Mothering Sunday 10th March

Today we celebrate Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, which in the Middle Ages and later allowed a degree of freedom from the Lenten discipline when labourers working away from their mother churches were free to make their way there to worship, and to visit their own mothers, bearing gifts. Today, sadly, although churches celebrate the day, for most families it is a day simply for celebrating mothers, for sending cards, and enjoying family meals. It is good when Mothering Sunday and Mother’s Day can be celebrated together.

Our OT lesson introduces us to Hannah – not a well-known OT figure, and only found in 1 Samuel. When we meet her she is in low spirits because, although loved by her husband, she has been unable to bear a child, and in consequences is looked down upon by her society, is treated as a child by her husband, and is taunted by his second wife who has borne children. In her grief and distress Hannah prayed to God in whom she trusts. She promises that if her request is answered she will dedicate her son to the service of God at the sanctuary at Shilo. When God answers her prayer Hannah fulfils her promise and offers the prayer that forms our first lesson and which would have been familiar to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, whom we meet in the second lesson.

Centuries later Mary, a young girl of perhaps 15, betrothed to Joseph, learns from the Angel Gabriel that she is to bear a son who will be the Messiah, long expected by the Jewish people. Overawed and overwhelmed by the honour bestowed upon her, Mary, too, trusts in God’s power and purpose, and later responds, according to Luke’s Gospel, in words not unlike those of Hannah centuries earlier, in praise of God in whose kingdom human values will be turned upside down.

It is in the life and ministry of Jesus, Son of Mary and Son of God, that the God whom both Hannah and Mary trusted and praised has been most fully   revealed. Throughout the ages and throughout today’s violent and troubled world, both mothers, and those who have not borne children, have experienced God’s love, forgiveness and grace through his Holy Spirit, for which we give him thanks and praise.



Revd Jean Hughes