During the suspension of Sunday services, I plan to post a reflection for each Sunday on the main reading of the day, and in the case of St George's this is the completion of our series on John's Gospel. Here is the one for Mothering Sunday:
‘When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.’ John 19:26-27
Friends, on this unusual Mothering Sunday, I want to start by turning our attention to the part of John’s gospel that we would have read if we were meeting together. It must have been heart breaking for Mary to see her child dying, and yet there she is at the foot of the cross; she will not be separated from her boy. Mary’s husband, Joseph, had most likely died, and so Mary would have been looked after by her children. But now Jesus is dying! What is going to happen to His mum? Even though Jesus must have been in terrible pain, He is still thinking about other people. Who is going to take care of Mary? We see from our reading that Jesus has a plan, as He hands over the welfare of Mary to John. John is one of the apostles, and the author of the Gospel we have been studying, and therefore, of course, a Christian. And in these beautiful verses we see Jesus bringing together these two disciples and making them in to family. Jesus, as He is dying, in effect, says to John: ‘I want you to be a son to my mum’. And to Mary: ‘I want you to be a mum to John’. Now that may seem lovely, but back then it would have been a little strange. Mary most likely had other members of her biological family who could have looked after her. John most probably already had a mother to look after. So why does Jesus tell John, one of His followers, to take care of His mum? And the answer is that Jesus believed that He was creating a new family - the Church; and that what unites this family is even stronger than what unites biological families. And what unites Christians, and makes them part of the Church, is what is going on in the scene we just read. Jesus is on the cross. Jesus is dying, so that everything which separates us from God, all our sins, all our mistakes, can be wiped away. Jesus is dying on the cross, so that we can be forgiven, and God can be our Father once again. And if I’ve been forgiven - and God is my Father - and if you’ve been forgiven - and God is your Father - then that makes us brothers and sisters! Now because of the cross we have a new family. We have a new Father, God Himself. We have a new Mother, the Church - represented in our reading by Mary. And we have new siblings; every other Christian, not just those in Chorley, or those who are alive now, but every Christian who has ever existed.
We live in strange times when much of our society, including our church services, are suspended. We cannot, at the moment, gather together as family. But just because we cannot gather together, does not mean that we are no longer family. In fact, it is even more important that we act together to care for our family, and as the Church in our parish to reach out and care for all those in need. So how do we do that? First, we should pray and read our bibles, keep ourselves in touch with our Heavenly Father. This Sunday has been designated as a National Day of Prayer. So pray, and ask God to remove this pandemic from our town, our nation, and our world, and ask God to bring comfort and help to those effected. Second, we should look outwards to those in need: maybe we can ring someone we know who is alone; maybe we can provide food for those who are isolated; maybe we can deliver this notice sheet to help those on their own to keep in touch with our church. Wherever you are, whether you are isolated or not, you can do something to help our church family, and indeed to help the wider community. This Mothering Sunday, remember that when Jesus died He made all those who follow Him members of the same family. As members of that family, as members of Christ’s Church, let us show our family likeness by praying for and serving those around us, throughout this difficult time and out the other side. Amen. (from Rev. Mike)