Wednesday 18 March 2020

   Mothering Sunday
 On Sunday next, we will be celebrating Mothering Sunday which falls on the fourth Sunday of Lent, this having been decreed in the 17th century when most people went to Church.  People would walk to Church, often to the one where they had been baptised, and some would carry flags and banners. Girls in domestic service would be given time off by their employers to visit their mothers, and some would bake simnel cakes as presents. 
In the United States President Woodrow Wilson passed an Act of Congress in May 1914, that the 2nd Sunday in May would be known as Mothers Day for the public expression of love and reverence for mothers.  This term has been claimed in the United Kingdom rather than our understanding which emphasises the religious significance.

So let us turn to the Bible
God having created the earth with all its elements and animals then created man.  He then saw that man was lonely and needed a companion.  God gave woman as man’s helper, someone who can be at man’s side who will give life more meaning, pleasure and support, physically and mentally, in a way another man could not, and men throughout the ages have appreciated and recognised this; someone to love and cherish.    God has now made two people, man and woman, and there is no deeper, natural and loving relationship than between a man and woman.
We must accept that God knows best, and when he wanted man to have a companion, He made a woman as the perfect answer, someone who could complement man in every way God wanted to supply what was lacking in man’s life, and together they could have children and create the ideal family. God planned the human heart to love, marry and have children, and the family is the bedrock of any nation.

When God made the world, He intended man/woman to have different characters to fulfil different functions in life, equal in every respect but not the same.   It took the 20th century in the so called name of progress and equality, to pull women down to make them like men, and some to be as the coarsest of men. 
Female politicians, especially in modern government have tried to turn life upside down, and in the false name of equality have made some women to adopt the worst practices of men. 

For 2000 years women had in many respects been superior to men, but in the cause of equality and feminism, have adopted not only the worst vices of men, but have excelled more so. 

An article in a newspaper once said that women were leaving Christianity for Islam because of the greater moral code.  Without denigrating the strict Islamic moral code, it is also a fact that no religion has greater respect for women than Christianity, and the Christian code is as moral as any; it is just Christians do not adopt it.  Jesus gave women a new place in human relations with a dignity that wherever Christianity has gone, women have been respected.

The emancipation of women began when a young Jewish girl was told she would be the mother of the Saviour of the world.  She would ever be the only woman to wear the red rose of maternity with the white rose of virginity.  Her son, our Lord, would later bestow on women a respect and dignity no man could challenge.  Ever since wherever Christianity has existed women have been respected and adored.

God intended women to be mothers and motherhood to be of the highest calling and endowed them with special gifts.     Motherhood is a special privilege and a sacred duty. Abraham Lincoln once remarked that no nation is greater than its mothers for they are the makers of men.  The Rabbis have a saying, ‘God can’t be everywhere so He made mothers.’   
A mother's love is special and unique, and God gave woman a special and caring nature for His purpose.  Today we have the ridiculous and offensive suggestion that children can be raised by two men after some woman, known or unknown, has provided the child by some means.  An American psychologist stated a child will never come to full development psychologically without a mother in the home.

Well those of us who fond memories of our mothers, however many years have passed since we were in their arms; will not forget as we acknowledge the love for our mothers and all they meant to us. To bear a child is a costly and sometimes very painful act, calling for endurance sometimes beyond the mother herself.  Mothering Sunday calls on us to remember it is the giving of oneself. 

The traditional family now is under sustained attack from politicians, socialites, and secularists. We face the ridiculous situation where it is decreed two men can raise children after some unknown woman provides the child by some sordid way. No longer is a wife a woman exclusively, nor a man exclusively a husband, due to the warped philosophies of the equality and diversity zealots.  Now it is supposed to be parents 1 and 2.
A mother’s presence in the home is essential, and there has never been a more urgent time when good mothers are needed.  I have worked in every social classes of society, but have never known a Jewish child get involved in anti-social behaviour or criminal activities.  I once asked a Rabbi why he thought this was so, and he told me it was due to the control the Jewish mama has over her family.  
When my two sons were growing up my then occupation required me to be away from the home for many long hours, and so much care fell upon my wife.  She had a photograph of me to show the boys the strange man who kept popping in and out, and told them that was their father.  It is to her credit that they both entered the Christian ministry after being youth leaders, succeeding each other at their local Church.  Today, they are successful Vicars at Churches of their own. where they have been a powerful influence in the Churches they have served, and having a prominent place in local government.
Mothers continue to care and worry for their children even when they reach adulthood, and stand by them no matter what they do and even when that is not deserved.  Salome the mother of James and John sought favour for them from Jesus, to whom she prayed that Jesus would show favour on her sons; I wonder how many mothers today pray for their sons to Jesus.

