All Saints’ Church Renhold Bedfordshire, England

Sunday 19th March 2023

Fourth Sunday in Lent & Mothering Sunday

Please join in all the words in bold type.

Hymn  104 For the beauty of the earth.


Welcome in the name of Christ. God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you

and also with you.

Praise God who loves us.

Praise God who cares.

Praising and Thanking God


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


Let us call to mind our sins, our failure to value the love of others and our failure to love Christ as he loved us

Time of silence for reflection

Your love gives us life for the moment of conception

We fail to live as your children

Lord have mercy

Lord, have mercy.

You called 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 own image

to the praise and glory of his name.

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen


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 your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Liturgy of the Word

Old Testament Reading    Exodus 2.1-10

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.  The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him for three months.  When she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river.  His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.

The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it.  When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. ‘This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,’ she said.  Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’  Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Yes.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother.  Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed it.  When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, ‘because’, she said, ‘I drew him out of the water.’

New Testament Reading    Colossians 3.12-17

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion,

kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

This is the word of the Lord – Thanks be to God.

Hymn   131 Love divine all Loves excelling!

We remain standing

Gospel Reading      Luke 2.33-35

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke

Glory to you O Lord

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.’

This is the Gospel of the Lord

Praise to you O Christ


I was reading an article by Rev Ann Morris this week where she wrote about a lady who used to come and help her mother with the cleaning (this struck a chord with me as my mum too has a lady who comes and helps her clean the places where she can no longer stretch to) – Rev Ann recalls her mother’s lady as a cheerful and kind woman who lived in terrible poverty and was married to a violent and abusive man. Their son died as a young man as an indirect result of the beatings he received from his fathers’ hand – the damage from these beatings resulted in him having a colostomy and only had one kidney from as early as being a teenager, he had the most torrid childhood. Of course, we know that domestic violence still happens, and children are still brutalised and sometimes killed, but, thankfully, this is now much rarer than it was.

This was still at the front of my mind as I sat down to write a sermon for this morning, this combined with the stresses and strains on people around us in these current times of financial pressures which for some are almost unbearable for them; Even today family life can be very difficult for some people. Mums and dads are not always good mums and dads: some mums are unable to protect their children; some mums are, themselves, violent and abusive towards their children. Thinking about Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day as the world around us refers to it, is not easy for many people, as it unintentionally adds pressure and pain on those who find this time difficult. Some may have lost their mums: I know that there will be several in our community who lost their mums to Covid or during COVID when they were unable to be with them as their life in this world came to an end, which is a source of pain to them. And then of course not everyone becomes a mum: some by choice so take it in their stride, some have no children of their own but become mums and Grans through marriage, or many are almost surrogate mums through the privilege of working with children at church, in school, or as volunteers. But for others not having children is heart-breaking and this day of celebration motherhood increases that pain even further. And then there are the parents who have lost children, or whose children are challenging to bring up or those whose children have disassociated themselves with them. All of these can make Mothering Sunday a bit of a nightmare. 

I think we perhaps need to start from the other end though – from the end of our need of parenting, rather than the performance of some parents.

It is a fact that we all need mothering, especially in childhood: and at the very least we can say that being mothered well is beneficial in our development as people. From there we can say that those who do this job – mums, dads, grandparents, teachers, childminders, neighbours, foster parents – even the parents of friends, should occasionally be honoured and thanked: Mothering can be hard work as it is often a thankless role as so much of it is unremarkable and routine – mothering even the best mothering, is often invisible.

This Mothering Sunday, I invite you to reflect for a few moments on those who have cared, nurtured and been kind to you in your life in the past, and now in the present: call to mind those who show you love. It may be appropriate for those who are becoming less able to perform all the essential basic tasks in life for themselves to reflect and give thanks for their loved ones, children or those who are showing motherly love towards them; Let us give thanks for them – and maybe to say ‘thank you’ in a few moments of prayer.

As we all know the world is changing, and even the Church and parts of its theology are changing too; If I stood up as recently as twenty years ago and preached about the motherhood of God, I would probably have caused a major argument at the least,  as the overriding image of God for the vast majority was of God being a Father and only a Father. But I believe that we have to remember that all our images of God are metaphors – after all God is beyond our full knowing, understanding and well beyond our human comprehension; and our using of ‘Our Father’ is metaphorical language, just as much as ‘God our Mother’. The images of the motherhood of God are very ancient – they are stated in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament, and in some very early Christian theology. At its best, the church, as Christ’s body on earth, reflects the mothering and nurturing nature of God: in fact, Mothering Sunday was originally all about the church, our mother! So, the work of teaching and encouraging children, of enabling people of all ages to continue to develop and grow as people, gaining confidence, learning new skills, taking responsibility, becoming more confident in faith – all these things are important, and are a reflection of part of what we believe about God.

