Many of us will have had plans for Mothering Sunday, usually a genuinely joyful and
celebratory moment in the church calendar. We certainly had plans for a special celebration
as our two congregations had planned to join together this Sunday. Instead, today the
national mood feels sombre and millions will understandably feel a deep level of
uncertainty. None of could ever have imagined this Sunday would look or feel so different
after the far-reaching changes in our day-to-day lives that have been put into effect this
week. I wonder how you are feeling today. Perhaps anxious, perhaps even afraid; so much
change so quickly and an unknown future. We are in a deeply unexpected place, a place that
none of us would choose to be.
St Paul had many gifts and attributes not least as a brilliant theologian and church planter.
But one of the secrets of the fruitfulness of his ministry, which perhaps could be overlooked,
was his ability to be able to experience the joy which his faith gave him in all circumstances
however hard. And he seemed to face more extreme hardships, and more often than most
of us ever will.
Today’s reading from his second letter to the church in Corinth is a great
example as he begins with praise to God-why? Because he has learned that God is the God
of all compassion and comfort. And that God is with us in every situation no matter how
What makes Christianity unique is that we worship a God who is not remote from suffering,
who is not far off, but a God who is near, who came and lived amongst us and knows what
suffering pain and even death feels like. A God who knows us better than we know
ourselves, who can and does comfort us.
As a parent, as a mother my strong desire as it became clear the virus was spreading to our
shores, was to have my family all safely home. There was that instinct to protect, even
though of course my children are adults and are not in need of my protection.
It reminds me of the lovely picture given by Jesus of how God is like a mother hen longing to
gather her chicks under her wings even though the chicks are not always willing to be
gathered. Any of us who have been around young children know all too well that a young
hurting child’s place of comfort is to snuggle into their parent for both comfort and
None of us know what even this coming week will bring but what we do know as people of
faith, is that we have a God who is infinitely compassionate, who will be with us through it
all and whose nature as a heavenly parent is to protect, comfort and strengthen.
That’s why when St Paul talked about being sustained by God’s grace in all the hardships he
experienced, this wasn’t just eloquent words or vague hopes. Paul knew the literal reality of
being emotionally, physically and spiritually strengthened, sufficient to work out the calling
God had given him; the calling to support, encourage and reach out to his brothers and
sisters in Christ and the churches he had founded.
In the same way through the grace of
God let’s also reach out in support and encouragement to one another, to those closest to
us, our families, and to those around us in our communities, our neighbours and friends.
That may be through prayer or a telephone call or an email or, if we can, by one of the many
online means through social media. Or it may be practical help – do see the notice below
which suggests how we may be able to serve our wider community. None of us knows how
long this will last but wouldn’t it be special if each of us were able to look back when it does
end and recognise that we had all grown a bit in our practical love and care for one another.
So whatever you are doing this Mothering Sunday, may you know the grace of God
strengthening you and enabling you to reach out with same parental love of God, in care
and nurture of one another.