Mothering Sunday (the Fourth Sunday of Lent) has to do with the local church community in which you were baptised being your ‘mother church’—not in a gendered sense, as a community displaying attributes traditionally considered feminine; but, rather, in the sense that we use ‘mother tongue’ to refer to our first, childhood, language.
Our mother church is where we learnt our mother tongue of Christian faith.
I have been a Christian all my life. One interesting observation of those who have identified as Christian for any such length of time is that they have become bilingual or even multilingual. That is to say, our mother church can only take us so far, at which point we either look for and find the resources with which to make sense of the world beyond the Church—leaving church behind, though it remains part of our history—or, by necessity, looking for these things within a different part of the Church. For example, growing up Evangelical but later gravitating towards Anglo-Catholic; or Baptist, but becoming Anglican.
However fluent we may become in the subsequent language or languages by which we express our faith; however many years we may live, very happily, in a foreign land; we will appreciate the community that first enabled us to articulate faith. Returning for a visit, we will feel that we have come home—even if doing so has mixed emotions; even if doing so reminds us why we left home in the first place.
That, then, conveys something of the sense of Mothering Sunday. A day to give thanks for a community we may have left behind years ago.
I never worshipped in the church where I was baptised, when my parents were home on furlough from the mission-field of Asia. But that mother church had sent them out, supported us financially, and prayed for us. Members of that church prayed for me every day of their lives, long after we returned from the Philippines, long after I had left home. My dialect will sound very different from theirs; my language, even. But this day I give thanks for them.
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