Behold Thy Son

This sermon was not preached on 22nd March 2020 at St John the Evangelist, Bexley due to suspension of services throughout the Coronavirus Emergency:

Mothering Sunday
John 19:25b-27

“Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ 27 Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home”.

Traditionally, Mothering Sunday was a day when children who worked in service were allowed to go and see their families: A break from the tight regimes of Victorian Servitude, to spend time with the family: With those they love the most.

My parents were due to come down and visit us in the week after Easter; We actually thought we were a bit canny about it at first, with all the headlines about over seventies not being allowed to travel, my parents would have been travelling down to Bexley on my Dad’s Sixty Ninth birthday! But now things have ramped up: My family can’t visit – the ‘together time’ is cancelled:

And it’s not just us: Some of the saddest duties this week have involved postponing a Baptism, a Wedding Blessing and a Wedding, and even cancelling a funeral service after a daughter made the difficult decision to have her father directly cremated because it would not be wise for their friends and family to travel to the service.

It used to be on Mothering Sunday that children could go and see their families; walking and freedom and love: Not this year, not for so many of us who will not see our mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends today…

Today is not the Mothering Sunday any of us had hoped for, and as we move out of Lent this year it won’t be the Good Friday or Easter we would want either.

Christ looks down from the cross on a world of disarray and confusion; pain and sorrow surround his feet:

His own mother stands before him with the disciple whom He loves… He looks down and sees them in their grief – and in preparation for their loss he gives them something:

‘He said to His mother, ’Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ’Here is your mother.’’

We stand, as Our Lady and our patron stood, at the Place of the Skull: In disarray and confusion. We may be separated from those we love, we may feel devoid and separated from the things that give us purpose. We weep, we cry, we shout in fear and desperation, simply wanting this dark time to be over!

In our despair we come to the foot of the cross, and, at the heart of the maelstrom, we find there the grief of a mother and the sorrow of a friend: The grief is our’s, the sorrow we know only too well.

And Our Lord looks down on us too, and he makes that same gift.

The current circumstances may separate us from those we love: Even the neighbour we used to pass in the street, the work colleague, the people who went to the same café’s… But we still have each other… We still have community.

…Although having community when we can’t have Communion feels so painful…

The commandment to love our neighbour, is, at this time literal -it is also challenging, and it is also vital!

So we must keep seeking ways, safely and appropriately to extend our human concern to those around us, like John and Mary, they may not be our mother, they may not be our son, they may in so many senses have anything to do with us… But as one community we stand together at the foot of the Cross in turmoil, sorrow and fear…

‘He said to His mother, ’Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ’Here is your mother.’’

SMAAA Behold Thy Son

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