Today I chose the following reading (sometimes the lectionary allows a choice):
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
It is a reading that I have tended to shy away from in the past because it felt to me as though it was a little disturbing (given that the alternative is the crucifixion what was I thinking?).
One of the OT options was Exodus 2:1-10, which tells the story of Moses very early life.
This year what struck me about both was the roller coaster nature of motherhood. In one “the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him” one moment, and then being told “and a sword will pierce your own soul”. In the case of Moses the roller coaster was even more extreme. At his birth the joy of giving birth to a son mingles with the fear that he will be killed by the Egyptians. At 3 months old the sorrow of abandoning him to the river mingled with the hope that this way he might survive. Then the unexpected joy of becoming wet nurse to your own child. And at 18 losing him again.
Two thoughts struck me about all this:
The first is that if we love we are doomed to suffer (not my original thought!) – I suspect that most parents know this – and therefore that Mothering Sunday, a day which has come to represent the love of a Mother, must also represent the acceptance of suffering.
The second that there is a roller coaster, and (barring death) we do not know where we are on the roller coaster (which reminds me of this story: https://www.the-benefits-of-positive-thinking.com/positive-taoist-story.html).