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Prayer for the Week – 9th March 2024

Prayer for the Week – 9th March 2024
March 9, 2024 Bronwen

This Sunday is Mothering Sunday, though often mixed up as Mother’s Day. The confusion often negates the true meaning of Mothering Sunday.

Whilst celebrations of motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks & Romans who held festivals in honour of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as Mothering Sunday. Once a major tradition in United Kingdom and some parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the 4th Sunday in Lent and was originally a time for people to return to their Mother Church, the main church where they lived, for a special service.

This was a time when many girls would be in service and would be allowed the afternoon off to return home.

Over time Mothering Sunday tradition shifted more into a holiday where children would present their mothers with flowers and tokens of appreciation. This tradition eventually merged with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s.

Interestingly the origins of Mother’s Day in America dates back to 19th century. In the years before the civil war, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start Mother’s Day Work Clubs to teach local women how to care for their children properly.

Lots of women over the years have promoted ‘Mother’s Day’ Julia Ward Howe in 1870 wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation – a call to action for mothers to unite in promoting world peace.

Anna Jarvis, the daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, successfully fought for Mother’s Day to become a national holiday in America honouring the sacrifices made by mothers. After gaining financial backing from a Philadelphia department store owner – John Wanamaker, she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. Anna had originally viewed Mother’s Day as a day of personal celebration between mothers and families, visiting their mothers and attending church services – once it became a national holiday it was not long before florists, card companies and others capitalised on its popularity.

Mums also come is different guises, for many of us our mums are those that birthed us, however some people are loved by step mums, mums who have adopted them, some of us are looked after and loved by Grandmas, Aunties, Carers and Dads who have to be both Mum & Dad.

Scripture Luke 1:46 – 55

This reading tells of the beautiful words of Mary as she responds to the extraordinary message, she has received announcing that she would give birth, via the power of God’s Spirit, to the Son of God. Mary responds to the extraordinary message in simple faith, humbly submitting herself to God’s will.

As a parent I have often wondered at Mary’s story, how much she really knew of what lay before her as a mother, protecting and nurturing her son.

I knew nothing, and I do mean nothing, of the true experience of parenting. Nurturing, guiding, teaching, refereeing and sometimes just plain crowd control, doesn’t come as naturally as we perhaps think it should. Children do not sit quietly; they often ask the most difficult of questions at the most inconvenient of times and believe it or not don’t always follow the plan! I learnt very quickly that what works for one child doesn’t necessarily work for another.

I have been extremely lucky. All three despite my nurturing lead independent lives. All have struggled at one time or another and it is so difficult to see your child struggle and not be able to help. There are times they have to figure it out for themselves. My mum was right, it is more difficult now they are older, the house is certainly so much quieter, though thanks to the wonderful invention of WhatsApp I can actually see them continue the sibling wars on line.

Mary’s Story is documented in small parts within the scriptures. There is obviously the nativity.

In Luke 2: 25 – 35 we hear the prophecy of Simeon. Simeon had been waiting eagerly for the arrival of the Messiah. When Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple as the law required Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God. Following his blessing of the child Simeon tells Mary ‘a sword will pierce your very soul’, a foretelling of how she may suffer through his suffering,

Continuing in Luke 2: 41 – 52 we read of the story of the young Jesus being left behind in the temple in Jerusalem. He wasn’t missed by his parents, as they assumed he was among their relatives within the group. When he didn’t appear they looked within the group, and then return to Jerusalem, searching for 3 days… 3 days what must they have been going through, and yet Jesus when found responded ‘why did your search, did you not know I would be in my Father’s house?’

The first story of the adult Jesus with his mother is regaled in John 2: 3 -5 at the Wedding at Cana, when the wine runs out Mary turns to Jesus for help. He rebukes his mother, saying his time had not yet come. However, as is a mother’s prerogative she ignored him, and told the servants to do whatever he tells you. The result being the first miracle revealing Jesus in his glory.

