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: https://www.achurchnearyou.com 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)