There is an ancient but little known tradition which has been celebrated for generations at precisely this time of year. No, I’m not talking about Lent, though it’s true Lent is ancient and much less well known than it used to be, even among Christians.
I’m talking about the tradition of ‘Mothering Sunday’.
Traditionally celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent, Mothering Sunday was and in some places still is celebrated as a bit of a break from the sombreness and self-denial of the rest of the season of Lent. Pink banners, wall hangings, vestments and even flowers would replace the Lenten purple in church buildings. Those who had been fasting during Lent would get to feast, and Christian worshippers would take time away from work to worship in their home parish (sometimes called their “mother church”), and while there, of course, spend time visiting their mothers. In the Middle Ages ‘Mothering Sunday’ was often the only time of year during which those serving as apprentices or working as ‘live-in’ servants were able to go home and visit their moms.
At St. Paul’s this Sunday we are going to celebrate Mothering Sunday by recognizing the mission and ministry of the Mother’s Union and by commissioning two new leaders in our local Mother’s Union branch.
The Mother’s Union is an international network made-up of predominantly Christian women who work together to support families around the world (www.themothersunion.org). It is a wonderful organization which has been around for 141 years, and in that time it has made a significant positive difference in the lives of countless families and communities, including our own.
Mothering Sunday may not be as popular a holiday as it once was, but the mission of helping families and communities to flourish remains as vital as ever. I hope you can join us as we partner in and celebrate this mission together.
Rev. David Turner+
St. Paul’s Anglican Church, Rector