1 Corinthians 13:4-13; John 15:5-17

Mothering Sunday 8am


Rev Tulo Raistrick

Today, Mothering Sunday, is not always the easiest of days. As the day has become increasingly detached from the Christian faith, it has perhaps lost some of the nuances of the past. It is a day for flowers, chocolates, special meals out, but amidst all that is positive in these celebrations, it is possible to miss that the day prompts in many people other feelings too.

For some, it may be the feelings of loss, their mothers no longer with them. Whether that loss is recent or decades ago, the pain and the sadness can still be there, and heightened on such a day.

For some, there may be the sadness of distance, whether geographically, living too far away to be able to share the day with them, or relationally, that sense of a complex, difficult relationship, one that is not always easy to maintain.

And for others, there is the sadness of not being a mother, or of no longer being a mother to a child no longer with them.

But as we will be doing in our Mothering Sunday service later today, we will still be taking the time to think about what we can be thankful for in our mothers, what qualities they have shown us. In that wonderful and famous passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, rightly beloved of wedding services, love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, not rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I wonder, as you think about your own mothers, what of those qualities do you see in them?

For our mothers, when they are at their best, give us an insight into how Christ loves us.

He loves us generously and abundantly – think of how he fed 5,000 people one time or made all the wine at the wedding of Cana

He loves us when times are difficult – think of how he cared for Mary and Martha when Lazarus dies, or how he healed Jairus’ little daughter when she was sick

He loves us humbly – he even washed his disciples smelly dirty feet

He loves us sacrificially – even dying for us on the cross

This is how much he loves us. And this is how we are to love others. Time and again during Jesus’ last discourse with his disciples, as they are sat round the table of the last supper, Jesus reminds them of his love, and encourages them, indeed commands them, to love one another as I have loved you. Once more, we hear that phrase repeated in today’s reading.

Our mothers, at their best, give us an insight, a glimpse, of what such divine love looks like. We too, at our best, can do likewise.

Just before Jesus told his disciples to “love one another as I have loved you”, he told them that he was the vine and they were the branches.

As a family we went 3-4 years ago to Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire. As well as having the world’s second biggest collection of rhubarb varieties (over 160 if you’re interested), in the greenhouses were growing some amazing vines, with branches stretching 20-30 feet away from the main trunk. These wonderful branches, in season, would be full of fruit, delicious grapes. But if these branches somehow got disconnected from the trunk, maybe they got broken off, it wouldn’t take long before these beautiful, fruitful branches began to shrivel up and die. Staying connected matters.

Today is a day when we remind ourselves not to take our mothers for granted. To remember how much we have needed them in the past. To remember maybe how much we continue to rely on them today.

Today is also a day to remember not to take Christ for granted either, of the importance of staying connected to him.

Last month, we thought about different ways we could use this time of Lent to grow in our love for God, to help us stay rooted in him. I wonder how are we getting on? What have we found helpful? Are there new insights into God’s love we have gained, new actions that we have found life-giving?

Later today, we will be encouraging people to take a daffodil as a reminder of Jesus’ encouragement to stay connected to him.

To look at the beautiful yellow petals – maybe they can be a reminder to us to be grateful to God for all the good things he gives. It reminds me of the old Sunday school song: “Count your blessings one by one and you’ll be amazed at what the Lord has done”

To look at the stem – maybe that can be a reminder that just as the stem draws up water and nutrients to keep the flower healthy, so we too can draw on the things that keep us spiritually healthy – prayer and reading God’s Word

To look at the flower as a whole –  what a miracle of beauty and grace it is. Maybe it is a reminder to us of the beauty of the world around us and of the God who makes and sustains life

And then to think about how you have come to receive this daffodil today – someone has grown it, someone has picked it, someone has given it to you. It is a gift of love. We stay connected to Christ when we give love to others too.

Do take away a daffodil today and use it to remind you to stay connected to Jesus.

Jesus shows us what true love is like. May we remain rooted in him, that we may come to love others as he loves us.