Mothering Sunday 2020

Colossians 3:12-17 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised, NRSVA

12 As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord[a] has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[b] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.[c] 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

There’s an expression, he’s all dressed up but with
nowhere to go. That might apply to me today: here I
am dressed for Sunday worship and only my wife and I
are in the church building. And yet, for all of our
outward appearances, however smartly we dress on the
outside, what God sees is something much more
important: God sees what you could call our ‘inner
clothing’. Usually our family, too, is sharp enough to see
through any public display we make, and recognize that
our character’s what counts. I’ve been trying, like a lot
of clergy, not to feel self-conscious for live streams on
Facebook, and thankfully I haven’t managed to set
myself on fire, not yet anyway. It reminds me though
that even though people have been looking at me, it’s
been for a necessary purpose, that of leading worship
for the community, and the priest is merely a symbol of
the church, gathered and scattered across the world.
So we have to be ready to respond to the way things are
in the world, to be all dressed up, even if we’ve got
nowhere to go. In our New Testament reading today,
St Paul listed a few of the spiritual gifts which make up
what we could call our ‘spiritual clothes’, our Sunday
best as it were, our best for Mother’s Day. Paul writes:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe
yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility,
meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if
anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each
other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also
must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
We call the fourth Sunday in Lent, Mothering Sunday.
It’s a day for each of us to think about our mum,
whether she’s here or somewhere else, whether she’s
with us on earth or alive with Jesus in heaven. It’s a day
for saying thank you to Mum for all she’s done for us, by
giving her a card, or a bunch of flowers; by praying for
her; and by doing something special to please her. She’ll
be happy if we give her a present, or dress up to please
her. But she’ll be even more pleased if we put on our
best spiritual clothes. Because of the situation we find
ourselves in, it is time for all of us, everywhere to be
dressed for action.
So let’s list again the virtues St Paul says go to make up
our inner clothing:
• Clothe yourselves with compassion, he begins.
Compassion means ‘feeling with’ somebody; if you
understand what they’re feeling, you can treat them
compassionately.
• Kindness is gentleness; we like others to be kind to us,
so must treat them in the same way.
• Humility’s the opposite of pride; if you’re humble
you’re able to treat everyone with respect.
• Meekness is rather an off-putting word: it really means
having a soft and mild disposition, and willingly doing
what you’re asked; it’s a good character to develop on
Mothering Sunday.
• Patience with God, with other people, and with
yourself, is not being being in a hurry, but waiting for
things to develop in God’s good time. Take time for
prayer. We’re keen to fill up our days, even in a crisis.
It’s good to consider how this might be a spiritual
retreat, a time to remember what really matters most
in order for us to be fully alive.
• Bear with one another, writes St Paul, and, if anyone
has a complaint against another, forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must
forgive. It’s devastating if families nurse a grudge
against each other; we’ve all done wrong things, so we
must be tolerant of the mistakes of others. Since we
are going to be in close quarters with members of our
families, we should be really mindful of the quality of
our communication.
• Above all, St Paul finishes, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Fine clothes are no use if they’re falling off you; you
need a belt to hold them together. Fine deeds are
useless unless they’re done from a motive of love. We
owe everything to the love that our mothers showed
us when we were children; today we must show love
to mothers and other family members, and everyone
else we meet, even if we maintain a safe distance.
Show love and respect to others online – without
being sanctimonious. Then we shall not only look
good for Mothering Sunday; we’ll be good too.

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