The fourth Sunday of Lent is Mothering Sunday. The day has an interesting history , the origins are unclear but it became the custom for young people who worked in service i.e. as servants in big houses to be given time to visit their 'mother church' , in other words to worship with the community where they were born and to visit their parents and particularly their mothers. It was known as to go a - mothering and gradually became known as Mothering Sunday. They would often take a gift of a simnel cake which was an opportunity for young women to show off their cooking skills. A simnel cake is a rich fruit cake with a layer of marzipan through the middle, it was usually saved to eat at Easter as such richness would not have been permitted during Lent. Nowadays simnel cakes are usually made for Easter Day. The tradition of having a day to show appreciation for our mothers , to celebrate and give thanks for all they do has continued and I am glad - saying thank you is important and mothering can often feel like a thankless task. I appreciate the sacrifice, effort and commitment of my own mother and I appreciate being reminded to let her know!
There is sometimes a degree of bitterness vented over the celebration of Mothering Sunday and certainly public celebrations can be insensitive and thoughtless towards those for whom painful memories surface. It is important to recognise that not everyone has happy memories or a good relationship with their mothers and for some motherhood is equated with loss and grief. Somehow there needs to balance between the celebration of special women in our lives, be they mothers, grandmothers , godmothers or motherly women friends and tenderness towards families who hurt. The church has a responsibility to be a mother to those families.
'Repent then, and turn to God, so that your sins maybe wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord' Acts3:19
The fourth Sunday of Lent is also known as Refreshment Sunday or Laetare Sunday. The word Laetare means rejoice: it is a day for the relaxation of Lenten disciplines, to look forward to Easter, which is not far off now, and to enjoy the burgeoning spring which hints at the new life that is soon to come. How appropriate this seems to me , we all need refreshment , not just mothers , but mothers do, at times, especially need refreshment. And those mothers and would be mothers who feel pain, hurt and loss need, more than most , the refreshing touch of God's love and healing.
'A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed' Proverbs:11:25
The colour for Refreshment Sunday is pink, the colour of joy.
I am told that I am about to served the biggest breakfast I have ever had! My Mothering Sunday flowers came yesterday, aren't they lovely?.