THIS IS WHAT THE LORD SAYS: I WILL EXTEND PEACE TO HER LIKE A RIVER, AND THE WEALTH OF THE NATIONS LIKE A FLOODING STREAM, YOU WILL NURSE AND BE CARRIED ON HER ARM AND DANDLED ON HER KNEES. AS A MOTHER COMFORTS HER CHILD, SO WILL I COMFORT YOU … (Isaiah 66: 12-13)
WELCOME TO OUR MOTHERING SUNDAY WEB-SERVICE.
OPENING HYMN (CH-574): – BREAD OF THE WORLD, IN MERCY BROKEN, wine of the soul, in mercy shed, by whom the words of life were spoken, and in whose death our sins are dead: Look on the heart by sorrow broken, look on the tears by sinners shed; and be Thy feast to us the token that by Thy grace our souls are fed.
LET US PRAY:
LORD OUR GOD, on this special day of thanksgiving, we catch a glimpse, through a mother’s love for her child, of Your love for us; the care, dedication and devotion You show to all Your children which makes You as much “our Mother” as “our Father.” As a mother nurtures her children, instructing, feeding, clothing, guiding, so You nurture us, carefully leading us towards maturity. As a mother tends her children, comforting in times of distress, reassuring in times of uncertainty, encouraging in times of challenge, nursing in times of sickness, so You tend us, always there to lift us up and set us on our feet again when we fall. Lord our God, Mother and Father of us all, receive us as we respond, in joyful worship and heartfelt thanksgiving, in the name of Jesus Christ Your Son. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – DEUTERONOMY 8: 10-18. WHEN YOU HAVE EATEN AND ARE SATISFIED, PRAISE THE LORD YOUR GOD FOR THE GOOD LAND HE HAS GIVEN YOU. BE CAREFUL THAT YOU DO NOT FORGET THE LORD YOUR GOD, FAILING TO OBSERVE HIS COMMANDS, HIS LAWS AND HIS DECREES THAT I AM GIVING TO YOU THIS DAY. OTHERWISE, WHEN YOU EAT AND ARE SATIFIED, WHEN YOU BUILD FINE HOUSES AND SETTLE DOWN, AND WHEN YOUR HERDS AND FLOCK GROW LARGE AND YOUR SILVER AND GOLD INCREASE AND ALL YOU HAVE IS MULTIPLIED, THEN YOUR HEART WILL BECOME PROUD AND YOU WILL FORGET THE LORD YOUR GOD, WHO BROUGHT YOU OUT OF EGYPT, OUT OF THE LAND OF SLAVERY. HE LED YOU THROUGH THE VAST AND DREADFUL DESERT, THAT THIRSTY AND WATERLESS LAND, WITH ITS VENOMOUS SNAKES AND SCORPIONS. HE BROUGHT YOU WATER OUT OF HARD ROCK. HE GAVE YOU MANNA TO EAT IN THE DESERT, SOMETHING YOUR FATHERS HAD NEVER KNOWN, TO HUMBLE AND TEST YOU SO THAT IN THE END IT MIGHT GO WELL WITH YOU. YOU MAY SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY POWER AND THE STRENGTH OF MY HANDS HAVE PRODUCED THIS WEALTH FOR ME.” BUT REMEMBER THE LORD YOUR GOD, FOR IT IS HE WHO GIVES YOU THE ABILITY TO PRODUCE WEALTH, AND SO CONFIRMS HIS COVENANT, WHICH HE SWORE TO YOUR FOREFATHERS, AS IT IS TODAY.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – MATTHEW 6: 11.
GIVE US TODAY OUR DAILY BREAD.
