Loving Kindness – a meditation for when Mother’s Day is complicated

Lesley Shatwell writes:

I won’t now be leading this service on Sunday morning at St Mark’s, but I especially wanted to reach out to as many people as possible – particularly those who find Mother’s Day complicated.

As you read this, I imagine you playing a little bit of gentle music (my choice is Bach Double Violin Concerto, second movement – but please yourself!).  The main thing is to focus on yourself and God’s love for you as an individual.  God sees you as an individual, not “just a mother” or “just a child of a mother”.  God sees you as you in your wonderful individual uniqueness.

1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

A service of Loving Kindness

Matt 11:28-30
Jesus said: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Let us bring to Jesus all that which is troubling us today.

God welcomes you here this morning.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

I welcome you, knowing that you are all very brave.  Mother’s Day is complicated for so many people and for so many reasons.

And whatever your reason for being here this morning, know that God loves you.

Whatever anyone might say, whatever hurt and pain you carry, whatever sadness you may have caused another – GOD LOVES YOU

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Rom 8: 38-39
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.
May all above,
And those below,
Those around,
And within,
Seen and unseen
throughout the Universe,
without exception,
be well and free from harm.

May all in the six directions (north, south, east, west, up and down)
and at all points in the in-between without exception,
as far as space and time extend be safe and well.
May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness.
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow.
May all be free from whatever limits their realization of true happiness.
May they dwell in the Love, Compassion and Joy of God.
And may God hold us all in the golden light of loving kindness.

Preparation: – sit comfortably and rest your hands gently.  Allow your breathing to slow as you relax.

Bring your attention to yourself

May I be happy.
May I be healthy.
May I feel safe.
May I live my life with ease.

Bring your attention to someone you love, one you care deeply for

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Bring your attention to someone who cares deeply for you,

May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you feel safe.
May you live your life with ease.

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you

We are coming to the end of our meditation now, so gradually become aware of where you are, your weight in the chair and the world about you …

Imagine that we can say the grace together:

The grace of our lord Jesus Christ
and the love of God and
the fellowship of the holy spirit
be with us all
now and forever.

Thought for the Day

For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  Mark 8:35

 When I preach I usually preach on the Gospel set for the day, but today I feel called to preach on this passage.

This week has seen a remarkable transformation in our country, and in other countries around the world.  At the start of the week most things were happening pretty much as normal.  Then things changed rapidly.

On Monday Lesley and I felt ill, and have self diagnosed with Covid-19 (with current advice no one else is going to do so) and are now self isolating.

On Friday two of the boys came home from uni, so we will be self isolating for 14 days from then (unless the advice changes again).

By Friday most things were shut down.

And yet…

  • We read about young people partying because they have no reason to be scared of it (not strictly true – but perceptions matter) .
  • The Blitz Spirit is invoked, as though standing up to the virus is similar to standing up to bombing.
  • People with second homes away from the cities are going to stay there, where the risk of infection is perhaps lower, but perhaps the risk of overloading the NHS should the virus spread in those areas (the risk being higher now that lots of people from many different places are moving in).

What do all these have in common?  It is people looking at the situation from only one perspective.

My take on today’s reading is that Jesus is telling us that acting on our own selfish wants is not the way to live a fulfilling life.

It will depend on your definition of “the Gospel”, but I believe that the Good News that Jesus is calling us to is “Life in all its fulness“, and that this is achieved by working towards the Kingdom of God, which is working towards making this world the way that God wants it to be.

As a country and a world we have been becoming more and more insular: believing that we control our own destiny.  Death is something which is seen as unnatural for people under 70 (or perhaps older) and has become something we don’t talk about (perhaps we should – note the date of the article – factual information may be out of date).  Yet only a century ago the Spanish Flu killed between 17-50 million people; the two world wars killed about 20 million and 75 million respectively.  Before the creation of the NHS 6% of children were expected to die before they were 1.

For most of history we have known that life was precarious, and that we rely on each other.  We have also known that employment could be precarious, until the rise of the unions, and as their influence wanes we are discovering it again.

And yet this myth persists that we are in charge of our own destiny.  This myth leads us away from the Kingdom of God, where we care for each other.

John Donne wrote: No man is an island, and during this pandemic we seem to be rediscovering this, and rediscovering the Kingdom of God (to be clear, I am not saying that God sent the virus so that this would happen, but when things do happen God can find some good in them, however  bad they may be, as well as comforting those who are suffering).  Let us pray that that sense of the Kingdom of God lasts beyond the current pandemic.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay