14th March 2021 - Mothering Sunday
APC 14th March 2021 “Mother’s Day”
Welcome and Introduction
Welcome to our Mother’s Day Service. Today is a special time to thank God for mothers and all who help our families to flourish and grow well. It’s also a time to celebrate our church family where we are all united together as brothers and sisters in Christ, with God as our perfect heavenly parent.
Call to Worship
We gather together to worship
our loving, nurturing God,
who, like a mother,
knows us intimately,
loves us unconditionally,
teaches us the way we should go,
and comforts us in times of need.
This is our God.
What a blessed assurance to know that God our Father loves us and cares about all our concerns and sadness in these difficult days…Let’s worship Him now as we sing together, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”.
(End Part 1)
Opening Song “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine”
Because God is our loving Father, we know we can come to Him anywhere, at any time and pour out our hearts to Him. Let’s take a moment to do that now. Let’s pray…
Gracious God, as a mother loves her child, so you love us. For that great truth we praise and thank you.
We owe our very lives to you. You have watched over us from our birth, tenderly nurturing us, showering us with love. When we have needed you, you have been there. For that great truth we praise and thank you.
You have given us strength in times of need, comfort in times of distress, encouragement in times of despair, guidance in times of uncertainty. Whatever we have faced, you have been with us. For that great truth we praise and thank you.
Gracious God, we have not always appreciated your love, all too often ignoring what you would teach us, disobeying your instructions, taking you for granted and wandering far from your side. Yet through it all your love has remained constant. For that great truth we praise and thank you.
Gracious God, caring for us more than you care for yourself, sacrificing your all for our sakes, loving us with unquenchable love, you have called us all to be your children. For that great truth we praise and thank you, in the name of Christ…
Join with me now as we say the Lord’s Prayer thoughtfully and sincerely together…
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Introduction to Kids Video
We come now to the art of our service that’s especially for the younger members of our church family. So if your kids aren’t beside you right now, why not pause the recording, and call them in to watch our friend Douglas tell us about what he does on Mother’s Day and how we can honour our mums and dads. And at the end of this video I’ve a few words to say to the children so don’t let them rush away.
(END Part 2)
Kid’s Video “Douglas Talks – Mother’s Day”
Kid’s Talk Summary
Hey boys and girls, I hope you enjoyed the video today. I hope you have been able to something nice for your mum already today. Mums are really special. They do so much for us every day. So don’t forget to give your mum a big hug and kiss and tell her how much you love her toady. And don’t forget to listen to her and to live in a way that will make her proud of you every day. If you ask your mum or dad they can download and print off a colouring page for you from the church Facebook page to help you remember today’s story. I hope you have a really good week in school and I hope to see you again next Sunday. Bye for now!
Introduction to Bible Reading
Today’s Lectionary Reading for mother’s day tells the story of a brief interaction between Jesus and his mother Mary as He neared the end of his life. Although very short it is packed with interesting insights about their relationship with each other. It will be read for us by Matthew Theron…
(End Part 3)
Bible Reading Video John 19 v 25-27 Matthew Theron
Matthew, thank you for reading for us so well this morning. I hope you and Josh are managing with your online schooling and that soon you’ll be able to be back in the classroom with all your friends.
Reflection “The God who sees and cares”
“Can he see us?” “Does he know we’re still here?” No one knows what conversation was shared between the 4 woman and the disciple whom Jesus loved, as they watched his naked body struggling to find its final few breaths.
It’s testimony to this ‘famous five’ that they were willing to embrace such personal danger to be associated publicly with a man the Roman Government thought was sufficiently dangerous to have him crucified.
Of the 4 women, we know nothing at all about Mary, the wife of Clopas.
