A reflection for Mothering Sunday:
Jesus said, ……How often have I longed to gather your children, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings; but you would not let me. Look! There is your temple, forsaken by God and laid waste. I tell you, you will not see me until the time when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Matthew 23: 37
Jesus wants to be like a mother to the people and to gather them together, to offer protection and comfort in a time of trouble. But he can’t. He is speaking, or the Gospel writer is writing, from a time when no-one can go to the Temple (the mother ‘church’) and he writes of a time of blessing to come when he will be reunited with his people. There could hardly be a more timely text for us for a Mothering Sunday when we cannot meet, and when our whole nation, the whole world, is going through such a difficult time.
My most immediate reaction to most problems is to get people together, to draw us close, to have something at church… But we can’t do that. At a time of great anxiety and change I want to be with those who are under most strain, but I can’t do that.. Most of our ways of being the church depend on gathering together. We even speak of ‘the gathered church’. For now, we must be the scattered church, the people of God in isolation sometimes, a people praying and longing for a time when life will be filled with the blessing of reunion.
Whatever we are going through now, the church is still the church and God is still loving us and all the world. God, as Jesus did, still wants to gather us and assure us that we are loved. It is going to take us a while to come to terms with what is happening and many of us will be feeling as we once did as children that we want ‘someone’ to make it right. For a while life is going to go on feeling and being somehow ‘wrong’. Even God our Father cannot rescue us from all that is going on. But we can know, and be assured, that God’s love is still with us and always will be.
And there are blessings to be found in all this; the countless acts of altruism and kindness, a new unity among our politicians (Brexit feels suddenly like a distant memory!), the renewed sense of what really matters to us, let alone that many of us will have now a much lower carbon footprint… and the earth might breathe a little.
May God bless us all each one. And, even if we are in isolation, through the gift of modern technology we can keep in touch. We cannot be gathered, but we can be loved. We cannot be together, but we need never feel alone. We cannot go to church to worship, but we can be the church. And one day, we shall celebrate a new dawn.
O God, who loves us with the deepest love,
protect us through this time.
Give us grace to endure,
humour to lighten the days,
friends to support us
and a faith to hold us firm, in Jesus’ name. Amen.