WHAT does ‘Mothering Sunday’ mean to you? Perhaps of posies and primroses, cards and cups of tea in bed lovingly brought by small, unsteady hands.
Less often perhaps do we think of the time between Christ’s birth and death, of Mary’s care for Him as a toddler, child, teenager and young adult and her hopes and fears for His future.
No doubt Mary was bombarded with advice from family, friends and neighbours on how to bring up children but she would not have had to endure today’s pressures of countless surveys and studies and government warnings, which can leave a new mother feeling inadequate and confused.
She would have had the loving and wise support of her husband Joseph and the knowledge that God was watching over her and her child.
There are organisations which help mothers in a friendly, supportive and non-threatening way. Many are church-based.
The Mothers’ Union, founded by Mary Sumner in 1876 in the Anglican tradition, provides one of the oldest and largest networks - with 3.6 million members around the world it aims ‘to share God’s love through the encouragement, strengthening and support of marriage and family life’.
Defying its old image of elderly ladies making tea for church fetes, the MU now includes men, divorced and single parents and those without children; its work encompasses running marriage and parenting classes, mother and toddler groups, crèches in prisons, Child Contact Centres, promoting Fair Trade, fighting human trafficking, helping asylum seekers, providing holidays and many more activities depending on local need.
Mothers’ Union members pray that they may be ‘united in prayer and worship, in love and service, and, in Jesus’ name, may reach out into the world as God’s hands’. These are aims which all Christians share.
AMC, St Alphege Church