Spiritual matters should be of concern to mothers.  Promises are made at baptism services that children will be brought up in the fellowship of the Church, although few have ever any intention of honouring the promises made.  We need women who will lead their families back to more old style morality, decency, and purity.  Children are being brought up without any religious knowledge, knowing nothing about Jesus or Biblical characters, even in the homes of whatever class of home.   

 I would encourage every mother to teach their children the stories of Jesus, and other stories from the Bible; it will give them a sure foundation for life.  An idealism prevails as to how children should behave, but it is often in modern phraseology, ‘cool’ for a child to be sexually aware.  Explicit sex education is readily given, but there is a distinct aversion to giving Christian teaching.  Schools play little part in educating children in religion or conduct unless the school is a private one.

This day gives us the opportunity to remember Mary the mother of Jesus and think of how our Lord honoured motherhood when He showed concern for His mother when dying on the Cross. 
The Bible is full of stories of prominent mothers,
Eve who was the first mother and has been followed by great women who have decorated the pages of Scripture with honour.
Jochebed the mother of Moses who let an Egyptian princess bring up Moses rather than have him killed; and this morning I just want to look at the two who featured in our readings.
Sarah, Hannah, and Elizabeth, all who waited for a miracle.

Hagar, driven away and disowned.
Rebecca had to raise her children in another country
Rachel wept for her children,
Naomi and Ruth who rose above all the trials of life, and turned hard situations into good.
Lois and Eunice, ready to share the love of Christ with their children.
Hannah trusted God, and taught Samuel to worship God, rejoicing in the Lord and His salvation.  We dearly need mothers to day to teach their children to worship God, preferably by bringing them to Church.  But whether in Church or home, children need to be taught right from wrong, and how to stay right to know and learn from the great men and women of Scripture a way of life which will give them a strong foundation in life. I went with my mother well into my teenage years to Liverpool Cathedral each Sunday afternoon for Evensong, and it has lived with me all my life.

The Bible calls on older women who have an honoured place in society, to play a major part in guiding younger women in the bringing up of children from their years of experience.  We must have concern for women bringing up children in a world where all moral values are being eroded.  Theirs is a big responsibility, especially when the nation’s broadcasting system gives out such foul talk and explicit scenes that cause weaker minds to think that is the natural way of life.

In the United States, where they unashamedly do God, and most people have faith, young people are showing a real desire for Christianity. We import much from America; if only we could include Christianity.
If the mothers of this nation do not resist the onslaught of the perverse and aggressive secularist agenda, which is to destroy the family ideal, we face a bleak future    

Sometimes women are asked on television or radio what their occupation is, and often the reply comes, ‘only a housewife and mother’.  There is nothing only; such is a most honourable occupation.

At this point we ought to remember all those women who do not have children and may be feeling distress today when presents of chocolates and etc are being passed.  Some have chosen not to be mothers rather preferring to follow a career and contribute much to society.  Other women through physical or medical reasons cannot be mothers and our prayers must be for them. 

In our Old Testament reading we had the story of Hannah who hurt deeply because she desperately wanted to be a mother, suffered much because it was it was seen as something wrong for a woman not to have a child, and in her agony, she cried out to God.  He answered Hannah’s prayer.

To all those women who so dearly long to be mothers, and would undoubtedly be good mothers, remember Hannah and make you pleas to God.  The Bible states ‘(Jesus said)if you abide in  me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is for my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit’

We also grieve for mothers who have lost a child. Whilst we may cherish memories of our mothers some will not have such pleasant thoughts.
So to close my words to you this morning by asking you join in mind with me in this prayer.
Loving God, we thank you for our mothers, for all they meant, for the love they showed and care given; for their patience understanding and kindness  We thank you for the part they played in our lives and we ask that the Biblical mothers who we have thought of may be an encouragement for women everywhere  We pray for those for whom this is a difficult time, one of heartache other than celebration; for those who long to be a mothers yet have no children of their own’; for those whose children have failed or abandoned them.
May God bless all mothers and those longing to be.

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