What day is it today?
I promise it's not a trick question...today, if you look at your Grapevine, is very firmly described as
NOT Mothers' Day....because for us in church at least, though today is a day when we do celebrate and thank God for our mothers, we celebrate even more the huge army of people who mother us....
Our Old Testament reading highlights the truth that, in the words of an African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child, as it gives us a picture of the infant Moses receiving love, care and nurture from not one but three mother figures – and I'm confident that it's worked that way for most of us.Each one of us needs so much love, care and encouragement...and I know as a mum that though I do my best, my children would have a very raw deal if they relied only on me – but I know that I've shared in the real work of mothering with so many others, just as I received that sort of care from many different people besides the loving and loved woman who gave birth to me.
If I had to make a list I'd start with her right enough, but I'd add at least 3 other women who showed me huge love and care as I grew up, the parents of friends who supported me when my own parents died, teachers, men and women, who encouraged me and brought out the best in me, friends of my own age who took care that I wasn't alone at the traditional family times....And I'd need to mention lots of children – my own included – who've known when I might need a hug to help me feel better, or worked hard to make me smile...
So much mothering given and received, - and that's just how it should be.
Today can be difficult for many people.Some of us never knew our mothers, or lost them along time ago.Some of us have children who have disappointed us, or whom we have disappointed.Some of us longed for children but found that it didn't work out...or have suffered the awful pain of losing a much loved child.
Life is often messy, never perfect, - and families are just the same ...whatever the greetings card industry might like us to believe
But the message today is that family exists where people are loving towards one another – not just where there are mum, dad and children.
Our gospel reading shows us how that sort of family can be created...as Jesus asks his mother to look after his best friend, and that friend to look after his mother.
He knows that he won't be there to care for either of them but wants the best for both of them...so here, even while he's telling John that Mary is now HIS mum, and Mary that John is to be her son, it's mostly Jesus that does the mothering.
You see, you really don't have to be a woman, let alone a MOTHER, to share in that important work
It's something we can all do...
Jesus brings a new family to birth through his loving care and the family he establishes is the family that's here today...the Church.
In this family, we can and should share in the work of mothering...
That is what we celebrate today.
Mothering Sunday is about ALL those who mother us, women, men and children – those who care for us, who teach us and help us to grow. We go on needing people like that whether we're 5 or 50 so let's ask God to help us to share his work of mothering, of loving and caring for one another and let's make our church a true family where all are welcome.