Saturday, 29 March 2014
Sensing Lent 22: The Indiscriminate Sun
The annual Mothering Sunday Service angst draws on apace.
Tomorrow morning I'll be involved, tentatively, experientially, with the annual drawing together of the conflicting strands of spirituality, theology, psychology and liturgy which is the Church's attempt to straddle the ancient practice of returning to 'Mother Church' (with the attendant family gathering) and the modern supplanting of God, for mere blood ties - thanking mums 'for all they do for us' (which is, at worst, giving mum one day off the washing up, and at best, a large bunch of flowers with no work all day).
As mother and minister, the 'no work all day' thing isn't going to happen for me. Instead there'll be the slightly frazzled collision of priest and mum. The priestly/motherly 'me' will feel the need to portray God as a mother, the need to acknowledge others' sadness associated with perhaps having lost a mother, or not being a mother, or not being reconciled to or physically present with either one's mother or one's own children.
And that's before we consider the sorrows sometimes associated with being a mother, like those experienced by Mary the mother of Jesus, referred to in at least one of the lectionary readings tomorrow ('sorrow, like a sword, will pierce your own soul'). Oh, great. Add to all that the generation for whom Mothering Sunday is nothing to do with mums, but all to do with Church, who would want to police the use of language thereabouts; and the spiritual atmosphere will be interesting, to say the least.
And then there's the cultural gap between those brought up in the church (like me) for whom Mothering Sunday wouldn't be complete without those posies handed to you by your children in church, and those who will be setting off early in the car to be with their mothers and wouldn't dream of interrupting the day by a visit inside a church building, especially on the morning the clocks go forward, losing you an hour in bed. I have some sympathy.
The warm sun today reminded me of the verse 'he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good'. God is quite frustrating like that - absolutely no respecter of persons. So for all those people for whom tomorrow is solely about mums and nothing to do with Christianity, there'll be as much blessing as for those who see the two as intimately connected. Just like those who do want a God-angle, those who don't 'feel the need' will enjoy the day sitting down to eat with family, giving flowers and perfume, celebrating love and soaking up sunshine. And it will all be gift; the Giver hidden. Which is cause for a certain humility. The Church no longer owns Mother's Day.