THE service at Crediton Methodist Church on Mothering Sunday, March 10, was led by Pam Murphy.

Her theme was “Pure, unbounded love thou art”.

A crown of thorns and purple robe were laid at the Lenten Cross as a reminder of the pain and suffering and path of self-giving love Jesus took.

They remind us of the suffering of the world and all who are outcasts and face rejection.  Challenge us to make a difference through our actions and our prayers.

Pam spoke of Jochabed, a mother who wanted to protect her child from harm – as Pharoah had ordered all boy babies to be killed.

Jochabed let Moses be brought up by Pharoah’s daughter. She had received the gift of a baby boy and chose to let him go and, in so doing, Moses was able to fulfil the purpose God had for him to lead the Jewish nation out of captivity.

In Samuel 1 we heard about Hannah – a mother who kept her promise to God. Hannah had been childless and prayed fervently to God to be granted a son.

Hannah made a bargain with God – “If you give me a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life”.

Hannah had a baby boy she called Samuel. Once he was weaned Hannah took him to the temple and left him with Eli the priest, where he learned to serve God.

When he was still very young God called Samuel to be the first prophet after Moses and a leader of his people.

Hannah had received from God the much wanted gift of a child – and then chose to let him go – into the service of God.  

In the Gospel story we read of Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is now 12 years-old.

This is the first story about His life since He was presented in the temple when Simeon and Anna recognised Jesus as the one everyone was waiting for. 

We are told Jesus’s parents went to Jerusalem for Passover every year.

This year the 12 year-old steps out on His own. He doesn’t think to say anything to His parents – He just stayed behind in the temple.

Mary and Joseph didn’t realise He was missing until they had been on the road all day.

Then they rushed back to Jerusalem to search for Him for three days, during which time He had been  in the temple listening, asking questions and amazing the adults there with His understanding.

Look at Mary and Joseph’s response when they found Him – “why have you done this to us? We have been out of our minds looking for you.”

Jesus asks “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know that I would be in my Father’s house?”  Well No – they didn’t understand.   Jesus went home with them and was obedient to them. Mary treasured all these things in her heart.

Mary’s story is a bit similar to the Old Testament mothers’ stories.

She had received being Jesus’s mother as a gift from God but it hadn’t been one she had sought or expected. Yet, though she had so many amazing experiences – and she knew and accepted God had done an amazing thing in her life, still Mary had no real idea about how Jesus’s life would pan out.

No real idea of what Simeon meant “And a sword will pierce your own soul too”. So “she treasured all these things in her heart” until the time would come when she would be letting this firstborn son go – to do the work His Father in heaven had sent Him to do. 

Mary was Jesus’s mother. She would have loved and cared for Him, nurtured Him, taught and shown Him the right way to behave as one human being to another.

God has gifted us with the ability to love and care for others.  In Christ Jesus, that was shown to the utmost as He sacrificed His life so that everyone might have life in all its fullness, life that is not oppressed by past mistakes as we can receive God’s forgiveness.

In every generation and in all families love can abide. Love comes out of God’s love to us and that we share generously.

Some people do struggle to love – maybe they’ve never received love themselves.

But it is the God-given ideal that can nurture children into an adulthood that considers the needs of other people and cares for and respects them whatever their backgrounds or abilities.

We can give thanks to God that He has created us to be mothers and fathers – parents – and parent-like figures in the wider social groups that care for one another. 

We can celebrate Mothering Sunday for that unselfish giving – letting go love we can choose to show to others, that teaches us to show to one and all. It can often be sacrificial love that is fed by the unbounded love of God.

Let us receive God’s love with joy and rejoice in knowing we are also letting go of it – releasing it – to do its work in the world – because we cannot put constraints on the Father’s – it will always break the bounds.,

John Wesley wrote to Philothea Briggs in 1771 “Walk in love – as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. All is contained in humble, gentle, patient love.  Every right temper, and then all right words and actions, naturally branch out of love. In effect, you want nothing but this – to be filled with the faith that worketh by love”. 

All ladies in the congregation were given a small posy of flowers.

Bronwyn Nott