Exodus 2:1-10 and John 19:25b-27
Anyone who has ever watched Peppa Pig will know that it is mummy pig that holds the Pig family together. She is always smartly dressed, works from home, never loses her temper. Peppa and her brother George, always appear well fed and clean, obviously before the jumping in muddy puddles bit, and the programme makes no secret that it is due to the nature and hard work of Mummy Pig. Daddy Pig, on the other hand, is often seen to be a bit silly, always being shown up by perfect Mummy Pig and held to hostage by Peppa and George who rule the roost with tantrums and demands.
It is quite the world away from the scene where ‘normal’ families were depicted in mainstream television – I am thinking along the lines of 80’s favourites such as Little House on the Prairie which, combined with perfect fashion sense of the day and model good looks, the dad of the family was in charge, and everyone looked happy. And then we have the complete family dysfunction of ‘Keeping up with Kardasians’ and the like – no real need for elaboration there.
It is reasonably obvious that the examples I have mentioned are worlds apart from what real life truly is. Popular culture changes over the years, but what stays the same is the pressure of image – of trying to fit in with the normal, of being a certain way. And that living this way will lead to success, whatever the definition of success may be. Strewn along the wayside are the casualties – those who have struggled to achieve the impossible in an imaginary competition.
We all know that life in general is a wonderful patchwork of bright and dark colours, glowing sections and fading areas and that is reflected in our readings this morning, that makes no secret of the fact that life is not black and white. They include stories of heartache, which is contrasted by moments of tender comfort which have power to heal and enable us to carry on. We hear of how Moses’ mother took a leap of faith which ensured the safety of her baby and his guaranteed protection from a rather unexpected carer. Then in our gospel reading, Jesus, in his dying moments, ensures that his mother and friend will have each other to depend on and care for in his absence. What both these readings remind us of is God’s parenting, which is no false, demanding image that we might see on television or from heavily photoshopped celebrities, but the real thing – the parenting we all need, and crave, and we can sense its importance.
However, we don’t always remember to come to God for his parenting and love. All too often we search for it in the world, from those that look as if they have it ‘all together’, from the media, and find ourselves let down as a result. God’s arms are the ones that embrace all of us, giving us hope by holding us all in those loving arms, and setting us on our feet again.
What I personally find very comforting is that we don’t have to pretend with God that there aren’t any troubles, we all know that the world is far from perfect. We also do not have to pretend that we are always managing or holding it all together. God knows what human life is all about through his son, Jesus. He knows the heartaches and the conflicts. He knows how vulnerable we become when we love, and we care. We have hope through Christ, but we need to know where to look. Look for the colours, look for the light, taking strength from knowing that God is in control. Listen to his guiding voice and look for signs of his love in the beauty of the world around us and in each other. That is the best message that Mothering Sunday can give – a message of hope, love, and care for all.
Robyn Connelly, Children’s and Families Minister