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Sermon for Mothering Sunday


You may know that the church is given,  Sunday by Sunday, a passage from the bible to read.have always wondered why we are given that story for Mothering Sunday. It's a story about a new Mum - Mary - who comes to the Temple with her beautiful, beloved new born baby to thank GodAnd they meet an ancient, wise, prayerful man called Simeon. And he tells Mary that this baby is going to do extraordinary things, and then he adds something else. 'A sword is going to pierce your heart.'

Hardly something for a Mothering Sunday card - today is meant to be about chocolates, breakfast in bed and a big thank you to Mum.

As is often the case, the bible shows us the truth.

Of course it’s right to thank our Mums for everything that she was, or for everything that she is. And we know that we’re not always very good at saying thank you, so it is good to have a particular day when we are encouraged to do it properly. 

To thank Mum for all the love

But being a Mum is hard. It’s hard to love someone without holding back. It was hard 2,000 years ago for Mary, Jesus’ Mum, and it’s hard today.

Being a Mum - or a Dad, or a Granny or anyone who commits themselves to loving another person in a whole hearted and unrestrained way - usually means suffering. It’s the nature of love - when we open ourselves up to another person without holding anything back, we open ourselves up to the possibility - the inevitability perhaps - of suffering.

The suffering that a parent goes through when your child is having a hard time, and you just can’t prevent it; the suffering of having to watch your child make mistakes and pay the price; the suffering when a child leaves home, or, much worse, your child dies or is taken from you; 

And I know that for some of you, that is your experience at the moment - of your heart being pierced. Or, we might say, your heart being broken. 

A very famous poet called Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a very famous poem in 1849. It’s very long and almost unreadable, but it includes these famous lines

I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; 

'Tis better to have loved and lost, Than never to have loved at all.

It is better, he says, to love someone - even though it ends up hurting you - than it is never to love. An open heart that risks being hurt is better than a closed up heart that never takes the risk.

Sometimes we think of love as being about being nice and kind. 

Those are important things, but love is about much, much more than being nice and kind.

And sometimes we think being a Christian is about being nice and kind. But being a Christian is about much, much more than being nice and kind.

Jesus said the most important thing about being his follower is to love. To love God and to love the people around you.  

And loving people means being ready to suffer. Because that's the risk you take when you love someone 

Not suffering in a martyr-ish way, or with through gritted teeth, or with silent resentment, but in the way that Mums try to do, with an open heart that stays true.

How do we do that? How do we allow our hearts to remain open? I only know one way that works.

We notice, again and again, that we are loved like that ourselves. We remember, again and again, that God loves us like that. We open our hands wide open, and give it all to Jesus, because he knows what it is to love, and to suffer the consequences. He knows what it means to have his heart pierced and broken. He’s been there, and he knows.

We can love - even when it hurts - because we were loved first. We can given, because we have received. 

So may we all, Mothers and Fathers, sons and daughters, have hearts that are ready to love, even if it means risking having your heart broken. 

Posted: 06/03/2016 at 18:26
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