The Civic and Parish Church of Bournemouth

Mothering Sunday Service

This is our first quickly pulled together service – so although not a polished performance – has the important messages, so please enjoy and keep watching each week. Be safe

Welcome to these reflections on Mothering Sunday.Whilst we have got used to worshiping together in the same building, if we pause at around 10am each Sunday morning, and consciously open ourselves to God- with an awareness of others doing the same – we can be united in the love of God even as we wait attentively upon her. It’s easy: God will always ‘do the work’, not us; and we just need to be there for God, attentively waiting upon her and expecting her love and peace.

Perhaps the pronoun ‘her’ for God is unexpected- or maybe for you it’s something you have always taken for granted, that God must be female as well as male- and even more as well – but certainly those two ways of being human must reflect deep realities at the heart of the divine. Those truths about God are made real for us in ourselves and in each other.  

So on Mothering Sunday I give thanks for my own mother and for Lucinda, the mother of our four children. Most of us are in a position of giving thanks for our mothers – some of us are also blessed with being parents, but I’m under no illusions as to who did most of the parenting!  So I’ve shared with you a picture that sits on my desk of Lucinda holding Katharine, our first-born, 31 years ago.  So much for which to give thanks!

I’ve also sent a picture that is opposite my desk of Mary holding her baby, Jesus.  Lucinda’s mother gave me this picture ages ago and I like it, not just because of that association, but because Jesus looks real, as he looks round at us, but very intent upon getting his milk supply, and Mary, like all good mothers, is simply looking down on Jesus with adoring love. Now that is how God sees each of us.

Today challenges us to move a step away from the rather tough and judgemental image of a male God that has rather predominated Christian history and to enjoy the equal reality of God as a mother who looks down on us adoringly.  God, of course, is bigger, vaster – qualitatively greater than any one image of her – nonetheless, Sallie McFague, in her book ‘Models of God’, insists rather compellingly, I find, that If we miss out on God as mother, lover and friend – all central Biblical images that we’ve slightly pushed under the carpet of our unsubtle paternal interpretations, we have missed out on something massive and life-affirming. Mothers are, of course, about life-giving and sustaining those they love. God as mother gives, and keeps on giving, our life with every heart-beat, and she draws us into relationships of love with each other. God is the trustworthy parent to us as child; God is the lover to us as beloved; God is with us as one Friend to another. And life’s continuity is sustained through blood, water, breath, sex and food.  Conception, gestation and birth all express God’s power to renew and transform life.But our Gospel reading brings us down to earth with a bump. Mary stands at the foot of Jesus’s cross, and she agonises with her son’s suffering, as do all mothers for their children.Mothering love is self-giving, self-emptying and brings mothers their share in the crucifixion.  It draws into sharp focus the self-giving and pain of all love, not least, that of God for us.John 3:17. ‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall … have eternal life,’ 

Enjoy Mothering Sunday. Give thanks for our mothers, and for our opportunities as parents to sharing the mothering love of God. Give thanks to God for her unending mothering love – and lie back and enjoy it!