Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mothering Sunday

So today is the day of mum's getting breakfast in bed, of lunches out, and of high sales of chocolates, perfumes and flowers in the days leading up to it. It is of course, Mothering Sunday.

I'm not sure how you get on with your mother (or ma, as we affectionately call ours), but I hope you have a good relationship with yours. For all the silliness, strangeness and laughs, my aul ma is still one of the best! after all, think of all they put up with over the years, and love us all the same. Mother's love is something very special indeed.

And yet, there is a love that surpasses it. No surprises, really, but that love is God's. This morning in Dollingstown I started the service with some words from Isaiah, where God addresses Israel: "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands." (Isaiah 49:15-16). Or as the NIV puts it, "Can a woman forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?"

Could it be possible that a mother, in the act of feeding, could forget the child she has? Even if that were possible, God will not forget us - never ever! And as a 'visual aid' as if needed, God says that he has 'engraved you on the palms of my hands' - or as the hymn 'Before the throne of God above' puts it, 'my name is written on his hands.' God will not forget you! Could this be a sort of foreshadowing of the cross, where the hands of Jesus were pierced for us? We read in John's Gospel that when Thomas doubted, Jesus showed him his hands and side, where the wounds remained. So if you're under the blood, then your name has been engraved on the hands of God, and he will never forget you.


Earlier I said about relationships with parents. You might be blessed with good parents and a great relationship with them, or maybe you haven't had such a good time with your parents. Maybe your mother or father was abusive, or cruel, or just never built you up with any encouragement, but were always critical. Perhaps even the words 'mother' or 'father' makes you uneasy. And to hear God described as Father? Well, that just makes you shudder completely - if God is like my earthly father, you say, then I don't want anything to do with him...

If you have suffered at the hands of your parents, then hear this word of God today: 'Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.' (Psalm 27:10). Even if those that brought you into the world reject you, and hate you, God will take you, and enfold you in his love.

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