Rev. Andrew Cunnington
14th March 2021
Coming Home to the Temple

It’s great to be sharing these thoughts for Mothering Sunday close to our lovely image of Mary as she holds Jesus tenderly in her arms and shows us what being a Mother might look like. But as I’ve said before, Jesus is a bit of a wriggler here I reckon. It’s as if He wants to get down from this safe place and start exploring the world.

And in our Gospel reading just now – Jesus has well and truly done that. It’s an amazing story ! There would have been a great procession of families making their way home after the festival in the Holy City and I suppose it would have been nothing out of the ordinary for children to run between the families on the journey and play together. Maybe in those days people trusted each other more than we are inclined to do today.

But the world was a risky place back then. There were wild animals around in the more lonely stretches and robbers hid amongst the hills in those days too. So you wouldn’t want your children straying too far.

Now given that they knew how special Jesus was – it does seem a worry that Mary and Joseph went a whole day before they realised He was missing – I mean wouldn’t you have been inclined to take even more care if your son was the Jesus. I’d have been worried sick on a daily basis with that responsibility.

And then when they go searching it takes them three days before they think to go into the temple to look for him. I would have thought it would be the first place they would try.

So children – I wonder if you can think of a time when you found yourself lost – you looked round and mummy and daddy were nowhere to be seen. I can remember dawdling along the seafront at Hastings licking an ice cream and suddenly I looked up and all I could see were strangers.

And parents – suddenly you look round for the familiar face of your child in some playground adventure park – and for a moment you can’t see them anywhere.

On Mothering Sunday we give thanks for Mothers in all sorts of ways. There’s Mother Mary here with her gentle protection, then we think of Mother Earth which brings forth all that keeps us fed and Mother Nature the whole kingdom of animals and more, who keep our earth as a place of such wonder and colour. And we worry about what climate change might to do all this.

Alongside this we sometimes call our church Mother Church and that might seem a strange thing to say.

But here is where we are nurtured in our faith in God and we find all sorts of ways here to show a Mother’s love as we care for one another.

Now on the day that Jesus ran off, our story tells us that he went to the temple. A place that would have seemed like a home to Godfearing people in those days and for Jesus – as he discovered who he was – it had a special pull.

If you think back to the days when you were a child – or if you are a child now – did you or do you ever play games that seem really important to you and perhaps pointed you to the sort of person you might become.

I think I told you before that I used to play churches in my back garden and the little plot of ground where I did that is still there today. One of my children wanted to play teachers day in and day out when she was little and today she is one.

Now here’s Jesus in the temple at 12 years old – sort of acting out what he would be doing twenty years later.

The temple was a place that often set things moving for people.

It keeps cropping up in the stories of Jesus.

Do you remember the story of Zechariah and how he was told that with Elizabeth they would be the parents of John The Baptist. In the temple.

Do you remember Simeon and Anna coming up to the Holy Family and recognising Jesus for who he was. In the temple.

Do you remember where Jesus went first when he came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey on Palm Sunday? The temple. His most captivating teaching took place. In the temple.

There’s loads more examples to find of where he met all sorts of people there and like a Mother nurtured them towards something new.

So in a couple of weeks we hope we shall be opening Mother Church again for us all to come to.

And so many people have said to me how much they miss St Matthew’s.

Its not just a meeting room is it? It’s not just social gathering place? It’s not just a community hub – to use a trendy phrase – and its not just a Foodbank.

It’s where Jesus is to be found as much today as in the times we’ve been thinking about.

Of course he’s everywhere in the world – not contained here or locked up here- but here is where he offers us everything that a Mother does.

Protective sheltering love.

Bringing out the best in us.

Bringing out new things in us.

Showing us the way to be.

Feeding us.

And putting us all in the heart of a family so we can help each other along.

So happy Mothering Sunday to you and your family, and to the mums who do so much for us. And for this place where we can all join together in those things.

LUKE 2: 41-52