Summary: A sermon for Mothering Sunday 2021 - Pandemic still rages, but lockdown is slowly beginning to be lifted. A sermon on loss
24When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull,* an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, ‘Sir! As you live, Sir, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.’
There she is little child in hand. It’s the ancient middle east. Perhaps he is four or five or six. “You are big boy now. You don’t need mummy’s milk any more, and now Samuel you have got to be brave.”
(1 sam 1:24-28)
Tears in her eyes she waves goodbye to little Sammy as she leaves him at the shrine.
The last few years have been such a joy. He is a miracle child. She was infertile. While that other woman her husband slept with dropped baby after baby she could not conceive. He told her he loved her more. But she couldn’t conceive
Then the miracle. The answer to prayer
And now she must trust God and wave goodbye to little sammy.
She’ll only see him for visits
Summer 1939 Jewish Parents in Germany are telling their children “you are big children now” as they put them on the train for the Kindertransport
“Mum and dad hugged and kissed me,” writes Anne “then whispered that I should look out the window at the next station, but one. There were my parents, on the platform, waving to me as if their hands would drop off. That was the very last time I ever saw them.” (1)
Barbara is interviewed in the Express -
“It’s absolutely fantastic. I would love to give her a huge hug but I can’t and we can’t sit too close either, but to hold her hand is fantastic – I think I’ve been squeezing a bit too hard.” (2)
For the first time in 12 months barbara has been allowed to hold the hand of her elderly mum Joan in the care home she is in. A year ago without warning - lockdown. Carehomes were sealed. they were cut off from their 87 year old mum. No proper goodbyes. She was alone and afraid in the home struggling from Dementia. Like Hannah, they felt so helpless, handing their loved one over to someone else’s care. Like Hannah, trying to hide the tears in her eyes. Occasionally they were allowed to wave through the window at Joan. Joan didn’t understand. The Dementia was cruel. The Pandemic was crueler. Would they have lost their last twelves months with? Would that be it.?
For many sadly it was. For Barabara, thank God, not
March 8th the doors of the home open. As the one designated family member she is allowed in, masked up, but she can hold Joan’s hand
Another family. Another time, before lockdown, before Covid
Their mother is lying there dying
I have been called by the family to the hospital bed. Three times in the last few days. They are crowded into the little hospital room - the room with no other patients, that bittersweet family privacy awarded to you when they know you have not got long to go. The daughter,the son, three grown upgrandaughters - they sit there. Silence. They don’t know what to say. “hearing is the last sense to go.” I encourage them to share stories “Do you remember when” says one. They talk about her cooking. “If you stopped by the house even for five minutes there would be a plate thrust into your hand piled with cakes” one explained to me. You could’t come into her sitting room without her wanting to feed you up. I became a useful stooge as they talked about her. Her Eccentricities. Childhood holidays. Christmases. “mum always used to”. They love their mum so much. I encourage them to speak to her not just about her.
I pray with her, “I lift up my eyes to the lord - from whence does my help come” - the oil anointed onto her forehead in the sign of the cross.
It is beautiful. Hand held. Sometimes she becomes conscious and says a word or two. They will never forget this. Painful but joyful - these precious last few days with their beautiful mum
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, 4who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.