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Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday is a lovely thanksgiving occasion but it does present a few problems when we reflect upon upon its origins and our contemporary practice. The changing structures of families, requires us to rethink our understanding of both the nature of ‘family’, and the role of mothers within it. That which once was relatively simple has become unexpectedly difficult.

For example, families are not what they were fifty, thirty or even ten years ago. Nor can we confidently assert that the Church family has been able to care for its members as well as we would like, or as well as God expects. So this day presents a good opportunity to remind ourselves what we should be about rather than simply, by thought or act, affirming a questionable model.

This model I take to be the nuclear family of mum, dad and 2.4 children. In many places this has been replaced by the one parent family as the norm. We may well worry about the children involved, and the stability of such an arrangement, but it is worth noting that there were a variety of practices in Biblical times too. In the Old testament, there are families with concubines, or a number of wives, as well as extended families, open to bringing in others and caring for them, as endorsed in the Levitical Law. What's more, in the New testament, there are examples of husbands leaving families for long periods of time to carry out the Lords work, and of people who have not married, or been widowed, doing great things for God.


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