Saturday, 21 March 2020

Mothering Sunday 2020 - Online service from St Finian's Church of Ireland, Newcastle Co. Dublin



Praise God who loves us. Praise God who cares.

We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have loved and laughed and laboured as they cared for their children. Blessed be God for ever.
We praise you, our God, for all mothers who have wept in sorrow and joy for their children. Blessed be God for ever.
We praise you, our God, for Jesus, born of a woman and nurtured in her love, and for Mary, a reminder of your patient, waiting love. Blessed be God for ever.

SENTENCE OF SCRIPTURE   As a mother comforts a child so will I comfort you, says the Lord.
                                                                                                                     Isaiah 66:13

INTRODUCTION: We thank God for mothers and carers around the world. It takes a very special love to care for a family. Today we’ll celebrate that love and thank God for his own perfect love for us all.
We’re not all mothers ourselves but we all have a mother, whether or not they are still with us, and we are all children of God. He is our loving Father but is also the one who remembers and comforts us as a mother comforts her child, and draws us close as a hen protects her chicks.

Dear Jesus,
We thank you for mothers and carers everywhere,
and for the special love they have for their children.
We thank you Jesus for your special care and comfort
and the perfect love you have for us all.
Help us all to show your love to those who care for us,
and to the people that we meet in our lives.  Amen.

We call to mind our sin, our failure to value the love of others and our failure to love as Christ has loved us.
Silence for reflection
Your love gives us life from the moment of conception. We fail to live as your children. 
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
You call us to do good.
We seek our own good. 
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy.
You hear us when we cry for help.
We ignore the cries of others. 
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

May the Father of all mercies cleanse us from our sins, and restore us in his image to the praise and glory of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Hymn of Praise: CH712 “Tell out, my soul”
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord:
unnumbered blessings, give my spirit voice;
tender to me the promise of his word;
in God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his name:
make known his might, the deeds his arm has done;
his mercy sure, from age to age to same;
his holy name, the Lord, the Mighty One.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of his might:
powers and dominions lay their glory by;
proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
the hungry fed, the humble lifted high.
Tell out, my soul, the glories of his word:
firm is his promise, and his mercy sure.
Tell out, my soul, the greatness of the Lord
to children’s children and for evermore.
Timothy Dudley–Smith (b. 1926) based on the Canticle ‘Magnificat’ (Luke 1: 46–55)

God of compassion, whose Son Jesus Christ, the child of Mary, shared the life of a home in Nazareth, and on the cross drew the whole human family to himself: Strengthen us in our daily living that in joy and in sorrow we may know the power of your presence to bind together and to heal; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Ministry of the Word

The First Reading: 1 Samuel 1: 20–28

So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I asked the Lord for him.’
When her husband Elkanah went up with all his family to offer the annual sacrifice to the Lord and to fulfil his vow, Hannah did not go. She said to her husband, ‘After the boy is weaned, I will take him and present him before the Lord, and he will live there always.’
‘Do what seems best to you,’ her husband Elkanah told her. ‘Stay here until you have weaned him; only may the Lord make good his word.’ So the woman stayed at home and nursed her son until she had weaned him.
After he was weaned, she took the boy with her, young as he was, along with a three–year–old bull, an ephah of flour and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh. When the bull had been sacrificed, they brought the boy to Eli, and she said to him, ‘Pardon me, my lord. As surely as you live, I am the woman who stood here beside you praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be given over to the Lord.’ And he worshipped the Lord there.

The Psalm:  Psalm 127: 1–4
1 Unless the Lord builds the house,• those who build it labour in vain.
2 Unless the Lord keeps the city,• the guard keeps watch in vain.
3 It is in vain that you hasten to rise up early go so late to rest, eating the bread of toil,• for he gives his beloved sleep. 4 Children are a heritage from the Lord• and the fruit of the womb is his gift.


The Second Reading: Colossians 3: 12–17
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

HymnCH517 “Brother, sister, let me serve you”
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Brother, sister, let me serve you,
let me be as Christ to you.
Pray that I may have the grace to
let you be my servant, too.
We are pilgrims on a journey,
and companions on the road;
we are here to help each other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ–light for you
in the night–time of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.
I will weep when you are weeping;
when you laugh I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
till we’ve seen this journey through.
When we sing to God in heaven
we shall find such harmony,
born of all we’ve known together
of Christ’s love and agony.
Richard Gillard (b. 1953)

The Gospel: John 19: 25–27Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing near by, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.


Greetings again from St. Finian’s Church of  Ireland in Newcastle Co. Dublin. It is by far the smallest of the churches in this parish which also includes Christ Church Celbridge and Straffan Church, but it is also the most ancient dating to about 1400 with the adjoining tower dating to about 1200. There were previous buildings on this site dating back to early Christian times and there is a granite cross in the graveyard which dates back to the 7th century and so the church could quite reasonably be referred to as the Mother Church of our parish.

How appropriate then on this Mothering Sunday that we as a parish focus on this place for our shared worship in these unsettling times that we find ourselves in.
The origins of this Sunday are in the 16th century when people annually returned to their mother church for a service in either the church where they were baptized, or the local parish church, or the nearest cathedral. In time Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that entire families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented from doing so by conflicting working hours.

