Prayer During the Day for Mothering Sunday 14th March

service 14 2 21

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday is likely to be difficult for many this year. This is the second year we are in lockdown and just popping round to mum’s house with a bunch of flowers is completely out of reach for those who don’t live close to their mothers. It is always a complicated festival as adverts for cards and flowers and gifts are hard on those who wanted children but didn’t have them or those who have difficult relationships with their mothers.  In 2021 there will be many households where mum died of Covid and there is no one to send flowers and a card to. It will be a first for many and there will be grief.

For others the celebration of Mother Church is equally difficult. We know that the church struggles with issues around sexuality but in 2021 it has been made clear that it also struggles with racism. Along with the stance that some churches take on women’s ministry, we have a church that does not welcome everyone, however much we want to believe it does.

That is uncomfortable but we cannot heal what we cannot name.

As a mother I can stay with all honesty that motherhood is not easy. For all those mothers who have homeschooled this past year I salute you. A tough gig got so much harder. Mothering is not all hearts and flowers however nice it is to get chocolates, flowers, a card and maybe a nice bottle of rose for Mothering Sunday (I can hope they are reading this!)

This week in our gospel we see one of the most harrowing images of the cost of motherhood. Mary the mother of Jesus is at the foot of the cross. The Mary that we saw on our Christmas cards as a young woman with her new baby is alone but for three friends. She watches her son dying. The son she gave birth to, nurtured as a toddler, raised as a child and was angry with as an adult is dying slowly. What can she do? She can’t make this better. All she can do is be there. That takes courage.

We live in a world that is full of words yet sometimes the most powerful thing we can do is be present, wordless. To witness.

As Christians we may be moved to pray yet the words won’t come. If the pain is too great, then words fall silent. Perhaps all we can do is hold our hands in a gesture of prayer, or just want to pray and hope that is enough.

As Jesus is dying he sees his mother and his compassion overcomes his pain and he names her new son his friend the beloved disciple. If we believe that Jesus is both fully human and fully God, we see in this act God’s loving kindness and justice and mercy in the words of Jesus. That is what our God is like. God sees us. God is with us even in times where words cannot do justice to the pain that is felt.

We face the reality of what happens next over Easter. The pain of Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Frightened women at the tomb on Easter morning and the joy at the resurrection.

Our God is a God of surprises and Easter Sunday is coming but until then we are seen and we are loved.

Gospel Reading John 19.25b-27
Standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Sunday 17th January 2021

service 17 1 21

One of the hardest things in prayer is to listen.  It is really easy to tell God what we want and what we think God should do but it is really hard to listen to what God might be saying to us. In today’s reading Samuel hears the call of God but mistakes it for his master Eli.

It can be hard to know how to listen to and make sense of the news let alone to God in prayer!  An increasingly digital world should have given us access to so much information from so many viewpoints yet it seems that we mostly live in our echo chambers listening to the views that reflect our own. It can be hard work to hear the views of others. This week I have found myself reading a lot of commentary on the events in the Capitol Building in the USA on the 6th January. The raw footage of what happened is available on the net. The opinions of those who truly believe that the election of Joe Biden was fraudulent can be read or viewed. It is easy to dismiss others as wrong before we start to listen and that frames what we hear.

There is a great deal of wisdom in our reading for today when faced with uncertainty. Eli is a flawed man. His time as a leader is not covered in glory yet he recognises that God is speaking to Samuel. It would have been so easy to ignore the child who was kept waking him up. Although the word of God is rare at this time Eli trusts that it is God speaking and he encourages the child to listen. That takes humility and courage.

God could have had a message for Samuel about how Eli had failed yet Eli gives the child the permission to listen and the freedom to do that without someone else getting in the way. Flawed as he was Eli was a man of prayer and able to put his agenda to one side so that young Samuel could become the prophet who would speak truth to power.

Can we be more Eli?

There is hope that our current lockdown will be eased with the roll out of the vaccine. The world has changed. What will our calling be in this new world and how do we hear it? Time to look to our listening? Who knows where it will lead…

 

Sunday 10th January 2021

The church is closed for public worship. Our Sunday service is simple to allow those who have no online access to take part as well as those who can use phones, tablets and computers to access it.

Service 11th Jan  yes it is the wrong date but it is the right service!

Revd Karen’s reflection on Mark 1 4-11 is below the video

This week’s gospel tells of how John baptises Jesus in the river Jordan. The text is at the end of this blog past.

washing

John calls for repentance and the forgiveness of sins and this is done with water. Washing is a very powerful metaphor in 2021. There is clean water. There is soap. There is time spent pausing to do something routine and simple. The miracle is that this act breaks down the surface of the virus that has killed so many people and destroys it. Washing is a powerful symbol in the Christian faith and a very effective tool in the fight against the Corona virus.

In the Church of England, we often baptise babies so the sense that in baptism is about washing away sin makes no sense as babies are not yet able to make decisions about what they do or what they don’t do. This is why some parts of the church only baptise adults. In the gospel John is calling for repentance and it is following that repentance that baptism can take place – the past is washed away and there is a new start. Of course we are only human and we make mistakes again but the important part is that we acknowledge that we are at fault.

In this week where we have seen deaths from CV19 hit record highs in the UK and the storming of the centre of democracy in the USA something as simple as admitting that we can be wrong, repentance seems to be in short supply. To be fair we are in the middle of a global pandemic and it is easy to see faults in a country other than your own. The ability to blame the other and deny fault over the storming of the Capitol Building is astonishing yet how often do we do the same thing ourselves? Do we listen to all sides of an argument before we do something or just the people in our echo chamber? Do we do what we want because we can or do we consider the impact on our neighbours?

In baptism the symbolism of washing away sin is profound. We know that something as simple as washing our hands whilst singing happy birthday twice or a couple of verses of your favourite hymn will reduce the spread of the virus. Can we take the simple act of washing and wonder what difference that would make in our lives if we could wash away all those little acts of unkindness and selfishness? How might we change if we could admit that we were wrong? That the decision we took yesterday was right in the context of the information we had then but the world has changed and now it is not the right thing to do? Just as washing is part of the armoury of our fight against the virus so repentance is part of the Christian way of life. It is a simple start. But in that simple start Jesus heard a voice from heaven say “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Stay safe.

Keep washing those hands.

Remember that we make mistakes because we are human but we can ask for forgiveness.

Mark 1:4-11 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.  Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.  I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Photo credit Geetanjal Khanna at www.freelyphotos.com