This Sunday is Mothering Sunday in the UK, a significant date in our church calendar, just three weeks before Easter. It’s a day historically about the church as ‘mother’, although increasingly in recent years it’s merged with and now been overtaken by the much more secular notion of ‘Mothers’ Day’ (confusingly, celebrated on different dates elsewhere around the globe!)
Mothers – and ‘mothering’, no matter who provides it – everywhere are absolutely to be remembered and valued on this day – even more so perhaps this year in such an unprecedented time of uncertainty and concern. Many will not even be able to visit their mothers in the UK if they are elderly, as part of the self-isolation coronavirus pandemic precautions.
But as much as mothers deserve our attention on this day – so too do another sector of our society: our clergy. This Lent and Easter they are faced, for the first time ever, with no possibility of running church services or indeed any gatherings of people until further notice, at a time when the need has probably never been greater; in the UK this Sunday will be the first such Sunday. I have been amazed over the past week at how, yes, communities are valiantly rising to the challenge of supporting one another, but clergy at the heart of those communities, in often very under-sung yet over-stretched ways, are embracing new forms of communicating and worshipping virtually as never before. The live streams I have seen, from cathedrals down to tiny rural parishes, have been inspriring and uplifting (see the German CCN’s live stream of the Litany of Reconciliation here) – but often witty and entertaining too. All this pretty much on the hoof, dropped in at the deep end, in a rapidly changing situation.
In the Community of the Cross of Nails, just over half of our 250 partner organisations globally are churches and chaplaincies, but this applies to many many more than just those partners of ours. Clergy, everywhere, I salute you. Your jobs must be incredibly hard at this time. Thank you for everything you do and represent to your communities, the reconciling with the unknown and fearful that is going on daily, and your capacity to change rapidly with all that is unfolding.
As we worship at Coventry Cathedral today via live stream at 9.15am and midday for the Litany of Reconciliation, and at its pioneer ministry St Clare’s at the Cathedral via Zoom at midday, we will pray for and cherish all those working so hard for others at this time – and clergy not the least of those.
Alice Farnhill, CCN Project Officer