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Mother’s Day Reflection

March 16, 2010

Here is a Mother’s Day reflection given by my wife at Church on Sunday. I liked it because it wasn’t the usual sappy, sentimental stuff and also because it recognised that not all women find it a day to celebrate.

A Reflection for the 4th Sunday in Lent

In the 16th century, Britain was changing. People were leaving the farms and the rural areas and taking up jobs and apprenticeships in new towns and communities. Children as young as 10 were forced to leave the family home for education of for employment. In those days, the 4th Sunday of Lent became known as Refreshment Sunday. All the Lenten rules were relaxed. There was no fasting or hardship for this was a Sunday of celebration. By the 17th century it had become a public holiday, when servants and apprentices were given the day off so that they could fulfil their relgious duties to the Church.

By the time of the Industrial Revolution the fourth Sunday of Lent was, for many people, the only day of the year when whole families were re-united. Even those in domestic service were allowed the day off to return home to their communities and, most importantly, to their Mother Church,

Thus the day became known as Mothering Sunday, not through association with mothers, but because of the tradition of returning home to your Mother church, back to the community which had nurtured you in the faith. On the journey home, people often stopped to pick flowers and some brought with them a special cake made from fine wheat flour called simila, which became known as simnel cake, and which was decorated with 11 balls of marzipan representing the disciples – without Judas Iscariot

This understanding of Mothering Sunday represents a fine tradition, most of which has been smothered in the commercialism and sentimentality of Mother’s Day.

But maybe just for today, for these few moments here in the Ballycrochan, we should resurrect the original purpose of the day. Not to disrespect the mothers in the congregation, of which I am one, but in order to recover something more inclusive. For not every woman experiences this as a happy day.

In this older tradition of Mothering Sunday we are reminded that for all of us, men and women, boys and girls, this church has played an important part in nurturing us in faith. In a very real sense this community has ‘mothered’ us in the faith.  And that is worth celebrating.

And finally, in acknowledging the Mothering role this church has played in our lives, we have an opportunity also to pause and remember all those who have travelled out from us. Those who are unable to return to us this Easter, because they are working, studying or living in some distant place.

This Mothering Sunday is an opportunity to remember the children of Ballycrochan Presbyterian Church to whom we have had to say goodbye.

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