Sermon for Mothering Sunday, March 22nd 2020

Luke 2:33-35  (NRSVACE)

33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Stabat Mater

 

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her Son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

 

Before reading this week’s sermon, I ask you to spend some time looking at the image of the Stabat Mater. Spend some time in quiet prayer reflecting on the words from the Gospel and the words of the hymn. Do this again after reading the sermon.

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 

I really cannot believe that within the space of a week that the world has completely turned itself upside down. I am not going to labour the point of the seriousness of the illness etc. as I think the media is busy terrifying the life out of us all. I firmly believe that part of the vocation of the Church is to offer a message of hope in this uncertain time. I am delighted with the desire among our congregation to serve those in need across our village, and hope and pray we may continue to help our community through prayer and loving service.

Whilst the situation presents us with a great number of difficulties, the one opportunity that is present to us, is to engage with our Lord in prayer. The many distractions of our normal lives are reducing as we are forced to spend more time in our homes. The upshot of this additional time is that we can make space for our Lord in prayer. I whole-heartedly recommend the Church of England’s provision of Daily Prayer (via website and app) which has been a mainstay of my own prayer life since I was a teenager. The fear that I know some of you are feeling at this time is understandable, and so I ask you all to hand your fears over to the Lord who will hold you in his arms and bless you in your suffering.

As we today remember mothers and all those who care, we look to the example of the Virgin Mary who knew the pain and suffering of watching her son suffering on the cross. All those who have a caring role suffer for their children, that is part and parcel of parenthood, we can look to the Virgin Mother as our pattern of unfailing love in a time of turmoil. We may have very real worries about the safety of our children and what the world will look like for them by the end of this crisis and so we may be feeling the piercing that Mary felt. There is, I think only one thing we can do, and that is to place all our concerns into the open arms of Christ on the cross who bears the pain of the world for us. The image of the Stabat Mater ‘sorrowful mother’ shows this beautifully. Christ on the cross gazes down at his mother showing concern for her. His face portrays something of ‘I am doing this for you and for the whole world’. The Virgin’ eyes are cast down to the ground to the base of the cross, where Christ’s blood is traditionally believed to have run into the earth to put an end to the sin of Adam. We see Christ in his humanity, saving us through his divinity.

I do not know how long we will face these uncertain times, but I know that we can continue to place our hope and trust in God, who will bless us and care for us at this time. The Church remains open, and I am always happy to meet with people in Church for private prayer at the high altar which pews at a suitable, ‘social’ (what bitter irony) distance. Whilst my heart is well and truly pieced by not being able the Holy Sacrament to you at this time, I want to encourage you all to consider Christ’s own actions on the night of his betrayal, and his institution of the sacrament after a meal. It may be something to consider in your own homes with some bread and wine, to mark a memorial of Christ’s glorious death and passion, and his triumph over death.

May almighty God bless you, his angels watch over you and the saints pray for you Amen

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

 


Printer Printable Version