There are five sermons, on various passage, and, at the end, some additional resources/prayers.


22/3/15 Mothering Sunday

John 19:25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Joe phones his mother on Mothering Sunday. 'Mum, how are you?' he asks.
'Not too good,' answers his mother, 'I've been very weak.'
Joe, concerned asks, 'Why are you so weak, mother?'
She says, 'Because I haven't eaten in 23 days'
Joe stammers, 'That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 23 days?' 
His mother replies, 'Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should phone.'

Sometimes relationships can be difficult, and Mothering Sunday may be difficult for some. This includes people whose mother's are no longer alive. Mothers who feel inadequate, worried, & fearful for their children. Mothers who’s children have died. People who did not have a good relationship with their mothers. People who live a long way from their mothers or whose families have broken up. And women who would like to have been or who would like to be mothers. We need to be aware of these things and support and pray for these people.

As we look at today's gospel on Mothering Sunday, I would like us to think about Jesus' mother, Mary. 

Mothers, have you every wished that your child was better behaved? You might have thought something along the lines of, “If they were better behaved it would make my life easier”. 

Mary had a perfect son, Jesus, and this caused her problems.
Motherhood was not easy for Mary. When Jesus was born she was young, inexperienced and ostracised because of his conception. Her baby was born far from home in difficult and dangerous surroundings. When she took her son to the temple, only days old, Simeon’s prophecy for his future was both ominous and exciting. He prophesied that a sword would pierce her soul. She then lived as a refugee in a foreign land because the King wanted to kill her child. Jesus was different as a child. At 12 year old he stopped behind in Jerusalem to discuss theology.
When he was older and his peers were getting married and having children, which was obligatory, Jesus did not. It could not have been easy for Mary to have Jesus being single and still living at home. His public ministry alienated him from his family as well as the religious leaders. Mary had to learn to put her own feelings to one side to support him in his mission. Finally, she suffered the worst thing that can happen to a mother, she had to watch her son die a long, painful, tortuous death. For a Jew there was no more shameful way to die than to be on a cross. Men were crucified naked, something the Jews found shameful. 

But Mary was there. Supporting her son, no doubt with many emotions and thoughts racing around. And there was Jesus.
Jesus was on the cross because humankind couldn't cope with God, so they resorted to violence, murder. Jesus endured the suffering of the cross and was watched by those who loved him. 

When we suffer we can concentrate on ourselves. Jesus didn't. Even in pain on the cross he is thinking of others. All those who he died for. But also two people in front of him. He asks Mary to adopt John as her son, and John to adopt Mary as his mother. They obeyed and John took Mary into his home. Through Jesus' death new relationships are created. 

God has adopted us to be his children and to be part of his new, world wide family. This week I read “The death of Christ is the moment of the birth of the church. Christ enters in to the reality of human suffering and there-by makes life and love possible”
(Through Us, with Us, in Us: Relational Theologies in the 21st Century by Lisa Isherwood p227) 

Jesus conquered sin, injustice, violence, hatred and death on the cross through love. This is the foundation upon which his family is built upon.
The church is a family in which we are all to care for one another. 

Indeed, there is a sense in which the family of the church is of far greater importance than those nuclear families in which we find ourselves as a result of an accident of birth. 

On this Mothering Sunday, when we thank our mothers for all that they have meant to us, let’s not forget that there is a wider family to which we belong. 

For some Mothering Sunday can be a sad day. If this is how you feel, let me remind you that there is a bigger and more important family to which you belong - a family in which we all can feel ourselves loved and affirmed. 

To the members of this new family Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13.34) 

Paul writing to the church at Corinth states that in the body of Christ all the members should have "the same concern [care] for one another. If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts suffer with it; if one part is praised, all the other parts
share its happiness" (1 Cor 12.25,26)
In this family we are called to care for one another. With our text in mind, let's not forget that this means that we are called to care, for the sick, the bereaved, the young, old and those in between. We are called to care for all, to reflect the love of God that has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5.5).

