Mothering Sunday, Clare Heard, Sunday 11 March 2018 at St George's, Campden Hill

Mothering Sunday, Clare Heard, Sunday 11 March 2018 at St George's, Campden Hill

Happy Mothering Sunday everyone, has anyone done anything special this morning?
I am going to use 3 flowers to help us think about mothering Sunday and about love more generally.
The first flower is a Lily. Look at this first Lily – this is all closed up, it’s like someone with all their walls up, not letting anyone in, like someone without love.
Now what should happen to this Lily? It should open out and blossom. To being like this one – more delicate, less protected but much more beautiful.
This is what happens to Mary as she first says yes to God, when she sings her son of praise, (which we are singing today) when bears Jesus. She puts her trust in God and she receives God’s love and she loves and is loved by Jesus, and she blossoms, as a mother and a person.
This is also what happens to us – when we are loved and when we love others – we blossom, just like this Lily.
What does the lily need to do open up? – water and sunlight – and we as people need God’s forgiveness (to wash us clean from our sin), and his love, so we are able to grow and blossom.

Second flower - Rose – ouch. Why did I say ouch? Thorns. The rose reminds us that beauty, or love, and pain go together. It is impossible to really love without opening ourselves up to the possibility of being hurt.
Question – have you ever lost something you loved very much?
When Eleanor was a baby she was given a teddy. It became her favourite teddy. She slept with it every night and cuddled it whenever she was sad. And then, when she was 5, she left it on a bus. She was devastated and although we got her another teddy, it never really replaced the lost one.
Question - would it have been better to have never had it?
Or what about a pet that dies, or even a person you love? Would it be better not to have had them in your life at all? Never to have loved them?
Today’s gospel - Mary stands at the foot of the cross and watches her son suffer and die. Mothering can be painful. Loving can be painful.
Is it better to have loved and lost than never loved at all?
Mary teaches us that love is vulnerable, that it suffers, that it takes risks. If we didn’t love, or we couldn’t love, then those painful realities that upset our lives - arguments, sickness, loss, - all these would matter far less to us.
But we do love and so they hurt – a lot!
Mothering Sunday, placed so near to Holy Week, reminds us that any relationship without pain is likely to be a relationship without love.
In fact, if we love then we put ourselves in the very path of pain and suffering. To love is to put yourself at risk and your heart may sometimes be broken.
But we can’t wish it any other way, for we are made in the image of a God of love and love, real love, hurts.
But that isn’t the end of the story. Pain and death do not have the last word.

Last flower - Daffodils – reminds us of the season of? Spring. New Life. The season of baby chicks, ducklings and lambs. Jesus didn’t stay buried but rose again on Easter Day.
With hindsight, we know the cross is not the end – but rather the place of the flowering of new life. But that’s only with hindsight – at the time it would have been incredibly painful and confusing. And it can be very difficult to trust God when life is like that. To believe in his love.
The love of Jesus and the love of Mary, both teach us that the only sort of loving and the only sort of living worth having are those which will take risks, which will place themselves in the path of suffering.
If we want new life in our own lives and our relationships, if we want resurrection, then we must be prepared for the way of the Cross. Because the only way to resurrection is through the path of risk, pain and suffering.
But God does not ask us to go through the dark times alone. During that period of pain, as Mary stands at the foot of the cross, Jesus connects Mary and John, he creates a new bond of love.
Bound together by the need to give and receive love - this is a new family – not just actual mothers and children, but broader than that. Jesus asks us to love more than just our parents, our kids, but all Christians, in the church family.
As a church we are asked to love and support each other as families do, so that we are better able to share God’s love beyond these walls.
This is a big ask, it’s not always easy to love those within our immediate families, let alone those outside them.
But this is what the resurrection does – it brings down walls and opens up a whole new way of relating to one another which finds its origin and expression in the God whose very nature is love.
Luther said “we are not loved because we are attractive, we are attractive because we are loved”. If we love each other, if we love our world, we make it a more attractive, a more lovely, place.
So, this Mothering Sunday, let’s be thankful for all those whom we love and who love us. And let’s open our hearts to that love, and the love of God, even with all the risk this brings, so that we can blossom like these flowers and show the beauty of God’s love to the world.

Ref Neil Summers,  Vicar, St John the Divine

Holland Park Benefice