The last Sunday in March, the 4th Sunday of Lent, is Mothering Sunday, when children of all ages give their mothers cards, flowers, or gifts to express their love and appreciation. The practice of giving flowers may have originated in Victorian times when girls and boys worked as maids and servants in the Manor house or other large houses often a distance from home. They were only allowed one day to visit their family each year which was usually on Mothering Sunday. As they walked home they would gather a posy of flowers from the hedgerows to give to their Mums to show them how much they loved them. Their mothers would have been overjoyed to see them again, after so long.
Motherhood, like the rest of human life, has its paradoxical side, its joys and its sorrows, its problems and its achievements. We see this reflected in the life of Mary, the young woman who had been chosen by God to bear his son Jesus. We can guess that as Mary responded to God’s call, little did she realise what the future would hold for both of them. Never in her worst nightmares could she have imagined that thirty years later she would be standing beside a Roman cross watching her son gasp away his life in agony, dying like a criminal for a crime he didn’t commit.
No other mother has had the responsibility of the care of the Saviour of the world thrust upon her, but each mother in her own way has the privilege of nurturing a child who in some way could have the potential to influence the world around him or her. Parenthood has never been easy but in this day and age there are even more pressures on both parents and children, so it seems appropriate to have a special day to give thanks for mothers and the love, care and understanding they have shown us.
On Mothering Sunday we also think about the church which from its earliest days has been known as Mother Church. In the Middle Ages especially, people thought of the church almost literally as a mother caring for her children, for it was the place that offered spiritual and physical comfort as well as being the place of art and culture, and of healing and caring for the sick. Today the church is still Mother Church, caring for the spiritual needs of her children, and like a mother she is here waiting for her children who have flown the nest to come back home, and to welcome in those who have had no experience of such a home.