Mothering Sunday is a bit like Marmite - you either like it or hate it.
If you are a Mum, then you may feel a bit special for a day because you may receive a card and a gift. Unfortunately, being taken out for lunch is unlikely this year for obvious reasons.
If the kids are still small, there are the homemade cards, full of glitter, which leave little sparkly bits on the carpet which join the pine needles you are still trying to vacuum up from Christmas.
If the kids are older or grown up, then you may get bunches of flowers or boxes of chocolate (to be put back until the end of Lent, of course!) You may receive a visit (remember to social distance yourself), a ‘phone call or even see the kids on Skype.
You might be thinking this doesn’t apply to you because you’re not a mum. You might think it’s irrelevant because, well, you’re a bloke - but I’ve known a great number of “blokes” who have been both father and mother to their kids, so bear with me because kids everywhere will have been plotting, planning and whispering this week and all to do with this coming Sunday, which these days we call “Mother’s Day.”
Originally, though, it was called “Mothering Sunday”. In the 16th century it was the tradition at this time of year to visit either the church where you’d been baptised or the nearest “significant” (‘mother’) church in the area.
Gradually this became an occasion for family reunions. Often children as young as ten left home to work as domestic servants, and this was the time to get back to see their Mum, and the rest of the family. Often the returning youngsters would pick wildflowers to take to church or to give to their mother as a small gift.
In modern times the emphasis has been much more on the “mother” bit, and much less on the “church” aspect, and it’s become a day focussed on appreciating mothers for the part they play in their children’s lives.
That’s lovely, of course, most mums enjoy the gifts of smellies and chocs, and the toast and tea in bed. But I also know it can be a really tricky day for people for all kinds of reasons. Experiences of parenting, and being parented, can be good and bad. But faith can be helpful, as we can discover in Jesus Christ someone who weeps when we weep, rejoices when we rejoice and loves us for who we are and not for what we‘ve done or what our family life looks like.
Even if we started out in life calling this something or someone by a male name - our Father who art in heaven – we find in the creation stories at the very beginning of the bible God “brooding” over the formless void - a very maternal description.
We can come to know and love the image of God as Mother too - and that idea of God has become a place to which many return time and again: a place where we are able to find comfort, healing and affirmation.
Our mothering may be but a pale reflection of God’s love for his world, but we can all do our best. Make this Mothering Sunday the start of our “mothering” of those with whom we come in contact with, even if you’re a bloke!
I hope this coming Mother’s Day can be a day for every mother – and every mother figure - everywhere, whatever their circumstances, to feel special - because they most definitely are!
And if just one life is better because of today, then, for that, thanks be to God.