On Sunday March 30th Mothering Sunday worship was led by Rev Ron Dale a former minister of Wesley Chapel. Trevor our minister led the Lenten Candle Liturgy by singing verse 4 of the Tree of Life, ‘Gentle Jesus, mighty Spirit, come inflame our hearts anew, we may all your joy inherit, if we bear the cross with you.’ We were asked to close our eyes and forget all the demands of the week and just be in the moment, something I still find difficult to do. We were encouraged to rest and set aside anxieties about what had not been done, bringing joy or sadness, gratitude or anxiety to God, listening to the God who is present in these moments too. God meets us where we are and calls us forward moment by moment. The candle was extinguished for darkness and pain of lack of basic needs, lack of food, shelter, education, heat and love. Help us to remember God is with us always working moment by moment to unfold our lives.
Ron began worship as we sang ‘Now thank we all our God.’ Following the opening prayers Ron read some Mother’s day card greetings and also some Christmas cards; the Save the Children ‘Mother and Son Christmas card, where the Son’s light illuminated the face of his mother. A child coming in covered in dirt is greeted by a mother saying, son I love you. Psalm 34 was then read responsively before we sang, ‘Happy the home that welcomes you, Lord Jesus. Following the hymn Luke 2v41-52 was read, the boy Jesus in the temple and John 19v25-27, Jesus on the cross gives his mother Mary into John’s care as her son. We then sang, ‘Lord of the home, your only Son received a mother’s tender love,’ before the sermon.
Gwyn Griffin told an interesting story of Freedom observed about an UN observer who described her lovely mum as the perfect mum. We could learn about the importance of mothers as a nation. Rachel favoured her son Jacob, the twister, helping him more than his father’s favourite Esau. There are many examples of mothers who have struggles as mothers; Hannah who prayed desperately for a child, dedicating such a child to life of service in the temple and kept her promise when she gave Samuel the longed for child to the temple. The prophet Elijah stayed with a childless woman, who conceived through his influence and had a longed for son, who died of sun stroke; he was raised from the dead through Elijah’s ministry. Mary too recognised the uniqueness of her son and treasured all that was said in her heart.
Ron discussed what made a good mum. Firstly a good mum is totally for her child, giving that child the freedom to be, but not do as he likes. The freedom to be is the greatest gift a mother can give. His mother sorted out a local bully. God is totally for all children and respects freedom. J.B. Philips realised that ‘our God is too small.’ We want to see evil punished and good prosper. However God withholds his hand to allow freedom to work out our own lives. When Ron felt the call to ministry he had the freedom to say no and be whatever he wanted to be. However he felt he was meant to follow that call, but felt free from pressure to make his choice.
Secondly there is the pain of motherhood; Mary at the cross felt the pain of the terrible death of her son. Yet her son even from his cross cares for her giving his mother into the care of John. Simeon had predicted that a sword would pierce Mary’s heart when the baby Jesus was dedicated in the temple. Ron remembered the pain his mother felt when he, her favourite son, left for college; she wept bitterly as she knew things would never be the same and she would not see him as much. Augustine was the child of so many tears; his mother felt pain when her son tricked her by leaving home.
As a child Ron got 1 shilling and 9 pence a week on a Friday (6p in today’s money) and he could spend the money on sweets, but everybody had to share their sweets with others. When they went out carol singing the money made at Christmas had to be shared with each other. Ron thought the lesson in learning to share was important. When we are most generous we are living a more real existence. God shared his life with his Son, who shares his Spirit with us. Jesus taught us to share love and care with others.
In his prayers he gave thanks for mothers and prayed for those nations where families are displaced. We then sang ‘Our Father, by whose name all parenthood is known,’ to conclude worship.