective from which the Bible is written there are still many examples of motherly love instanced within its pages. From the beginning God’s care for God’s people is depicted in terms of a mother’s care for her children, some of the most striking of which can be found in Isaiah’s prophesies. Echoing Psalm 57:1 and 61:4, he speaks of God sheltering his people under his wings (Isaiah 31:5), and quotes God as saying, ‘can a mother forget the child she bore’ (Isaiah 49:15), and ‘as a mother comforts her child so I will comfort you’ (Isaiah 66:13). 

 Jesus himself continues these images when he tells the people how he longs to gather the children of Jerusalem‘as a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings (Matthew 23:37). These are powerful mothering images which speak strongly of God’s love and care. For most of us Mothering Sunday is a chance to celebrate and give thanks for such care but for some this is a difficult time, perhaps because they have lost their mother, never knew their mother, have a difficult relationship with them or grew up in an abusive household. And we must not forget those for whom lockdown has been a frightening and dangerous experience. 

 Whilst not making light of those experiences we can all look for the sources of love in our lives. A popular cartoon series of the ‘70s and ‘80s used the phrase ‘Love is…’ with a picture and caption which illustrated some aspect of love. One simply said 

 

Borrowing that format, how would you complete the phrase ‘A mother is…’? You will probably have a long list of things that a mother is. One of mine says ‘A mother is… someone who never stops caring.’  

 Jesus mother certainly never stopped caring. When he was over 30 years old Mary turned up at a house where he was preaching to see that he was OK because she had heard disturbing stories about him. You can almost hear Jesus’ exasperated cry ‘Muumm!’ Mary must have been hurt by Jesus’ question ‘Who is my mother…?’ Was this a rejection of her and all she had done for him? Jesus however simply wanted to say that all those who do what God wants and who show love for others are like mothers, are family. He showed just how much he loved her as he was dying on the cross by making sure that she was provided for, saying to his disciple, John, ‘Here is your mother’ and to Mary, ‘Here is your son’. As we celebrate today let us remember all those who have nurtured us, and let us in our turn show love to others. 

 

Music: God is love, his the care (R&S 274) 

 

Prayers of Intercession 

Loving God of the ages, 
like a mother you brought the world to birth, 
and we rejoice that we are part of that creation. 
Help us to care for your earth in all its complex beauty, 
and to nurture our children’s generation in that sacred duty. 
     You offer us life in abundance. 
     Help us to live as your children. 

In the squabbles and struggles between your peoples, 
some are neglected, some suffer, some die. 
Grant us the will to overcome hatred, 
to reach out to the poor and the victim. 
     You offer us life in abundance. 
     Help us to live as your children. 

We remember the mothers around us, 
and the blessings they give to their families, 
and we pray for those who find it hard to cope. 
We think of women who seek their fulfilment 
in acts of generosity and service, 
and of all who bring hope to birth in others. 
     You offer us life in abundance. 
     Help us to live as your children. 

We pray for all parents who, like Mary, 
have lost their children before their time. 
Grant your blessing of peace in times of grief, 
your comfort in places of sorrow. 
     You offer us life in abundance. 
     Help us to live as your children. 

God who is mother and father to us, 
receive the prayers we offer 
in the name of Jesus, son of Mary, 
who gave up his life for the sake of your love 
and is alive with you and the Holy Spirit, 
now and for ever. 
Amen. 

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

 

Blessing  

May the one who gives delicate shape 
and soft sweet scent to the rose, 
grant us the spirit of wonder and appreciation 
that all around us we may see 
the beauty of God’s creation. 
And may the blessing of God all-loving, 
who cares for us as a mother, 
be upon us today and for evermore. 
Amen. 

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