Circuit Worship: Mothering Sunday – Sunday 14th March 2021

Led by Rev Miriam Moul

If you would like to join this service of worship using just the videos playing one after another, you can visit our playlist on Youtube by following the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLc2KHyGgDaLuvmjunFXXvuK2JZbxkiT__

Welcome and call to worship

A very warm welcome to this service of worship from the Oxford Methodist Circuit. My name is Reverend Miriam Moul and I am one of the Ministers of the Circuit serving Cowley Road Methodist Church and as Methodist Chaplain at Oxford Brookes University. Whoever you are and from wherever you are joining us today, we are delighted that you are here.

On this fourth Sunday in Lent we also celebrate Mothering Sunday. Today we give thanks for the mothering love of God and of all mothers. In our time together we will also acknowledge some of the more challenging aspects of this day, amidst giving thanks for all those who have shown us the mothering love of God.

Would you join me in prayer as we gather together?

Call to Worship

We gather together to worship our loving, nurturing God, who, like a mother, knows us intimately, loves us unconditionally, guides us gently the way we should go, and comforts us in times of need. Praise God, the Source and Sustainer of life! Amen.

Song:

Singing the Faith 28 Jesus calls us here to meet him

Opening Prayers

Let us pray together:

Holy God, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, life and love and hope.

In the creative cover of darkness, you formed your creation until the time where your light burst forth,

illuminating the beauty, vibrancy and wonder of all that you have made.

May we your beloved people encounter you, in the spectacular and in the mundane.

Ever-creating God, meet afresh with us as we come to worship.

God of transformation,

in love you sent your Son to live among your people, to enter the frailty of human flesh.

Befriending the ‘wrong’ sort of people, Jesus, powerfully proclaimed your message.

Jesus demonstrated the depth and breadth of your great love,

love too strong to be bound and held by death,

love that burst forth from a tomb with the rising sun.

Ever-creating God, meet afresh with us as we come to worship.

Holy Spirit of God, love and laughter, creativity, dance and song,

you call us continually into relationship with you and one another.

In this time of challenge, of fear and uncertainty,

encourage us to look for signs of you at work all around us.

Ever-creating God, meet afresh with us as we come to worship.

And on this Mothering Sunday:

Holy God, we remember the mothers

who have gone before us.

For their love, sacrifice, struggle and joy,

we thank you.

Nurturing God, we remember the mothers of Scripture

who are part of our story

as we are a part of your story.

For their courage, faith, love and fierceness,

we thank you.

Enfolding God, we remember those who have not given birth to us,

but are mothers to us.

For their gift of themselves that they have given,

we thank you.

For the women who struggle with fertility,

for those women whom society labels as less in their childlessness,

for those women who have lost children;

for their tears, for their strength,

for their wisdom, for their lives,

we thank you in the name of Christ. Amen.

Reading 1

Psalm 139:1-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me. 
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
   you discern my thoughts from far away. 
You search out my path and my lying down,
   and are acquainted with all my ways. 
Even before a word is on my tongue,
   O Lord, you know it completely. 
You hem me in, behind and before,
   and lay your hand upon me. 
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
   it is so high that I cannot attain it. 


Where can I go from your spirit?
   Or where can I flee from your presence? 
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
   if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. 
If I take the wings of the morning
   and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, 
even there your hand shall lead me,
   and your right hand shall hold me fast. 
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
   and the light around me become night’, 
even the darkness is not dark to you;
   the night is as bright as the day,
   for darkness is as light to you. 


For it was you who formed my inward parts;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
   Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well. 
   My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
   intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
   all the days that were formed for me,
   when none of them as yet existed. 
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
   How vast is the sum of them! 
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
   I come to the end—I am still with you. 

Reading 2

John 19:25-27

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

Song:

Singing the Faith 119 God of Eve and God of Mary

Reflection

Prayers of Intercession and The Lord’s Prayer

“As truly as God is our father, so just as truly is God our mother.

In our father, God Almighty, we have our being;

in our merciful mother we are re-made and restored.

Our fragmented lives are knit together and made perfect.

And by giving and yielding ourselves, through grace, to the Holy Spirit

we are made whole.”

Julian of Norwich

Holy One, we give you thanks and celebrate the gift of your love; a love that supports, nurtures and challenges us in ways that strengthen and transform us. We offer you praise and thanksgiving for your unfailing presence in our lives and all of the blessings that you so generously offer us. 

Today, as we celebrate Mothering Sunday, we give thanks for mothers the world over. We give thanks for all those who have nurtured and cared for us, remembering especially, birth mothers, adoptive mothers, surrogate mothers, aunts, grandmothers, teachers, neighbours and all women who have shared their faith with us. 

We pray, compassionate God, for those mothers who have been hurt, disillusioned, or disappointed in their role as a mother. We pray for those who have longed-for motherhood when that longing remains unrealised, and for those whose years of mothering have been cut short by the loss of a child. 

We lift up before you, Holy God, the members of our human family around the world—for those who suffering at this time—for those who need healing, for those who require bread or shelter, for those who live in violent homes and communities, for those who are grieving, and for those whose needs are known to you alone. 

We spend a few moments in quiet bringing before God our own prayers…

Holy Mother and Father of us all, touch us with your healing peace and gentle embrace us that we may walk in your ways bringing dignity, justice and peace to all. May we embrace the glorious diversity of the tapestry of humankind that you are weaving, may we recognise the value of all, treasure the gift of relationship and recognise your love at the heart of all things. In the name of Christ, we pray. Amen.

We say together the prayer that Jesus taught us…

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. Amen.

Song:

Singing the Faith 503 Love divine, all loves excelling

Blessing:

May God, who gave birth to all creation, bless us: may God, who became incarnate by an earthly mother, bless us: may God, who broods as a mother over her children, bless us.

May almighty God bless us, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, now and for ever. Amen.

Organ Voluntary

Toccata in Seven (John Rutter)

Diane Bish plays an Allen organ in Octave Hall, at the firm’s headquarters in Macungie, PA, USA

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