Salome, Jesus’ aunt on his mother’s side, was married to Zebedee. She was the mother of James and John. At one point in the past, Jesus had rebuked her strongly for enquiring whether her two sons could be given top jobs in His new Kingdom. Jesus reminded her that such selfish ambition was the antithesis of His values and would only end in bitterness. It’s testimony to His gracious way of speaking, and her willingness to accept correction and still love, that she was beside Him in his greatest hour of need.
Then there was Mary, from Magdala. Jesus had rescued her literally from a life of hell, casting 7 demons from her body. Such was the transformation, her love for him would never die.
Mary, his mother, must have been deeply confused. In the eyes of the church and state Jesus had been branded a criminal. But he was her son and she loved him. It’s hard to imagine the depth of her grief as she watched him suffer.
The only man, was John, Jesus’ cousin. The bond between them was so special, the gospel writers describe him as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’.
At times like these, it’s never easy to know what to say. It’s hard to know what to say when your family member or closest friend lies dying. Hard to know what to say to them or to each other. But you are anxious in those final moments to know if they can sense that you are there. You certainly don’ want them to slip away with no one beside them. So I can imagine the words, “Can he see us?” “Does he know we’re still here?”
It seems a strange text to have in the Christian Calendar for today, mothering Sunday. But then, as these imaginary questions are answered (or ‘as the story unfolds’), it becomes clear why this is such a powerful text for this special day. Momentarily as his pain subsides and He manages a breath, Jesus somehow finds the energy and mental awareness to open his eyes and look down from the cross. He sees a little group of faithful women, and John. And then he sees his mother Mary. In that moment perhaps He recalls many events from the last 30 years. The meals Mary had set before him. The time she had bandaged his finger when he’d hit it with the hammer of grazed it with a chisel. The bedtime stories about Moses and David, Esther and Ruth. Dropping him off at the synagogue for school each day. Her prayerfulness, her kindness, her example. Of course, there were times she hadn’t understood him. They’d had words, like all mothers and sons. Once or twice he’d had to speak firmly to her when she stood in the way of Him doing His heavenly Father’s will. But through it all, she was his mother. The one who loved Him. And He loved her.
Yes, he could see them. Yes, he knew they were there! Looking towards Mary and John, he whispers, “Mum, here is your son, John here is your mother.”
Scholars tell us that even from a cross, a crucified man still had the right to make a last will and testament. Using terminology from Family law here Jesus legally places Mary under John’s protection and care and also puts John under hers.
Why he did not place Mary under the care of his brothers we can’t be certain. What we do know is they did not believe in him yet. Perhaps it was his concern for her faith in addition to her physical and emotional needs that persuaded him to place her in the care of his cousin.
What is staggering, is that even in the agony of the cross, and at the very moment when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, Jesus thinks about His mother and provides for her future needs.
Today we stop to rightly give thanks to God for our mothers and our families. In most circumstances they are precious gifts to us from God. We should value and care for them at all times. It doesn’t matter how busy we are with our own families or how important our position is within our job or the community. We must care for our families and especially our mothers.
Naturally this causes us to reflect on our lives and ask some questions- Do our mother and fathers and our own families feel loved and cared for? In what ways do we express that love and care, even in the midst of our current restrictions?
But of course, I’m aware that Mother’s Day isn’t easy for some people. There are lots of reasons why it’s a painful day for people. It brings back memories of a loved one who is no longer with us,….EXAMPLES…But as I’ve reflected this week, I’ve been drawn to also consider that for many mothers and women there is often the silent hurt that raises the same question that Mary might have been asking but for different reasons, “Can they see me? Do they even know that I’m here?”
Many of you who are mothers have given so much, so unselfishly, for so many years, that often there comes a point where you begin to feel that you are invisible.
In her book, ‘The Invisible Woman’, Nicole Johnson describes it like this,
“It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?" Obviously not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please." I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going ... she's going ... she's gone!”
You are like the people who built so many of the great European Cathedrals. You have given your whole life to a work that you will never see finished. You have made huge sacrifices and expect no credit. But it’s left you feeling Invisible and asking “Does anyone see, does anyone care?”
