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Sunday 14 March 2021: Mothering Sunday

Called to Care

Exodus 1:1-22; Luke 2:33-35

By Keith M Phipps

Supernumerary Methodist presbyter, Ripon

Context: a regular preaching service

Aim: to remind the congregation that we are all called to care

Today is called Mothering Sunday and we gather to celebrate the gift of life given to each one of us by our parents, especially our mothers! We may wish to reflect on whether it is about nature or nurture or the other way about which has made who we are! So, today, we celebrate motherhood and thank God ‘who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way.’

I imagine that many of us have good memories of our mothers although, sadly, for some people, that may not have been the case. The recent lockdown during these past twelve months has highlighted negative relationships. Whether our mothers are living or dead they will have left their mark upon us as they have fed and clothed us, taught us to read and write, shown us how to make and bake and no doubt left us with some wonderful turns of phrase and stories to tell! Let us then thank God for our mothers.

Mothering Sunday also invites us to reflect upon the place of the Church being our mother. The idea of God being our mother is not new. The 14th century mystic, Julian of Norwich, expresses that in her Revelations of Divine Love where she talks of Jesus as our mother who feeds and nourishes our hearts, minds, and souls.

I suggest that it is through our baptism, whether we have been immersed, dipped, or sprinkled in water, that we are brought to life in Jesus Christ; and it is here in the Church we are nurtured in such a way as to put on the nature and mind of Christ our Saviour. Our baptism is but the birthing and beginning of a life-long pilgrimage of faith with all its many twists and turns as we journey through life. For some of us we may have been blessed by godparents and grandparents who have celebrated the important stages of our lives and have quietly and continually held us before God in their love and prayers. For others, Sunday School, Youth Fellowship, and similar groups may have metaphorically put their arms around us, holding us in the faith of the Church of Jesus Christ, therefore enabling us to grow and flourish as human beings.

Today, however, our reading from Exodus 1 presents us not with the image of a mother – rather, that of a midwife. A midwife aids the birthing process for the mother and baby. Does our passage today invite us to consider the possibility that we are all called to be a midwife to one another in the sense that we are all called to help bring to birth the gifts and graces that we together share, thereby enriching the quality of life for the individual and Church community?

If this is true then let us conclude with some words of the Austrian philosopher and theologian Baron Friedrich von Hügel, who has the following to say:

Christ taught us to care.
Caring is the greatest thing.
Caring matters most.

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