Mothering Sunday 2010
A great crowd gathered and people from town after town came to Jesus. He said in a parable: ‘A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell on the path and was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up. Some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered for lack of moisture. Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. Some fell into good soil, and when it grew, it produced a hundredfold.’ As he said this, he called out, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’
(What follows is just a rough idea of the talk, which included quite a bit of conversation and improvisation.)
Mothering Sunday is a day when, traditionally, people give things to their mothers if they can. That might be an expensive gift or something simple and homemade. Perhaps, if your mother isn’t with you any more you might give something in her memory.
But I want to think a bit today of the other side of the coin. What has your mother given you?
Produce gift wrapped box.
Last week some of our children and young people were thinking about this and they made a display of their prayers of thanks for their mothers. There are all sorts of things they mention. Some of their mums give them really wonderful curries, or give them fun times together (read some of the prayers)
But if this box contained the things that your mother gave you, I wonder what might be in it? What has your mother given you?
Responses were shared that included things like “ a listening ear”, “a guide for living” “love”…
These are the gifts we remember today – probably they didn’t come in boxes with gift wrapping on them. They were given day by day as our mothers cared for us.
We’ve thought of lots of things that are positive. But I wonder too whether there are things our mothers have given us that might be harder to think of as gifts. Mothers are human beings. They – we – don’t always get it right. Sometimes mothers give you their anxieties, their hang ups, their prejudices as well as love and support. It can all be there in the bundle, and there’s no avoiding it, whether you like it or not.
Some people may not have known their mothers at all. Their mothers might have died or not been around to look after them. That might make them feel very left out today. But even then there is something precious those mothers have given them, the most basic gift that any mother gives.
Do you want to know what is in this box?
Ask a child to unwrap box . Inside there is a banner with the word “Life” written on it.
Without your mother you wouldn’t be here at all. Whatever else she has given you – whether you think those gifts were good ones or burdens – she gave you the gift of life. And that, in a way, from a mother’s point of view one of the most wonderful and scary too. Whatever you think having a child will be like, no one can prepare you for the amazing reality that you have brought into the world, a whole new human being, someone who will grow up and go on to have an independent existence, someone you can influence, but never own. It’s wonderful because your child will, with any luck, surprise you with their talents and their personality. It’s scary because you may also find that your child does things which cause pain or trouble. Probably both things will be true.
The Bible reading we heard, Jesus’ story about a sower, doesn’t have any mothers in it, nor any children either. But it does have someone who is trying to bring new life into being. The sower goes out to sow. He throws the seed all over the ground, but only some of it turns into fruitful plants. Some is snatched away by the birds before it’s had a chance to germinate, some is choked by weeds, some can’t put down its roots deep enough to survive. But the rest falls on good ground and grows strong and tall, producing 100 times as much again.
It’s not about mothers, as I said, but it seems to me that it is about life, about that precious gift we are each given – by our parents and by God.
Mothering Sunday is a chance to give thanks for that gift in the very best way possible, by living our lives fully. It is easy for us to find that the life we have been given is slipping away – choked by cares and busyness, lived in a shallow way because we don’t put our roots down, we just slide over the surface of life. We look at the days and weeks and years and think “where did that go?”
Instead God calls us to notice the world around us, to notice each other, to be ready to help, to be ready to try new things and guard old things.
That’s why today we are also giving thanks for others who may not be our biological mothers but who care for us and help us to live that life to the full. Adoptive mothers, fathers, grandparents and other relatives, friends who take a motherly interest in us, teachers and mentors. We give thanks for the Church too, for the care and encouragement we receive from others here. And we give thanks to God, our Heavenly Mother and Father, whose care for us is eternal.
Today we may recall all sorts of gifts your mother has given us. We may be able to give her flowers, chocolates, a meal out, to express our thanks, or we may remember her with gratitude if she’s no longer around. But the best thanks we can give to her and to everyone else who cares for us is to live that precious life we are given well.