Children and young people who were "in service" (as household servants) were given a day off on that day so they could visit their families and mother church. The children often picked wildflowers along the way either to place in the church or to give to their mothers. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.

And so it is a day to be together with loved ones and to return to our roots but at the moment that is not possible for a lot of people and today is quite poignant for many.
Not just those who may have lost their mothers in recent time but also those who have to be separate from their mothers and grandmothers and indeed fathers and grandfathers in order to protect those whom they love from the Coronavirus.

I spoke to a man this weekend, a grandfather who told me how he now meets his son in a supermarket carpark to collect the shopping that his son had done for him  - they keep their distance from one another and his grandchildren wave out of the son’s car at their grandfather and he waves back and wonders how long it will be before he can hold them and hug them again.
It is ironic that on this Mothering Sunday the best thing we can do for our loved ones is to distance ourselves from them and to stay away from church.
But thankfully we do live in a digital age and we are finding new ways to be present to each other and to be Church even when we cannot share the same physical space. I can honestly say that I have experienced a level of fellowship, friendship and altruism in the past week greater than I have ever experienced before, either in church or in the wider community.

The readings chosen for today reflect the values of mothering and motherhood – In the lesson from 1st Samuel we see the sacrificial love of Hannah in presenting her son Samuel to the Lord.  There are many people making sacrifices today for not only their loved ones but also total strangers – there are people on the front line in fighting this virus who themselves are in the at risk category and yet they keep on giving of themselves, and many as we see in Italy and elsewhere have paid the ultimate price.
In the Epistle from Colossians 3 we hear of the attributes required of God’s chosen people – compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and love. 

I have seen those attributes in spades since this crisis began – it reassures me of the basic goodness of humanity reflected in the countless offers from within our community to reach out to our more vulnerable members and protect them by running errands and delivering groceries and medication etc as required. Some offered to write to those who are alone, or children to send their pictures and drawings or to give them a phone call to let them know that they are not forgotten.
There is a real sense of that body of Christ referred to in the epistle – as members of the one body you were called to peace and so many people are helping to bring peace to troubled hearts.
And the Gospel – that poignant passage at the foot of the Cross where Jesus declares to his mother and the beloved disciple “Woman – here is your son, and to the disciple, Here is your mother” and we are told that from that time on the disciple took her into his home.
There is a lot of this adoptive mothering going on at the moment where as Church and community we are reaching out to one another with the values that are traditionally associated with mothering and they are not unique to the female sex.
Compassion, kindness and generosity are in abundance as we rediscover a truth that has always been and that is that we are all of us (not just the over 70s or those with medical conditions ) we are all of us vulnerable human beings who rely on and need each other and we are all loved by a God who as Matthew 23 v37 states: How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings
This time will pass as other times of trial that this building has witnessed have passed, wars, famines, plagues and disasters and it is still here and the people of God are still here – Why? Because of Love – The love that God has for us and the love that we are showing towards one another at this difficult time. We are the Body of Christ and united with Christ we need not be afraid. He will still the storm and he like a mother will cherish every one of us as if we were the only one. Amen

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Hymn of Faith: Thanks & Praise 52 He’s got the whole world in his hands”(adapted)
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at
He’s got the whole world in his hands,
he’s got the whole wide world in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got you and me, brother, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, sister, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, father, in his hands,
he’s got you and me, mother, in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.
He’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the little tiny babies in his hands,
he’s got the whole world in his hands.

We thank God for giving us others to share in our lives:
For parents, and the love which brought us to birth:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For mothers who have cherished and nurtured us:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For fathers who have loved and supported us,
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For brothers and sisters with whom we have shared our home:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For children and their parents:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For relatives and friends, who have been with us
in our hopes and joys and times of sadness:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
For all who first spoke to us of Jesus, and have drawn us
into the family of our Father in heaven:
We praise you, O Lord;
and bring you thanks today.
Help us to live as those who belong to one another,
and to you, our Father, now and always.

Almighty and All–loving God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
we pray to you through Christ the Healer
for those who suffer from the Coronavirus Covid–19
in Ireland and across the world.
We pray for all who reach out to those who mourn the loss
of each and every person who has died as a result of contracting the disease.
Give wisdom to policymakers,
skill to researchers,
comfort to everyone in distress
and a sense of calm to us all in these days of uncertainty and distress.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord
who showed compassion to the outcast,
acceptance to the rejected
and love to those to whom no love is shown. Amen.

Lighten our darkness, O Lord, we pray,
And in your great mercy defend us
From all perils and dangers
For the love of your only Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

We pray the prayer Jesus taught us, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory
for ever and ever.

Closing Hymn: CH570 “Give me oil in my lamp” (vs.1, 2 and 4)
Listen to and sing along with this hymn at

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
give me oil in my lamp, I pray;
give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning,
keep me burning ‘til the break of day.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King of kings!
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King!
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
give me joy in my heart, I pray;
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising,
keep me praising till the break of day.
Give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
give me love in my heart, I pray;
give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
keep me serving ‘til the break of day.
Traditional v. 1 based on Matthew 25: 8

Let us rejoice that we are precious to God.
May his blessing touch our families
and all who are precious to us.
May we, as the family of God,
shine as precious stones
reflecting his love to the world. Amen.


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