Monday, 11 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

The most primal relationship we ever have is with our mothers. At one level this is absolutely obvious.
Although conception takes two it is your mother who carries you, and feeds you for nine months, and it is your mother who brings you into this world, and even today it is mostly still our mothers who mostly takes the lion’s share of the feeding and rearing of us.
Having been physically connected for nine months -your life being completely dependent on your mother’s life - it seems natural (all other things being equal) that the bond with your mother is going to be one of the most important, if not the most important relationships of your entire life.
Before we get too dewy eyed we all know that not all mothers are perfect, and while the relationship will always be significant it may also be very difficult to manage.
But difficulties don’t alter the fact of the uniqueness and closeness of our relationship to our mothers.     
Now it is widely known that Jesus had some very harsh things to say about family ties, but what he said what he said talked of a radical extending of love that broke through the barriers of blood ties.
What Jesus was concerned about was that that very closeness of family ties didn’t become an exclusive bond that excludes all others. In the harsh things Jesus says concerning family ties the thrust of what he means is that those extremely close ties that we enjoy with our families should not be reserved exclusively for other members of our families but should be extended to include others outside of our blood relations.
There is no evidence in the New Testament for anything resembling “Christian family values” but there is  a sense that those close familial bonds of affection and service that are implicit should also be the way we relate to the wider human family. Rather than downplaying the best traits of normal  family  life of loyalty love and devotion Jesus advocates not loosening them but extending them.
This is the meaning of that poignant story when Jesus on the cross sees his mother standing there next to a young disciple called John and he tells them. “Woman here is your son” and then turning to the disciple says “Here is your mother”.
Spreading the love around, not keeping it for certain favoured inner circle is what Jesus wanted.
He encouraged us to think of God as a parent – in familial terms for a reason. For if God is our Father and mother, then we are all brothers and sisters – members of the same family, and as family members of the same family that means anyone here is due from me the same love and respect as my blood brother and sister.
Of course the analogy doesn’t stop there. Brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers don’t always get on. Sometimes families can be dysfunctional. That is exactly the same as in church as well but  even when we don’t get on, even when things get really bad – they are still “family” at the end of the day – and that is the same for all of our relationships in this model. Often we don’t like each other – but we are still commanded to love one another. And as I never tire of saying – Love is the absolute core of the Christian faith.  When all else fails – I believe in Love. And that is what we are celebrating here today.

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