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March 2024 Clergy Letter

March is dominated by lengthening daylight and by LENT (old English for ‘lengthen’), with its air of austerity, fasting or giving-up things. However, in the middle we get a brief reprieve – Mothering Sunday and the joy of giving or receiving gifts, flowers, visits or phone calls. Before the era of Commercialism – this was a church festival, observed by country employers who gave their servants time off to walk home, to their ‘mother church and family’. Walking the lanes and hedgerows, they would gather Spring blooms and thus arose the custom of giving flowers.

This year I am especially excited as I anticipate becoming a Grandma for the first time (I have even pulled out my crotchet hook and dusted off the sewing machine!). Yet the day is always tinged with sadness as we remember the mothers (or sometimes the children) we have lost and we always make space in our church services to light candles, give thanks for love shared and remember them.

The Bible readings set for Mothering Sunday remind me that many people can be called upon to take a ‘mother’s role’ in our lives – to offer nurture, protection, wisdom and encouragement. From the Old Testament, we read about Moses being hidden in a basket in the bulrushes, from where he is rescued by Pharoah’s daughter. The Princess realises this is one of the Hebrew babies in danger, takes him to the Palace and raises him as her own. In the New Testament Reading we find Mary standing under the cross of Jesus with the young disciple John. Jesus looks down and seeing them there says, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27).

Mother figures don’t even have to be female. One of my favourite photos, taken during the War in Afghanistan is of Master Sergeant John Gebhardt of the US Air Force. He spent his off-duty hours in the field hospital because the small Afghan girl he had rescued would only rest when lying on his chest. Even God himself (or herself) is described with motherly language, so I will leave you with this beautiful old English prayer,

Jesus, like a mother you gather your people to you;

you are gentle with us as a mother with her children.

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.   (Anselm 1109)


This Mothering Sunday, perhaps you could message someone who has been like a mother to you with your appreciation…. Or consider who you could be a mother to.               

Rev Becky, 20/2/24


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