I know that for some, experiences of their mothers are traumatic and cast a long shadow. But hopefully most of us will have some kind of positive experience of a mother figure. In the same way, as with the family I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon, some grow up with violent and abusive fathers. When it comes to God-language, people vary – I know that many have struggled with naming God as Father because of their negative experiences of their fathers, while others have been able to trust God as the ‘good Father’ they never had. Whether we address God as Father or Mother, the important thing to remember is that God’s is the best kind of mothering or fathering: here in God is a parent full of love, care, concern, comfort. When we hold on to this, we are able to hear the voice of Mother Julian of Norwich, the medieval English mystic who wrote “‘when [a child] is hurt or frightened, it runs to its mother for help as fast as it can; and [God] wants us to do the same, like a humble child, saying, “My kind Mother, my gracious Mother, my dearest Mother, take mercy on me”’

Kindness, graciousness, mercy – these are attributes of God and of the church; and mother figures at their best, whoever they are. Amen

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,

from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,

who lives in our hearts through faith, and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,

who strengthens us with power from on high.

We believe in one God; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Led by Ann Timms

God of Love. Hear our prayer.

Merciful Father,

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Liturgy of the Sacrament


Praise God who loves us

Praise God who cares

Through the prophet Isaiah, God says

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you

The peace of the Lord be always with you.

And also, with you.

Hymn  163 Angel voices ever singing

Yours, Lord, is the greatness, the power,

the glory, the splendour, and the majesty;

for everything in heaven and on earth is yours.

All things come from you,

and of your own do we give you

The Lord be with you

And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.

We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, Lord God,

our light and our salvation;

to you be glory and praise for ever.

From the beginning you have created all things

and all your works echo the silent music of your praise.

In the fullness of time you made us in your image,

the crown of all creation.

You give us breath and speech, that with angels and archangels

and all the powers of heaven

we may find a voice to sing your praise:

Holy, holy, holy Lord,

God of power and might,

heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the highest.

[Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.

Hosanna in the highest.]

How wonderful the work of your hands, O Lord.

As a mother tenderly gathers her children,

you embraced a people as your own.

When they turned away and rebelled

your love remained steadfast.

From them you raised up Jesus our Saviour, born of Mary,

to be the living bread,

in whom all our hungers are satisfied.

He offered his life for sinners,

and with a love stronger than death

he opened wide his arms on the cross.

On the night before he died,

he came to supper with his friends

and, taking bread, he gave you thanks.

He broke it and gave it to them, saying:

Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you;

do this in remembrance of me.

At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,

he gave you thanks, and said:

Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,

which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Christ is the bread of life

When we eat this bread and drink this cup

We proclaim your death, Lord Jesus

Until you come in glory.

Father, we plead with confidence

his sacrifice made once for all upon the cross;

we remember his dying and rising in glory,

and we rejoice that he intercedes for us at your right hand.

Pour out your Holy Spirit as we bring before you

these gifts of your creation;

may they be for us the body and blood of your dear Son.

As we eat and drink these holy things in your presence,

form us in the likeness of Christ,

and build us into a living temple to your glory.

Bring us at the last with all the saints

to the vision of that eternal splendour

for which you have created us;

through Jesus Christ, our Lord,

by whom, with whom, and in whom,

with all who stand before you in earth and heaven,

we worship you, Father almighty, in songs of everlasting praise:

Blessing and honour and glory and power

be yours for ever and ever. Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Let us pray with confidence as our Saviour has 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.

Breaking of the Bread

We break this bread to share in the body of Christ

Though we are many, we are one body

because we all share in the on bread.

Giving of Communion

God’s holy gifts

for God’s holy people.

Jesus Christ is holy,

Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

The Body and Blood of Christ


Prayer After Communion

Jesus, lord of time,

hold us in your eternity.

Jesus, image of God,

travel with us the life of faith.


Jesus, friend of sinners,

heal the brokenness of our world.

Jesus, lord of tomorrow,

draw us into your future. Amen.

Prayer for Mothers and Distribution of Flowers

Praise God who loves us.

Praise God who cares.

For the care of mothers:

Thanks be to God.


For their patience when tested:

Thanks be to God.


For their love when tired:

Thanks be to God.


For their hope when despairing:

Thanks be to God.

For their service without limit:

Thanks be to God

At the end of the distribution, we say this prayer:

Thank you God for the love of our mothers;

thank you God for their care and concern;

thank you God for the joys they have shared with us;

thank you God for the pains they have borne for us;

thank you God for all that they give us;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Dismissal

Praise God who loves us.

Praise God who cares.

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, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and for ever.


Hymn  394 Lord of all hopefulness   

Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ. Amen.

Material from Common Worship is copyright © The Archbishops' Council of the Church of England

CCL1 Number 804157