What is it?
Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, is a day to celebrate Mothers and important women in our lives. However, various sources, including the Church of England’s website here, point out that the origins of this day are in a tradition to return to your mother church; the church where you were baptized.
Either way, although it is a celebration, as a church family we must also recognize that for some Mothering Sunday is full of pain.
- the pain of grieving for their own mother, or the pain of their broken relationship with their mother
- the anguish of not being able to have children or the grief of losing a child
- the guilt of giving up children
- the distress of being mother to someone else’s children
- the wrench of having to mother children from a distance
- the pain of father’s who experience the above
What does it mean to me?
- a daughter of a flawed but simultaneously wonderful mother
- a flawed but full of love mother of two children
- a woman who has experienced the pain of miscarriages
- someone who has therefore experienced the anxiety that I may not be able to be a mother
- a child of god
What does the Bible have to say about God and church as Mother?
Hosea chapter 11 describes God’s love for his people in terms of a parent, particularly like a mother.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called, the more they went away from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek,
and I bent down to feed them.”
Hosea 11: 1-4
Or Jerusalem, the home of God, is described by Isaiah as loving like a mother.
As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;
and you will be comforted over Jerusalem
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
And Paul writes
“We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
1 Thessalonians 2:6-8
The church is the bride of Christ and mother to her children. We are the church, the body of Christ in the world. Therefore, we are called to be mother to each other; to care for, to nurture, to rebuke when necessary but to help and sustain. To love as Jesus loves.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”
See also: Isaiah 49:15, Isaiah 66:7-13, Galatians 4:26, Matthew 12:46-50