Mothering Sunday & Covid-19

Today it’s Mothering Sunday. It’s also the first Sunday that churches across the Church of England have been unable to meet, since Covid-19 stretched its disastrous legs over the waters to our small green island.

Mothering Sunday is, unlike in the USA, a tradition of the Church. It has no fixed date, as it falls during Lent (and Lent / Easter changes each year). Mothering Sunday was, historically, the day when everyone would visit their ‘mother church’ – either their nearest parish church, cathedral or the church where they were baptised as an infant. Later, it came to mean the day during the year when domestic servants were given the day off to visit their ‘mother church’, as well as their own mothers. On their way home, children would pick wildflowers to give as gifts to their mothers. Within time, this religious tradition became a secular one, where children across society now give presents to their mums.

So what’s Mothering Sunday got to do with Covid-19 (Coronavirus)? Well, we were called to prayer from 7-8pm today (Sunday 22nd March 2020), by the Archbishop of Canterbury. A national day of prayer where we all, across the Christian tradition, join in prayer to our faithful and good God.

Towards the end of my time of prayer I sang loudly on my own in my living room, with a candle flickering. I felt an urge to sing the song “Shout to the Lord”, so I found it on my phone and began to sing. Before I knew it, I was crying as I declared:

Shout to the Lord, all the earth let us sing
Power and majesty, praise to our King.
Mountains bow down and seas will roar at the sound of his name.

(Darlene Zschech, Shout to the Lord)

This is the power of the God who loves us: mountains bow down before him; seas roar at the sound of his name. This virus, though a mountain to us, is nothing.

And so, to Mothering Sunday: a return to our home church. Perhaps now is the time for us all to return to our home churches. The church where you were baptised. Your nearest cathedral. Your local parish church. Maybe you don’t know where yours is. You can find out here: Maybe you’ve never been to church before. You are welcome. Maybe you’re thinking, but they’re closed. They are, but many are meeting online – via Facebook, Youtube or their own websites.

Come. Come back to church. Join us, as we pray that our God would breakthrough in this place and at this time. Come, find rest. Come, find the God who causes seas to roar and mountains to bow. Come, find Jesus.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

(Matthew 11:28-30, MSG Version)

Mothering Sunday

Gone again, another Mothering Sunday. It’s a celebration, which is mums have hijacked but which had very little to do with us back in the 14th Century.

It was the one day a year that those in service could get away from work and go to their MOTHER church, that is their home church. They could be reunited with their sending community and, of course, their mothers too. It was more to do with community and family, than the celebration / appreciation of mothers that it has become.

Having said all that, I’m delighted to be appreciated on this Mothering Sunday. Up and down the country, year after year, churches prepare flowers (usually daffodils) so that children can give them to their mothers as part of the service. Growing up, I loved handing out these flowers, first to my mum, and then to any other women present that Sunday. When I was around 13 or 14, I was no longer a part of that ceremony, preferring to help others give the flowers out. This continued into my 20s. Each year I’d find some small, slightly shy child and take their hand so they could come to the front, gather a token of appreciation, and give it a lady in the congregation.

It was only 3 years ago that I shifted into the next phase: receiving. I was sat in the congregation, 26 years old and very much not a mother, when suddenly a child approached with flowers for me. And another. And another.

I wasn’t a mother, but I was involved in Sunday School. I was involved in various children’s lives. 

Now, I am a mother. This is my second Mothering Sunday. It’s wonderful receiving a token of appreciation from my daughter (and husband). It’s wonderful seeing mothers being celebrated everywhere. It is wonderful to take a moment and reflect about the women who have nurtured us and influenced us, so that we may be thankful for them.

So, whether you are a mother, or not… whether you are alone, or in a partnership… whether you have a colicky baby, a grumpy teen or middle aged offspring…

You are needed.

You are appreciated.

You are loved.