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Sermon for Mothering Sunday, Mar 2020

by Michael Ford last modified 21 Mar, 2020 09:10 PM

'Beauty for Brokenness'.

Luke 2: 33 - 35

Think of a world without any flowers,
Think of a world without any trees,
Think of a sky without any sunshine,
Think of the air without any breeze.
We thank You, Lord,
for flowers and trees and sunshine,
We thank You, Lord,
and praise Your holy name.

I am not sure why, but this song popped into my mind this week as I pondered Mothering Sunday amidst all that was happening in our world around. Mothering Sunday is not only a day of thanksgiving for all those who care and have cared for us, but also a springtime celebration, where flowers are given, traditionally Simnel cakes are eaten and cards exchanged. For all at home, here is a virtual posy for you this year of daffodils from my garden.

Beauty for Brokenness- daffodils from Bishop Karen's own garden

It is difficult to think of a world without certain things, which is why this week has made us so anxious, as the supermarket shelves emptied and shops, pubs and restaurants began to close.

I suppose in a way we are all searching for, as Katie Melua sings, a 'Perfect World', or if not that, a happy world, or a comfortable world or even a contented world. Many a time have I been chastised when things go wrong, with the words ‘Life is never perfect’. And when our comfort, or happiness or the beauty of a Mothering Sunday is disrupted it is hard to maintain focus, or balance or even positivity.

In the musical world this is called dissonance, A harsh, disagreeable combination of sounds; discord. Or another definition which we can relate to today - a combination of tones contextually considered to suggest unrelieved tension and require resolution. Dissonance, disharmony and disruption is hard to live with.

This week the church calendar has been interesting, not only do we celebrate Mothering Sunday today with a reading about Mary, but we have also remembered Joseph, the father of Jesus, Thomas Cranmer and missionaries, Cuthbert and Patrick. Each of these demonstrating incredible faith in a God who walks with them through the unpredictabilities of life.

Our gospel reading for today goes to the heart of the matter.

After the presentation of Christ in the temple, from Luke’s gospel we hear of Mary and Joseph’s encounter with Simeon and Anna. First, Simeon proclaims that on seeing the Christ child he has witnessed God’s salvation, then we read: ‘And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’

Luke, early on in his gospel weaves the dark thread into what has been a bright tapestry of hopes, inspired songs and prophecy. Not surprisingly, Luke introduces the shadow side of Jesus’ saving work most beautifully. Simeon speaks so wonderfully of the child’s future that Mary and Joseph are amazed; and to Mary he speaks poetically of the price both she and her son must pay.

I am not sure how Mary will have taken that, celebrating the joy of her son’s birth, to be told that all will not be good news.

And in a way this is what we are having to grapple with at this time; that whilst knowing the joy of the Christian faith, the passion with which we can experience God through communal worship, the fun spent with our friends and family, the happiness of baptisms and weddings, we have to live with restrictions, separation, bad news and much dissonance.

There will be many emotions today in particular. Those able to have a family celebration, with cards and chocolates, breakfast in bed and a roast dinner; those who will be apart from mothers (My own mother will miss making Simnel cakes for the local church, however will enjoy speaking to her grand-daughters having mastered Facetime in a day); those who have been apart from mothers for a long time and have happy memories; those who have bad memories of Mum and those who find today hard because we happen not to have children.

It is important that we hold on to the fact that in all this, good and bad God cares, and God is. So, we can live our lives in the hope that he has set before us, enjoying his provision around us and trusting his promises.

It might be easy to think of a world at this time without some of the things which, up to now, have been part of it; but as that song goes it is harder to think of a world without some of the things which God provides, flowers and trees and sunshine, and that must cause us to give thanks.

And as for the dissonance, Jazz Musicians very creatively work with it. By blending the discordant notes, with a rhythmic pace, capturing the wildness and disruptive with the clarity of sound and other players interpretations they produce something hopeful, joyful and real.

Joseph, Mary, Cranmer, Patrick and Cuthbert lived their lives, which were far from easy, in the sure and certain hope of Jesus Christ, blessing others as they went. As we give thanks today for all those who have loved us and love us, still let us do the same. In this far from perfect world let us enjoy the beauty, and together with others, make a joyful noise unto the Lord.

However you are feeling, wherever you are, whoever you are with and whatever you do have a happy and hope filled Sunday.
I leave you with another song, some powerful words from Graham Kendrick:

Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in your suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can't speak

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain

Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise

1993 Make Way Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc)

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