Sunday, March 22, 2009

A bit like what I said

Mothering Sunday – the Caring Church (3rd in a 4 sermon series on aspects of the healthy church)

A couple of questions this morning.
What would you write if I asked for a "job description" for mothers?
And, as a supplementary, have you ever known one that lived up to it?
Each year on Mothering Sunday, while I feel happy and grateful for all the love and care I receive from my family, I also feel horribly uncomfortable, because I know that I just don’t match up to the ideal of motherhood the tv commercials would like us to see as the norm.
I shout at my children sometimes.
I seldom if ever welcome them with a smile into an immaculate home where a tasty and nourishing meal is cooking, making the whole house smell wonderful.
Far too often, I tell them to go away and let me carry on using the computer for something REALLY important….and on occasion I’ve even had to tell a distraught child that I can’t listen to their woes because I have to leave to take a funeral…
In fact, if my family depended on me for all their mothering, things would be pretty bleak.

However, all is not lost.

The 2 Cor reading talks about God's love for us…
"God of all consolation" makes me think of the way mums are always supposed to be ready to "kiss it better" no matter what. We can't always do that, but Paul tells us that God can - so we don't have to "mother" unaided. Of course, the idea that God cares isn’t exactly news, is it? You’re all here today because you either have, or are seeking, a relationship with God, and you might perhaps have direct experience of the way God cares for you, like a perfect loving parent. Even if your experience of human family relationships has been difficult or disappointing, God offers us real care, real love with no strings attached.
Of course, God is beyond male and female, but I hope that for today you’ll not feel too uncomfortable if I invite you to think about the motherly qualities of God … I’d like those of you who are parents to think back to when your children were tiny…Did you love them then? If so, can you think why??
Was it because they did wonderful things for you? My guess is, probably not.
My babies were excellent at crying, at demanding feeds, at filling nappies but I don’t remember that many cups of tea in bed, or bouquets of flowers in those days.
But I have to say that I quite definitely loved them because they were, and are, my children.
In the same way, God loves us because God loves us, because God loves us,
There is nothing we can possibly do to make God love us more.
There is nothing we can possibly do to make God love us less.
Each of us is Ioved, completely and fully, like a precious only child, held securely in a warm embrace.

God mothers us.

But there is more…The Gospel reading shows us a son (Jesus) who cannot be the son he'd like to be to his mother and a mother (Mary) who cannot be the mother she'd like to be to her son. The expectation of the time would have been that Jesus would have a duty to look after his mother, to care for her in old age while Mary, like any mother, would have longed to protect her child, hated to see him suffer.
But circumstances intervened. The ideal family seems to be breaking down at the foot of the cross…
But because Jesus knows that he and Mary can't be what they would like to be to each other, he entrusts her to John, and John to her.
Together they form a new family – the church….the family we belong to too.
We are a family for each other and even if we lose our own families, or things go badly awry with those relationships, here in God’s church we should find lots of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters to support us.

Remember, if you would, all those who have offered you love and care unlooked for…then reflect that within our Christian family each of us has a responsibility to share in the mothering of the world with God, by passing on the love and care we have been so freely given.
That is part of what being Church – the Body of Christ – is about.
Theresa of Avila understood this very well

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no feet but yours, no hands but yours.
Yours are the eyes through which the compassion
of Christ is to look out on a hurting world.
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good.
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless all now.
Christ has no body now but yours

Today, then, we celebrate all those who mother us in all sorts of areas of our lives. Let’s thank God for them, and be on the lookout for chances to share in the work of mothering the whole world for God’s sake.


Sally said...

Great stuff!!! I am glad that God does not call us to be perfect.

Song in my Heart said...

Thank you for posting this.

I have been, I continue to be, mothered in so many ways by so many different people. It can be overwhelming to think about it much. I'm only starting to see that very human love and care, offered despite frailty, as an expression or manifestation or earthly reflection of God's unconditional, steadfast love. It isn't always an easy concept; I learned a lot of the conditional, unreliable side of human love early in life, as so many do. I'm slow to trust, frightened of being hurt, as so many are. Posts like this help, though.

I'm rather rough around the edges and in some ways not an easy person to spend time with, but I hope that I pass on some of that love and care. I try to.