Lord Jesus, you know well the blessing an earthly home can bring: Receive our thanks for all the love we have received in our homes, especially from those who have nurtured us from our earliest years. Hear our prayers for mothers everywhere, that they may never lose heart nor ever be taken for granted, but receive from their children the honour and love you showed to your mother, Mary, even as you were suffering on the Cross. Bless and keep them all, for your love's sake. Amen



Mothering Sunday Family Service Luke 2:33-35

Introductory Talk

On front of service sheets have been asked to see how many words to do with mothers you can make from the letters in 'Mothering Sunday'. What words have we got ?

Can include : dinner, roast, iron, dig, stare, ruin a story, moan, nag, rage, get mad, naughty one ! Others ones are :

Hugs. Most mums are good at hugs. When we feel are hurting, or feel sad, or rejected a hug can tell us how much we are loved and accepted.

Grins. Mums are able to make their children happy by grinning at them. Melanie will sometimes grin at Chloe who, although she is only four months old will give a large grin back again.

Doing. Mums spend lots of time doing things. I know this from personal experience because when Melanie was in hospital around the time of Chloe's birth I had to do the washing, ironing, cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, shopping, helping Joshua with homework and so on. Sometimes children can help their mums, and dads by doing things with them, which is great. Joshua loves to help Melanie with baking cakes.

Strength. Mums need and show a lot of strength while their children are growing up.

Nurse. Mums sometimes have to take upon the role of a nurse. To decide if their children really are sick enough to miss school and to help them by keeping them warm and giving doses of Calpol !

In a few moments we will look at some of the things that Mary, the mother of Jesus experienced...

Main Talk

Luke 2:33 The child's father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: "This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Still using the letters from 'Mothering Sunday' we will look at four things that Simeon said would happen to Jesus.

Rise. Jesus would, verse 34, cause the falling and rising of many in Israel,

In his ministry Jesus would show that those who thought that they were religious and important were not part of God's people. Jesus came and mixed with people who were irreligious and considered unimportant. He enabled such people to be accepted by God and showed how precious they were. This is still true today. Jesus will accept us as we are because everyone is special to God.

Hated. Jesus was hated by the religious leaders of the day who he denounced. This is what Simeon was talking about in verse 34, to be a sign that will be spoken against,

No parent likes the thought that their child will be unpopular, but sometimes people have to stand up for what is right. Mary always supported Jesus, even when he endured opposition.

Hearts. 35 so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed.

By his life and teaching Jesus reveals what people are really like. Whether they are true followers of God or not.

Jesus came to bring forgiveness to those who follow him. It is by worshipping Jesus and obeying his teaching that we show that we have genuinely embraced his forgiveness.

Hurts; Misery; Agony; Anguish;

"And a sword will pierce your own soul too."

Mary had just been through the stigma of being unmarried and pregnant. She had gone through the pain of childbirth without pethadine, gas and air, or an epidural. A few days later she was being told that she would have to go through more pain.

No parent expects to bury their own child. It seems to go against the natural order of what you might expect. Unfortunately I have had to conduct such funerals at times.

Think of how difficult it would have been for Mary to see her son unjustly executed in a barbaric, humiliating way on the cross.

Of course, three days later she would have been overjoyed to learn that Jesus was alive and that her son had conquered sin and death and has opened the way to God for everyone.

Jesus went from death to being risen.

So on this Mothering Sunday let us thank God for our mothers. Not just what they have done for us but who they are.

Let us remember too that Mary is an model not just of motherhood but of Christian willingness to undergo suffering to further God's purpose. We can learn from her example of submission to God's will and seek to imitate this.

      'All Age' Talk : John 19:25-27

True or False Game:

Use children, and others ?, out front with 'T' and 'F' cards

1) Mother's Day was invented after Christmas and before Easter by a Greetings Card Manufacturer in the early 1900's to sell more cards.

False. Mother's Day celebrations date back at least as far as ancient Greece, where worshipers observed a spring day in honour of Rhea, the Mother of the gods.

Since the 17th century in this country, Christians celebrated "Mothering Sunday," the fourth Sunday in Lent, to honour the Virgin Mary and other faithful Mothers. In those days servants were encouraged to take the day off to go home and spend the day with their mums A special cake, called the mothering cake, was often brought along to provide a festive touch.

In 1914 Woodrow Wilson, the U.S. President declared the second Sunday of May to be the official Mother's Day. Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia and Belgium now celebrate Mother's Day on the same day.

