Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mothering Sunday

There was snow on the hills this morning ... and the bitterly cold air was a sharp reminder that winter is not yet gone.  However, the day brightened into beautiful sunshine and the evenings are lengthening nicely as well.
It was not an entirely stress-free start to the day ... but somehow the mini-disasters didn't manage to make me frantic!  When there's nothing that you can do to change anything ... there's no real point in becoming anxious.  That would simply add another problem to an already nuisance of a situation!
Inattention was the cause ... the computer asked me if I wanted to format the external hard drive and I assured it that I did.  Of course, if I'd been wider awake my answer would have been "no thanks" ... but ... the dice was cast and at the speed of light ... or almost as fast ... the hard drive was wiped clean!  Oops.
Computer literate friends have assured me that all is not lost for ever ... all I need is someone with the right skills and the data can be retrieved.  I do hope so!  But it isn't the end of the world if it can't be.  The photographs will be missed ... but a selection have been used for the Blog or on Facebook ... so there are still some around.  As for the sermons ... were they really worth keeping anyhow?!
So ... Mothering Sunday ... I had the delight of preaching in the Methodist Church and everyone there (including me!) received a lovely primula.
I had a piece on the Sunday Notice Sheet at Saint Nicholas' about the origin of the day and some information that I'd been given about the significance of tulips (which were given out in Saint Nicholas').  Tulips represent eternal love and the ones we used were purple to symbolize royalty and spirituality ... the members of the church are sons and daughters of the King of kings ... a royal priesthood called and loved and called to love others.
Why Mothering Sunday ... and how is it different from Mother's Day ... although in the UK the two have become one.

Mothering Sunday is the fourth Sunday of Lent. Although it's often called Mothers' Day it has no connection with the American festival of that name.  Traditionally, it was a day when children, mainly daughters, who had gone to work as domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother and family.  Today it is a day when children give presents, flowers, and home-made cards to their mothers.
Most Sundays in the year churchgoers worship at their nearest parish or 'daughter church'.  Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or 'mother' church once a year.  So each year in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their 'mother' church - the main church or Cathedral of the area.
Inevitably the return to the 'mother' church became an occasion for family reunions when children who were working away returned home. (It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old.)  And most historians think that it was the return to the 'Mother' church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.  As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.
Mothering Sunday was also known as Refreshment Sunday because the fasting rules for Lent were relaxed that day.  The food item specially associated with Mothering Sunday is the Simnel cake.  A Simnel cake is a fruit cake with two layers of almond paste, one on top and one in the middle.  The cake is made with 11 balls of marzipan icing on top representing the 11 disciples. (Judas is not included.) Traditionally, sugar violets would also be added.
The name Simnel probably comes from the Latin word simila which means a fine wheat flour usually used for baking a cake.  There's a legend that a man called Simon and his wife Nell argued over whether the cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled. In the end they did both, so the cake was named after both of them: SIM-NELL!
 If you received today's Notice Sheet ... you'll have read that piece already!  A friend put a comment on Facebook this morning that resonated with me.  He said,  "Today is not just about Mums but it is a celebration of the caring nature of true motherhood wherever it is to be found."  
Mothering Sunday affords the opportunity to remember the way our faith was nurtured and nourished in our "Mother Church" and to give thanks to God for that.
It's been a good day ... even if it did appear to begin badly!

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