As Jesus continues on his ministry, Mark 3: 31 – 35 tells how Mary and his brothers try to speak to Jesus from outside the crowd. They sent word inside to let Jesus know they were there. Jesus responds with’ who is my mother? Who are my brothers?’ These are my mother and brothers, anyone who does god’s will is my brother and sister and mother’.

How would a mother feel, cast aside in this way? Or did Mary understand, from finding him in the temple aged 12, hearing him speak, the miracles she had seen and the messages from the angels predicting his birth, and how blessed she was to be chosen, did she understand they Jesus was using his mother as an analogy, extending the family of God to include all who follow and do God’s will?

And then, finally at the Crucifixion. Too difficult to comprehend, too hard to even try and imagine how unbearable this must have been. Mary stood at the cross, with others, watching and waiting for her son to die. Even if she had understood that this was to happen, that this was God’s will, she must have prayed many times for it not to be. John 19: 26 – 27 tells us that even on the cross Jesus ensures his mother’s welfare, giving the disciple he loved as her son, and Mary as his mother, protecting his mother and providing for her in the time to come.

Mary is the primary matriarchal figure of scriptures. Playing an essential role in Christ’s incarnation she not only gave birth to Saviour of mankind, she nurtured him, understood his ministry, following him even in times that would have broken her, standing at the end at the very foot of his cross.

Her faith does not waver, she enables him to be who he is,.

As Mary was chosen by God to be the mother of Christ, nurturing the Son of God, faithfully following him during his ministry and grieving for him at the foot of the Cross, we too are chosen to be the Children of God, nurturing His Words, showing the way for others to come to Christ, living our lives as Jesus would, being the light in this world so other may access the next.

Perhaps when our lives seem hard, and we stumble on the path, we can look to Mary and how her faith didn’t waiver, her simple, humble faith manifested in her beautiful words of our scripture.

Prayers for mothers and those as mothers, everywhere

For mothers and those as mothers…
Lord Jesus, you know well the blessings an earthly home can bring:
receive our thanks for all the love we have received in our homes,
especially from those who have nurtured us from our earliest years.
Hear our prayers for mothers and those who are as mothers everywhere,
that they may never lose heart nor ever be taken for granted,
but receive from their children & those in their care, the honour and love you showed to your mother, Mary, even as you were suffering on the cross.
Bless and keep them all, for your love’s sake.

For those in need
Remember, O Lord, all those in need:
people with no good food or proper clothes,
no home of their own, or no work to do;
those who have neither family nor friends
and no knowledge of your love.

Be with those whose experience of parenthood is not as they expected, and those who have not experienced loving, nurturing parents, abused, mistreated or neglected by the very people they loved the most.

We pray for those who are bereaved and grieving, feeling the pain of loss of either parent or child, for parents who never met their children or heard their cry.
Bless those who help them and bring us all to trust in you.

For those who live alone
God as parent,
we ask you to bless all who live alone,
those whose families are grown up and away from home,
and those who have outlived other members of their families and many of their friends:
Be with them to assure them of your love
and of their value to you every moment of their lives,
and enable them to rejoice in the fellowship of your Church on earth and in heaven;

For all families everywhere…

Loving God, we pray for families everywhere, knowing that all families look differently, some with Mum & Dad, some with one parent, some with two Mums, or two Dads, some with grandparents or relatives, some in adopted homes or living between more than one, families extended and families of just two…

Wherever the family lives in warm, cosy home, in war torn territory, in side streets or caravans, in tents of refugees, in journeys of boats or lorries, in love or in fear

We hold each child, each parent, each family unit to you Lord, bless each and give them as they need.

In the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ


A prayer which may be said together
Father in heaven, bless all mothers, those who are as mothers,
and those who look after us in our daily lives.
Make us grateful for their kindness
and thankful for their care.
Help us to respond to them in loving obedience,
following the example of Jesus, your Son, our Lord.

Ruth Dawson – MWiB Media Coordinator