Mothering Sunday is a day honouring mothers and mother churches, celebrated in the United Kingdom and Ireland on the fourth Sunday in Lent since the Middle Ages. On Mothering Sunday, Christians have historically visited their mother church and in the Middle Ages, this provided a day of respite from fasting halfway through the penitential season of Lent, with servants returning home to see their mothers as well. Nowadays, the day is highly commercial, providing one of the high points of the year for florists who provide 69% of all gifts given to mothers on this day!
It can, of course, be a very painful day for those who have lost their mothers, for those who have been unable to have children or whose children may have died and for those who have strained relationships with their mothers. As with so many occasions of celebration, there can be mixed feelings about this kind of day, ranging from feelings of obligation, frustration at commercialisation, and guilt (especially in these times when there are restrictions on travel and perhaps people are unable to visit their mothers.) Nonetheless, it is a time when for many, this provides an opportunity to express gratitude and thankfulness.
Having ‘set’ times to do this may seem odd to us, but people do seem to need the framework of a calendar to help us to pause, reflect and give thanks. We should, of course, be grateful to people at all times and should not require a set date to express our feelings to anyone, but it’s evident that for some people this is a helpful reminder. Jesus was well aware of our tendency to forget, which is why He urged us to share in Holy Communion, pausing in our busy lives to eat and drink in remembrance of Him. We can do this at any point in the day or week, but it’s good to gather together, as we do, on Sundays to focus deliberately on His death and resurrection and to remember the cost and scope of our salvation.