Scripture for this Sunday:
Exodus 2.1-10; Psalm 127; Colossians 3.12-17; John 19.25b-27
We did something unusual on Mothering Sunday: we took a significant part of our worship to celebrate the life of a recently deceased lady who had been a devoted member of Santa Margarita, and we did so in the context of Mothering Sunday.
Mothering Sunday can be a tricky day to navigate: while wishing to uplift and give thanks for the gift of motherhood, there are those whose experience of mothers has been less than warm, and those who have been denied the gift of motherhood.
There is some history attached to this middle Sunday in Lent that causes it to be associated not only with motherhood, but with church as mother: during the 16th century, people returned to their mother church for a service with their families. So this Sunday can be an opportunity to celebrate the many ways in which the role of mother is exercised in the church.
And so we come to our recently departed friend. With no children of her own, she was a kind of maternal figure for more than 20 years in the family of faith at Santa Margarita. She laid down a large part of her life so that the church might flourish and grow – a parental role if ever there was one. Her talents and gifts were at the disposal of the church: hospitality, generosity, needlework … half the vestments and a third of the kneelers in the church were sewn by her. She served the church in a number of roles: Warden, PCC Member and Sacristan. Sacramentally she was a loving and devoted Disciple.
And she was not shy about telling the truth as she saw it, which is also a gift. As Jesus said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” There is liberation in setting aside platitudes and pretence in the interest of truth, although it might not always lead to popularity.
She certainly earned her eternal rest. In many ways, she stands as an icon not only of the re-forming of bonds that originated within the early church community, when families of origin were being fractured and fragmented by differences about faith, but also for those who offer themselves and their lives in generosity to the church family.
Whether we called her sister, mother-figure, or just friend, she represents what is best about mother church when we “clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,” – and love. We took the opportunity to remember with thanks someone who was a faithful and gifted supporter of Santa Margarita, who shared her talents with kindness, generosity and sincerity – one who demonstrated discipleship in the way that she gave of herself.
We gave thanks for her, and for all who have nurtured and supported us in our lives of faith, who remind us of the qualities of discipleship.