It is likely that no great cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree. What was it that kept those great architects and masons so dedicated to their task? A famous story provides the insight.
A rich man came to visit a great cathedral while it was being built. He saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it." The workman replied, "Because God sees."
When Jesus spoke to Mary she knew that He had seen. She knew he’d know she hadn’t deserted him in his final hour. In what he said, she knew He loved her to the end.
It’s so good to see that things are changing in society and women are starting to receive the fairness and the recognition that they deserve. Although, as the laws for maternity leave in our Doyle have shown recently, there is still some way to go. For all women and especially those of you who are mothers there will always be times when you feel invisible.
I want to encourage you from today’s story that God sees. If you listen carefully you will hear him whisper, "I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No button you've sewn, no lunchbox you’ve packed, no lift you’ve given or dinner you’ve cooked is too small
for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."
Nicole Johnson describes it like this-
“As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the
beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.”
I’m glad, despite its pain that we have mothers’ day for so often woman and mothers can feel invisible. It’s good that at least one day a year, the rest of us open our eyes and let you know, “We have seen. And we appreciate all that you do!”
May God help us all to show our gratitude to our mums and our wives today and to all women everyday. AMEN.
Introduction to Song
Over the years, there is a song that has meant a lot to me. It’s a song that’s full of honesty about the fact that sometimes life can just be really tough. But it’s also a song full of hope and that encourages us to keep on praising God, even in the midst of darkness. I think this is a really appropriate song for the times that we are living through. So join with me as we sing together, “Ten Thousand reasons.”
(End Part 4)
Song of Response “Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord)”
What fantastic words. I hope that has been a real encouragement to you. Let’s pray…
Prayers for others
Loving God, we thank you for this day – this day of remembering, rejoicing and responding. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
We thank you for our homes and all we associate with them – the joy of family life, the debt we owe to our parents and especially today the love of our mothers across the years. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
We thank you for the much wider family of which we are a part – the family of humankind, of our church fellowship in Arklow and of the church universal on earth and in heaven. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
We thank you for the love you show us – the same love a mother feels for her child, the same patience and understanding, the same concern and protectiveness. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
Loving God, grant your blessing upon all mothers and all families this day; upon the family of humankind the world over, upon the family of your church, here and everywhere. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
And grant your special care and support to all those deprived of a mother’s love, or whose dreams of motherhood have not been realized. We pray also for all those who have not yet come to know your love for themselves. Lord of all, hear our prayer.
Lord we thank you that attitudes to mothers and to all women in many parts of our world are changing for the better. But we recognize that there are still many places where this is not so and many instances where we too still need to make progress. So we pray that you will prosper every effort to highlight the value of all women and to ensure equality and fairness in every area of life and in every part of our world.
Take a moment now to pray for one or two people or one or two circumstances where you know God’s help is needed at this time….
All this we ask in the name of the one in whose image we have all been made. Amen.
It’s been a joy and privilege to share in worship with you this morning. Thanks for tuning in. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and found it to be encouraging. If you’re a mum may I wish you a very happy mother’s day.
I’ve still no further confirmation of when our church can reopen for services but as vaccines continue to roll out we hope it won’t be too long until we can meet together.
One piece of exciting news is that we will be leading worship on the RTE Sunday morning service on 28th of March, that’s Palm Sunday. That gives us all something to look forward to!
I’m conscious that many of us are weary and really struggling the longer the lockdown restrictions continue, so please do continue to keep in touch with one another and encourage one another.
Do join me again on Wednesday as we celebrate the legacy of St Patrick on his special day!
But for now, let me lead you in a Benediction after which I invite you as always, to say the grace together…
Let us leave this time of quiet contemplation rejoicing in our family on earth and our family the church. As the children of God let us take his love into our world that others may also rejoice and be part of his family….And…
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and for evermore, Amen.”
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