As I prepare the blog for Sunday, it’s Saturday evening and I’m putting the finishing touches to the Mothering Sunday sermon; I say sermon, but it’s become affectionately known as ‘the talky bit’ at our all-age Eucharists. And, once again, I’m faced with the fact that, for some, this day of refreshment on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, is a day of joy, celebrating mothering, our mothers, being a mother, whilst for others this is a day of hurt, feelings of loss, grief. It might even be a time of both joy and pain – bitter-sweet memories, hard to hold in check in the wide-eyed happiness of others.
With the help of the church warden and some of our young people, at the start of ‘the talky bit’ I’m going to be presented with a Simnel cake from which I shall take a slice (I now have a reputation for getting food – cake, chocolate, even bacon and eggs – into my sermons, talks and assemblies). The idea is that this will remind us of a time when domestic servants were given a ‘day off’ to visit ‘Mother Church’ with their families, visiting their mothers too, perhaps picking some wild flowers along the way and, in some instances, taking a Simnel cake too. I think that’s a good enough reason to scoff cake in front of the vicar (I’m the Assistant-Curate at Bourne Abbey, Lincolnshire). The hope is – and this ‘talky bit’ has been prepared by others as well as myself – that we will realise that the celebration of mothers on this day is a joyful, sumptuous slice of cake, but it is one slice of a much bigger cake, or, rather, a much bigger story. Wherever we’ve come from – whether we’re directly rejoicing in the gift of motherhood, or grieving at the loss of a mother or bearing the pain of not being able to be a mother (there are so many different scenarios), we all get to be a part of that bigger story, and we all have the example of devoted motherhood set before us in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary who said ‘yes’ to God and his call on her life and, giving birth to Jesus, points us to our Lord and Saviour.
Are we, likewise, going to say ‘yes’ to God and the bigger story of his love seen in Jesus Christ, child of Mary, Son of God. Because, amazingly, no matter our own personal pages and chapters in the story of life, when it comes to the huge story of God’s love, which has global proportions, we all can have our cake and eat it!
And as I finish and head off to bed soon (since the clocks go forward tonight!), I just have time to listen to a rendition of A Maiden Most Gentle and Tender; more directly suited, of course, to Christmas and Epiphany, but, then again, those festivals are also part of that bigger story aren’t they?
Rejoice and be glad at this Christmas [or Mothering Sunday] we pray,
Sing praise to the Saviour sing end-lessly.
Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.
Ave, Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.