4th Sunday of Lent
Mothering Sunday is always a challenge to preachers – it would be fine if we all had a Mother who was kind and loving and here, but sadly that is not always possible. But today we thank God for our Mothers, past and present, and for those who are our Mother figures, for our Mother Church and for God our Mother. Was that a sharp intake of breath I heard - do you think I have turned into a liberal heretic?
I hope to illustrate this morning that God our Father is God our Mother as well.
Lets start at the very beginning; it’s a very good place to start. Good morning. I know it's Mothering Sunday but instead of the usual sermon I want to talk to you about a frog. Don't worry - mothers will make an appearance later in the story! But for the moment it’s a frog.
Once upon a time there was a princess who lived in a great palace. One morning she was walking in the palace gardens with her pageboy. As they got near the lily pond, suddenly they saw in the grass in front of them a large green frog. Now the pageboy didn't like frogs: they looked slimy and wet, and you never knew which way they were going to jump. So he said: 'Quick, let's get a stick and kill it.'
But the princess, a wise young woman, stopped him. Instead she bent down and gently picked up the very surprised little frog. And to the pageboy's horror she well, you know the rest of the story.
Guess what happened next.
Do you know that is a wonder picture of what our Mothers do? We are sometimes naughty and dirty and not very loveable, but Mum’s they pick us up and kiss us anyway – why because they love us.
And who else does that?
Jesus – who takes us just as we are gives us a heavenly kiss and makes us clean and lovely once more. Not just once like the princess, but every time we come to him and say we are sorry- that is our Mother God in action.
Now a story for the big people.
Who is Harry Potter fan?
For those who don’t know Harry Potter, he is a skinny kid with glasses and unruly black hair, raised by emotionally abusive, rather disgusting Aunt Petunia and horrid Uncle Vernon Dursley.
When he was a baby Harry was attacked by the evil wizard Voldemort and he killed Harry’s parents. We learn much later in the series that Harry’s mother had given her life to save Harry.
Who knows what mark Baby Harry had after his miraculous escape?
A lightning shaped scar on his forehead.
And then when he was eleven Harry was rescued from Petunia and Vernon by the astounding news that he is a wizard and gets to go to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry now you will have to read the books for his adventures.
So what does Harry’s story illustrate? Once again we see the theme of sacrificial love, beginning with Harry’s Mother protecting him with her life from Voldemort. Jesus gave his life in sacrificial love for each one us, Then there is that lightning shaped scar on his forehead. We too have a special mark on our foreheads only we can’t see it. When we are Baptised the priest puts an invisible cross on our foreheads in water or oil. It marks us out – when God looks down from heaven he can see that we are one of his – If we trust in him, he has promised to walk with us in our lives – just like our Mothers.
So think about Mothers – what are they like?
Multi-tasking doesn’t come into it.
They have to be able to be a cook, cleaner, decorator, fashion designer, launderer, mathematician, psychologist, economist, paediatrician, geriatrician, plumber, lawyer, time and motion manager, taxi-driver, firstaider and so much more.
They love us come what may. Jesus knew that and Jesus loved his Mother. We see that in the gospel reading that when he was dying Jesus looked out for his Mother. He asked his best friend John to take care of her, and then he made sure that Mary his Mother knew that she had a new son to look after, for that’s what Mothers do.
They pick us up and kiss us when we least deserve it, They give us sacrificial love and protection, and they go on loving us even when we are grown up.
So if your Mum or your Dad (for Dads are pretty special too) is here today turn to them and tell them you love them, go on give them a hug. and for the many of us who don’t have our Mothers here this morning we turn to God and say thank you to God for them. Amen.