On Sunday March 26th it was Mothering Sunday and we had Rev Ann Fox a probationary minister in our circuit, who is responsible for Starbeck, Park Grove and Scotton Chapels. We sang the verse from the Tree of Life which was about Jesus’ Spirit to inflame our hearts, so that we may inherit His joy, when we bear the cross with him. We sang ‘For the beauty of the earth’, before Ann led the prayers of praise and confession. She thanked God for mothers who care. She told a story about her son, when he was 6 or 7 and bought a plastic plant in a pot, when he wanted to have money left over to buy sweets for himself! What amused her most was that the previous day her son, now 29, came with his wife and gave her exactly the same plastic plant for her Mothering Sunday gift!! She asked us of things to thank mothers for and gave a short prayer to include our suggestions. We sang ‘For all the Saints’ before the reading from Exodus 2, when Moses’ mother hid Moses in the bulrushes. There was a reflection on the Holy Spirit, showing the tenderness of God, the Spirit being like a caring mother. We sang a hymn I had not sung before but was appropriate for the day; ‘God of Eve and God of Mary’ before the reading from Luke 2.33-35.
In the sermon she explained that she had two grandchildren one only a few months old and a five year old at school, who had managed to set off the fire alarm!! We all want our children to have a good start. She reminded us that Friday had been Red Nose Day. Apparently Ed Sheeran had written about a trip to Liberia West Africa, where he found appalling conditions, far worse than he could imagine. Yet in all the poverty and deprivation the children had dreams to a doctor, teacher or Politician. One 12 year old girl, whose father had died of Ebola had worked for a year to support her family and could not go to school. She sang a song in tears as it reminded her of her father.
What did Mary think about Simeon’s words? She had no idea what would happen, but wanted the best for the child, as Moses’ mother did. It was the second visit to the temple; the first would have been for the circumcision of Jesus. Mary had then needed 40 days of purification after the birth of a boy when she needed to offer 2 pigeons to redeem her son. If a girl had been born she would have needed 80 days of purification! Every first born son was dedicated to the Lord and 5 shekels paid back to the priest to claim her son back. A child was not a gift but only leant by God.
A child is precious and there are those who need assistance to conceive or have no family. Other children are failed by their homes or others. The Charity Action for Children helps those children and young carers, and those who have been abused; they give parenting advice and teach skills to one parent families, and those affected by death or family breakdown. Rio Ferdinand was going to talk about how he acted as a mother and father to his children after his wife’s death.
Simeon was a good man, who believed that he would see the Messiah before he died. He did not believe that he would come in violence to overthrow the Romans; he just waited quietly in prayer. His words are now known as the ‘Nunc Dimitis’. Now he knew he had met the Messiah and was ready to depart in peace. How would we have felt? The message described how the child would bring salvation; his mother’s soul would be pierced by a sword. Simeon was overjoyed, but he knew that the child and his followers would face opposition culminating with Good Friday. We can only weep with his mother Mary before the joyous Easter Day. Joseph loved Jesus as his own; he and Mary trusted in God to help them. We can thank those who have cared for us and the church which sustains us. As a church we can create a safer space, an environment where all feel safe and loved. We should aim to be more caring for each other and others in the world in need. We need to be childlike, open hearted and grateful.
She prayed for the world that violence might end and barriers be overcome. The terror attacks affected someone’s father, mother, brother or sister. She prayed for a better world for all and for all those who have cared for us in life’s journey. She wished all God’s people a happy Mother’s day. She completed the sermon with the collect for the day.
We sang ‘God is love. His the care’ before she led the prayers of intercession and the Lord’s Prayer. Worship concluded when we sang, ‘Now thank we all our God.’ It was a thoughtful, worshipful service.