Reflection for Mothering Sunday 2022

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 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 the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

John 19:25b-27

mother_of_the_church__orvieto_

Mothering Sunday always falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent. In the 16th century, the fourth Sunday of Lent was known as Refreshment Sunday. Traditionally it was a day when the Lenten rules were set aside and people went to their mother church, either the church in which they were baptised or their local cathedral, to honour the Virgin Mary. Anyone who did this was said to have gone ‘a- mothering’ which is where the name Mothering Sunday comes from. By the 19th century, those who were in service were given a day off on so they could visit their families and go with them to their mother church. They would pick flowers to place in the church or to give them to their mothers as gifts. Eventually, this religious tradition evolved into the tradition of giving gifts and cards to mothers on Mothers’ Day.

We’re not all mothers ourselves but we all have a mother, whether or not she is still alive. We are also of course all children of God. We are very familiar with the image of God as our loving Father but God is our loving mother too. The prophet Isaiah writes that God is a mother to us, comforting and carrying us in her arms. (Isaiah 66:13) The 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich writes that:

‘The deep Wisdom of the Trinity is our Mother. In her we are all enclosed.’ (Revelations of Divine Love)

In the days ahead, you may like to pray the Song of St Anselm, an 11th century Archbishop of Canterbury:

Gather your little ones to you, O God, as a hen gathers her brood to protect them.
Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you;
you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride,
tenderly you draw us from hatred and judgement.
You comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds,
in sickness you nurse us, and with pure milk you feed us.
Jesus, by your dying we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labour we come forth in joy.
Gather your little ones to you, O God, as a hen gathers her brood to protect them.
Despair turns to hope through your sweet goodness;
through your gentleness we find comfort in fear.
Your warmth gives life to the dead, your touch makes sinners righteous.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy heal us; in your love and tenderness remake us.
In your compassion bring grace and forgiveness,
for the beauty of heaven may your love prepare us.
Gather your little ones to you, O God, as a hen gathers her brood to protect them.

Rev Canon Nikki Arthy, Rector

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