Last Sunday (22nd March) was the fourth Sunday of Lent and the first Sunday of church closures. Advertising reminded us that it was “Mothers Day”, a development from the old tradition of “Mothering Sunday”, when people travelled from their village churches to the “Mother Church”.
Those were the days when teenage sons and daughters from poorer families might go away to work on the estates of the wealthy, living in as farm hands or scullery maids. But on Mothering Sunday they got a day off to go to Church, and so might well have ended up enjoying a family reunion. Not so different in some respects, then, from families today getting together to take Mum out to lunch.
This year of course was completely different. Not only was it impossible or at least highly inadvisable to take Mum out to lunch, but congregations were denied the opportunity to gather together for worship.
Services broadcast via the BBC reminded us to celebrate the joys of the togetherness of family life even though the family might be scattered and even out of internet range.
There is however another strand to this particular day for it is also known as Laetare Sunday, “laetare” being the Latin word meaning “to rejoice” (the girl’s name Letitia means joy). The thinking behind this is that as we are past the half-way point of Lent, it’s permissible to turn our thoughts towards the victory of resurrection and the joy of Easter.
Reflecting on this today (26th March) I see how poignant both these themes have become: the preciousness of family life and all it means to us in the here and now together with the promise of eternal life in the future.
Let us pray
our Creator, Lord and Sustainer
A thousand ages in your sight
are as an evening gone,
as we sing in the hymn
For those truly denying themselves
in this season
40 days is a long time
as it is for the one who has managed to be 40 days sober or 40 days clean
Even 40 minutes may seem like a long time today
especially for elderly and vulnerable folk who have been advised to stay indoors
parents trying to get their children to focus on their school work
employees working from home but missing the office banter or teabreak chat
Some will feel lonely, denied the visits of their family and friends
while others are longing for some peace and quiet in a house filled with people
So keep reminding us, Father, that wherever we are and however we’re feeling
you are with us
In the death and resurrection of your Son you give us the victory
You give us a reason for celebration, for hope, for joy
Fill us with your Holy Spirit
so that we might reflect that joy in our daily lives
however changed our routines might be
for the sake of the One who lived and died and rose again; Amen