Mothering Sunday – evening
Sunday 31st March 2019
Lent 4 – Mothering Sunday – evening
Luke 2. 33-35
Revd Preb Maureen Hobbs
We live in a time when parents are made to feel very fearful for their children’s welfare. When many adults have become fearful of their children and their friends. When – statistically – young men – boys – have the most to fear – either from becoming victims of crime or violence, or both. They also – so it seems – have the hardest task to realise their potential as they grow up; to take advantage of the education that is made available to them. To avoid the twisted version of sex that they too often pick up from porn sites on the internet. To negotiate appropriately the adult world of relationships and engagement.
Whether through peer pressure, lack of parental support and encouragement, lack of suitable male role models … we can speculate any number of reasons, but boys too often find it hard to achieve.
It is not easy to be a child these days – especially a boy child. It is not easy to be a mother – and mothers and sons often share a special affinity – as do fathers and daughters – whether we believe in the theories of Dr. Freud or not!
The origins of ‘Mothers’ Day’ (which is of course an American import) but was not originally a sentimental and schmaltzy excuse for more over-indulgence with flowers and chocolate … as pleasant as those things are.
Rather it was originally a Peace Movement of American Mothers who were sick and tired of being asked to mourn and bury their dead sons as a result of the Civil War in the USA. Mothers’ Day was a day of prayer and activism for Peace.
Mothering Sunday, is a time when maybe we should also remember the millions of mothers around the world today who will see their child die… through poverty, through lack of decent sanitation, through poor health care, through hunger – as well as through war and violence. And a day for considering the part that ‘mother church’ can play in fostering good models of behaviour and respect between human beings.
The mother of Moses – whose name is never revealed – (although legend has it as Jochebed) took desperate measures to try to protect her son and give him at least a chance of surviving into adulthood. If that chance involved setting him adrift on a river that could be infested with crocodiles – then we can imagine how desperate she must have felt.
She belonged to an oppressed and persecuted minority in a society where those at the top possessed conspicuous wealth – and enjoyed flaunting it. I imagine that many mothers and fathers, fleeing war and persecution today, must go through just the same sense of desperation and hope as they consign their children to the people smugglers.
Through the desperation and audacious cheek of Moses’ mother – maybe through the initiative of the baby’s older sister, Miriam – she was able to remain with her infant son a few precious months more. And then to have the satisfaction of knowing that he was being raised in a royal household – with all the prestige and advantages that entailed.
We never hear of her again. So we don’t know if she was still alive when her son apparently threw it all away because of his sense of injustice and a hot temper? Young men (and women come to that) are prone to do wild and irresponsible things that vex their parents and make them especially fearful for their children. Many a mother has felt her heart or soul ‘pierced’ like Mary – either because of something their child has done – or because of something that has befallen them. Just ask the mothers of the teenage knife crime victims throughout the country in the past few weeks and months.
In the case of Moses it was to be many years further before it became apparent that God’s purposes for him were to be worked out in rescuing his people – a whole nation – and leading them towards the promise of a better future.
Sometimes it is only our parents – only our mothers even – that can have faith that we will amount to anything in life. But my guess is that no mother ever really gives up hoping that her child will ‘make good’ in the world – even if the present reality seems unpromising and dangerous.
Wouldn’t it make a great Mothering Sunday if we could pray for and deliver a world where mothers do not have to witness the death of their children through war, or violence, or hunger, or poverty? Then, like Simeon in the Temple we too might be able to say, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy Salvation.”
Happy Mothering Sunday.