35th Letter to our Church Members

Letter 35

My Dear Friends, the Sunday after next (March 14th, 2021) will mark one year to the day (almost) since we closed our church doors; one year since we last had a Sunday Communion Service in the church.  Little did any of us imagine we would have to go through such a different and difficult year!  At this stage, we are still unclear as to when we will be able to gather safely to worship within our church building. Please continue to pray for the leaders of Sion Baptist Church as they, along with you all, discern the best time (God’s timing) and way to make this happen. The deacons and I will be meeting virtually next Thursday, March 11th, to consider how we might proceed in the near future and to make longer term plans as well. Your thoughts on these matters are important to us, so please, if you wish to contribute to these conversations, do speak to us or write to us.

                Some Sundays in the Christian calendar cause me great confusion. I’m never sure exactly what to do with Mother’s Day or Mothering Sunday, or indeed what to call it! What should we teach or preach? How do we ensure that this day doesn’t become altogether indistinguishable from the secular holiday of cards and flowers and chocolates? And, then, what of those women who carry the perennial sadness that they never became mothers; or those many people whose mothers may (or may not) have failed them in some way? Some children, plainly, have no wish or capacity to remember their mothers with forgiveness or affection. What of them? What of those mothers whose own children do not wish to see them and who, in so doing, bar them from ever seeing their grandchildren? It happens, as we know only too well!

                For so many people…and for so many of us… this anniversary is (and will be) loaded with emotion. The year of the pandemic has conspired, in the most cruel ways imaginable, to keep mothers and their children apart. The year has seen mothers and fathers die alone from Coronavirus, in hospitals and care homes; countless children were unable to say their goodbye to the mothers that bore and loved them. Their grief is compounded. Recently I took a funeral where only eight family members could gather to remember one mother. How unfair and how sad…and how wrong!

                This presents a hermeneutic and pastoral conflict. But invariably, God’s Word will point us in the right direction. There are just too many references to mothers in scripture to simply ignore them. He will show us the right, the balanced way, of celebrating this day; and I can think of no better passage of scripture to help us than Paul’s exhortation to us in Romans 12: 15: 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn

                Here is the answer. We should rejoice with those whose mothers love them, or have loved them; we should give thanks, unreservedly, for those who are blessed with good experiences of mothering, in the giving and in the receiving. We must, surely, remember, too, those women who, though not our biological mothers, “mothered us” – and taught us. At the cross, Jesus gave his mother to his friend John (John 19: 25-27). Many a woman mothered us and nurtured us in our Christian faith and pointed us toward the saving God.

                The apostle Paul (Romans 16: 13) speaks of a friend, Rufus, whose mother should be remembered, because she is, “a mother to me also.” You do not need to be a mother biologically to mother or be a mother!  It almost goes without saying, but where would we be, any of us, without our mothers?!  I well remember Andy Robertson (my adoptive father) telling me as a boy, “Look after your mother. You only get one mother!” I know what he meant. Our very being and living is accounted for in the labour of a woman! (The man’s part in the process, it has to be said, is a little less onerous!)

                But it is equally right that we should mourn with those who mourn around this whole, bitter-sweet issue of mothers…and pray, “On Mothering Sunday Heavenly Father, we rejoice with thanks for all those who have mothered us in our lives. In a world that is broken and in need of your motherly love, please use us to aid others as you do us in providing comfort, nurture, protection and support. We ask that you grow us as carers to those who need us, so that we might celebrate your goodness together even through our own brokenness.” Mothers’ Union Liturgy for Mothering Sunday written by the staff and students of St Mellitus College www.mothersunion.org

 

In a fallen and broken but still beautiful world…maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)                                                                                                   MFR04/03/21

 


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