Today is Mothering Sunday and is a part of our Episcopal tradition. It is to be the gentlest of the four Sundays of Advent. During the sixteenth century, people returned to their mother church, the main church or cathedral of the area, for a service to be held on that Sunday. This was either a large local church, or more often the nearest Cathedral. In later times, Mothering Sunday became a day when domestic servants were given a day off to visit their mother church, usually with their own mothers and other family members. It was often the only time that whole families could gather together, since on other days they were prevented by conflicting working hours.
Children and young people who were "in service" (servants in richer households) were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families (or, originally, return to their "mother" church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place them in the church or to give them to their mothers as gifts. Eventually, the religious tradition evolved into the Mothering Sunday secular tradition of giving gifts to mothers.
This is a Sunday when, as we await the birth of the Christ Child, we think a bit about Jesus’s mother, Mary as well. And that is why the heading for this thought is Fearless Love. “Fearless Love” is also the theme of our Diocese – “The Episcopal Diocese of San Diego: a missionary community that dares to follow Jesus Christ in his life of fearless love for the world.”
That is what Mary did. She loved God in spite of the possible things that might happen to a young, unmarried, pregnant girl in 1st Century Israel; she could be stoned, ostracized, her family could face disgust, hate, and even reprisals. In the midst of all these possibilities God came to her. God came at a time that could not be more frightening; a time when fear could have overridden hope and faith.
“God grant you the courage to risk something big for something good!” That is what Mary did.
God being with us in this time of transition, being with us as we prepare the way of the coming of Jesus into the world to be with us, it is the time for fearless love on our part. It is the time to reach out to each other, to find ways to continue and to grow the mission God has given us here. It is the time to dare us to follow Jesus Christ in his life of fearless love for the world.