Summary: A short talk for Mothering Sunday, given at a service of baptism where lots of Brownies and Scouts were also present. The talk aims to publicise the great work of the Mothers’ Union, although I would personally like to rename it Mothers United!

Yesterday, sitting outside the bathroom I saw a copy of this magazine called Families First and it’s great. ‘Families First’ is a magazine produced by The Mothers’ Union, aiming to encourage strong marriages, good parenting and active faith. I really like those three aims because I believe that strong marriages, good parenting and active faith are the very best environment for children to grow up in. Sadly, sometimes things go wrong, and the Bible is clear that God cares deeply about orphans and widows; and I include in that people who’ve been abandoned by a partner because God cares deeply for you; and he wants his church to care deeply.

Lots of you know that I enjoy football, both watching and playing, but what you may not know is that I am a very big M.U. fan. Yes, it’s true. In fact I am a big M.U. supporter. So much so that on Wednesday 4th April I am going to become an official member of M.U.

The Mothers’ Union that is! Membership is open to men and women, single or married; and members agree to support the following aims and objectives: One, to uphold Christ’s teaching on the nature of marriage; Two, to encourage parents to bring up their children in the life of the church. Three, to maintain a worldwide fellowship of Christians united in prayer, worship and service; Four, to promote conditions in society favourable to stable family life and the protection of children; and five, to help those whose family life has met with adversity. Fantastic!

Now I know the name Mothers’ Union might sound old fashioned, which is why I’d like it changed to Mothers’ United; but the work they do is great. For example, the M.U. runs a scheme called Get Away From It All; a holiday scheme to help people who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford a holiday. It’s open to anyone who is experiencing stress in their family life so please can I ask you to have a think right now.

Do you know someone who could benefit? If you do, please do something about it. I’ve got details here with me today, or we could talk confidentially on the phone if that would be better. Amazingly, the pot of money never gets fully used!

What a joy it has been this morning to baptise Oliver and Thomas and Isaac; three very young men who we have officially welcomed into the church – the family of faith; three young lives made in the image of God; three boys who need to experience through their Mums and their Dads a strong marriage, good parenting, and active faith. So Dean and Sharon, and Richard and Helen our prayers are with you; and I am also praying for every family represented here today.

Some of you here may be experiencing difficulties at home. Things might be really tough and you may not know where to turn. If that’s you I want to encourage you to reach out to God; and I want to encourage you with today’s Bible reading.

St. Paul was writing to a church. He’s just encouraged his readers to do away with a list of wrong attitudes and behaviour including ‘evil desires and greed’ (3:5) and ‘anger, rage, slander and malice’ (3:8); and St. Paul knew that a relationship with Christ changes us. He wrote, ‘Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you’ (3:12-13); so that when we accept the gift of life and forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross, God choses to forgive and to remember our sins no more. As humans we might forgive but we find it hard to forget; whereas God choses to forgive and forget; and asks us to forgive one another.

In this issue of Families First Sandra Lacey writes a moving account of her experiences of bereavement; and a couple called David and Lise talk about the challenges they faced when Lise became ill with M.E.

They attended something called The Marriage Course, and Lise writes, “I remember sitting on the floor for most of the course as I didn’t have the energy to sit on a chair and David sat with me. There were lots of tears and hugs …but it really helped us to see past our situation and to focus on each other, which was what we needed.”

As a Church we want to help and support family life. Ladies, if you’ve got pre-school children can I encourage you to send them with your partners to our Saturday morning dads and Toddlers group? We want you to have some extra time in bed if possible - while the dads enjoy bacon rolls, and coffee and a hall full of play equipment to occupy them and your child or children. During the Easter holidays we want to help you by hosting an Easter Holiday Bible club for Primary school children, Monday 2nd to Thursday 5th April 10 to 11.45 a.m. and registration forms are available from the Church office and after the service.

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