Thoughts for 22nd March

From David Clitheroe

I thought the present crisis suspending church services was a disguised blessing to a preacher who always finds Mothering Sunday problematic; but now I have been asked to write this thought so I am not off the hook. Why problematic? Well firstly its origins have nothing to do with our mothers. Rather it was a Sunday when people returned to the church they were baptised in or to their local cathedral. It was a service to celebrate the pastoral concern of the church. Today we celebrate Mothers. This came about as children in service, particularly girls, were given a day to go home to see their parents and the tradition developed, as we do at Temple, of gathering posies to give to their mothers.  It is this aspect I also sometimes find problematic. Of course, mothers deserve celebration and recognition, particularly as the person who brought us into the world; but not all women in the congregation are mothers and not all mothers are universally loved, sometimes for good reason. This day can provoke a wide mix of remembrance and feeling and not just about mothers but parents in general.

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is unusual in that it is a whole chapter [Chpt 9] of John’s Gospel. It is John’s account of how Jesus’ disciples begin a train of events by asking whether a man born blind is blind because of his own sin or that of his father. Jesus says, ‘Neither” and heals him as a demonstration of the power God has given him. This leads to dispute with the Pharisees as it happened on a Sabbath and they put the healed man and his family through the mill in order to hold onto their fixed views of how things should be rather than acknowledging God breaking through into this man’s life. It concludes with Jesus seeking the man out and helping him see that he has been healed by the Son of God.

It is important to be open to God’s perspective. God’s work in the world is often not as we expect or would prefer it to be. Jesus knew what was in the blind man’s heart and experience and it was that which he responded to. He does the same with us. So, whatever ‘comes up’ for you on a day when we acknowledge parents and our experience of them know that Jesus will celebrate with you or weep with you and show us all how our discipleship shared with young people in particular can change the world.