2) The longest recorded interval between a woman having children is 41 years.

True. Elizabeth Ann Buttle of Cwmann, Camarthenshire, gave birth to Belinda on 19th May 1956 and Joseph on 20th November 1997. She was then aged 60 and was probably the only woman at the local post office to collect a pension and family allowance at the same time !

3) The chick of a Western gull pecks its mother's red bill spot to show that it is hungry. The mother then flies off to get insects for her young.

False. The mother passes food from her own stomach to the mouth of her offspring.

4) The highest number of children born to one mother is 69.

True. Mrs Feodor Vassilyev of Russia was pregnant 27 times between 1725 and 1765. She had 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and four sets of quadruplets ( yes it does add up ! ). Only two of the children died in infancy. ( These were caused by the little one in the bed telling the others to roll over ! )

5) After they have given birth alligator and crocodile mothers put their newly-born offspring into their mouths to give them warmth.

False. Alligators and crocodiles lay eggs ! The mothers cover their buried clutches of eggs with vegetation that radiates heat as it rots, keeping nest temperatures within the right limits.

6) As they travel to make their young, the colour and shape of the head of the female sockeye salmon changes so it cannot eat.

True, they literally giving up their lives so that their eggs have a chance to mature. In fact, the mothers' spent bodies actually become part of a food chain that later benefits their developing young.

Tell volunteers to return to their seats


First of all we discovered that there are at least two mother's days in the world. It is great to show our mothers how much we appreciate them by telling them sending them a card, and giving them a gift. But, of course, we can do that every day, and every day should be mothers', and indeed fathers' day. The fifth commandment tells children to 'honour your father and mother'.

We heard about the woman who had one child when she was eighteen or nineteen, and another one forty one years later when she was sixty. This reminds us that there are mothers of all ages, and whether their children are infants, or forty one, or older, being a mother is a God-given vocation for life. Just because their children reach eighteen years old, doesn't mean that a mother fails to care, love or be concerned about her offspring. We see this in the life of Jesus' mother, Mary...

John 19: 25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27 and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Find out who, in the congregation came from a large family, i.e. who had the most brothers and sisters.

Imagine having 68 brothers and sisters. You'd have a job remembering all their names, especially if any of the twins were identical. Perhaps they had name tags !

Some mothers have one or two children, some have a number, but many women who want to have children are unable to. We need to remember that Mothering Sunday can be a painful time for many people. Not only for those unable to have children, but also: those who have had a miscarriage; those whose children have died; those who are separated from their mothers by death, or distance, or a bad relationship; and those whose mothers abused or abandoned them.

There are no formal lessons in how to be a parent, and all of us parents make mistakes. But there is forgiveness available through Jesus, and, as Christians who have been forgiven, we are called to forgive others. This is why we pray 'Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us' in the Lord's Prayer.

We learned how the Western Gull mother gives her own food to her young and the mother sockeye salmon gives her very life for her young. This reminds us that there are so many sacrifices that mothers make. They give their time, energy, love, sleep, freedom, finances, perhaps their careers and so on.

I remember an incident from our former church in Derby. We used to run 'Enquirers Groups' for people wanting to find out more about the Christian faith. In the first meeting we would talk about the course and invite people to introduce themselves. So, people would say their name, where they lived, what their jobs were etc. One lady said, my name is Carol and I don't do anything. When we questioned her it turned our she had six children at the time ! The idea that anyone with so many children could do nothing is laughable ( and we did ! ), but behind her comment was the wrong thought that raising children was not worthwhile or inferior to paid employment. To be a mother is a wonderful gift and an immense responsibility.

Today, we need to do all that we can to support mothers, and the Mothers' Union is one organisation dedicated to this.

We can also thank God for his gift of our mothers.

And those who are mothers can ask for God's help as they fulfil this role, and pray that their children will know Jesus and follow his ways.

Father God,

On this Mothering Sunday we thank you for our mums. We pray for your strength and guidance for mothers everywhere, and ask that we would all fulfil your calling to love and serve one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord, in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

      'All Age' Talk : Ephesians 6:1-4

Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honour your father and mother" - which is the first commandment with a promise - 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.


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