BREAD always reminds me of MY MOTHER. The Transylvanian fertile soil produces huge wheat-crops, so bread has always been the staple food in the villages of my homeland. The wheat harvest was hard labour as it was the work of all the people. Then the grain had to be dried and ground into flour in a mill. Baking bread regularly for the family was not an easy task either, but when my Mother finally took the large loaves out of the big outside oven, both the scent and the taste made it worth all the effort. Bread had to be cut first by the oldest man in the house, who would say a short prayer of thanksgiving at the same time. In most of the cases the basic school-sandwich, or the quickest food for any hungry child was bread and plum-jam. Usually in late September, two or three families would work together to make their jams of some delicious ripe plum variety in huge copper bowls on an outside open fire. It was fun for the children and hard work for the mothers, but taking home in the evening tens of kilos of very natural plum-jam for each household, without any sugar or preservatives added to it, was an overwhelming joy. In big ceramic jars, the hardened jam could be kept for years. You were never able to refuse a slice of freshly baked bread with jam; it was like MANNA for a child from a loving Mother. This is why I always associate Bread with my late Mother and with the Mothering Sunday we celebrate.
After the first three sections of the Lord’s Prayer, which are known as The Kingdom prayers, we now come to four petitions known as The Church prayers. This section is about the personal needs of Jesus’ disciples. Thinking about it, is it really necessary for us to pray for our daily bread? What do we mean when we say these begging words: – GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD. These words are a turning point in the Lord’s Prayer. Until this point we were centred on the Kingdom of God. All the promises in the Beatitudes were anchored in an assumption of faithfulness and obedience. But now it is different. We suddenly descend from the holy concerns of the King to the level of our ordinary lives. In a twinkling of an eye, we move from the throne of the King to the most basic, daily need of His subjects – BREAD. This is how Jesus teaches us that this glorious King is our heavenly Father. He wants us to tell Him about our need for bread. He wants to give us bread, and He encourages us to ask for it in our prayers. As with the other petitions, we have to listen carefully to hear exactly what Jesus is saying here. Every word He uses is significant, therefore the words bread and daily and us have some very special meaning for us here. We are no longer concerned with the heavenly kingdom, but with our daily lives. When a disciple tells God about his personal needs and entrusts Him with all these needs, he is in fact praising God for the way in which He provides for all His children’s needs and cares.
BREAD. One easily has the impression that we are dealing here with our own selfish interests in contrast to the previous part, which dealt with God’s Kingdom. When bread is mentioned, is that really about our own survival? Is it so important? Would it not be better to concentrate on even more spiritual things than on ordinary matters? In this model prayer, Jesus is teaching us to go to our Heavenly Father with our ordinary needs also. These everyday needs may seem very unimportant to us if they are viewed from a heavenly perspective. However, these needs occupy about ninety per cent of our daily lives. If we do not include them in our prayers, ninety per cent of our lives would fall outside God’s providence. Jesus wants us to be one hundred per cent at home in the Kingdom of our Father. A 16th century catechism defines this petition of the Lord’s Prayer in this way: Give us this day our daily bread. That is: Provide us with all our bodily needs so that we may acknowledge that You are the only fountain of all good, and that our care and labour, and also Your gifts, cannot do us any good without Your blessing. Grant therefore that we may withdraw our trust from all creatures, and place it only into Your Holy hands. (Answer to Question 125 – from the American and Canadian authorized version of the Heidelberg Catechism, 1563) It is not wrong to ask for bread, but it is important to ask and receive it in the right way: in the full knowledge of our dependence and with sincere gratitude. Not like the five thousand people whom Jesus miraculously fed, and then told them: –“ I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for the food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.” Then they asked Him, – “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one He has sent. …I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir”, they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”(John 6: 26-29, 32-35). They had eaten the bread and fish and enjoyed it, but in their greed and selfishness they forgot about the message of God’s wonderful care and providence fulfilled in Salvation through Jesus Christ. Few of us really need to ask for bread; we have plenty. What we do need daily is Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, who nurtures us for all eternity. God wants us to trust Him to supply what we need each day, physically and spiritually, until all will be taken into our Father’s eternal home.
GIVE US. The word US is equally important. We are not saying, – give ME. This is not a selfish prayer. With this prayer on our lips we should be thinking beyond our own safety, satisfaction, and well- provided lives. We should be thinking of our sisters and brothers who really are hungry, unsafe, and unsaved. While we pray, we should always be thinking about sharing our bread with the hungry and the Bread of Life with all those who are in need of being saved. This petition teaches dependence and generosity. Without the hand of the Father we cannot survive. In gratitude we should reach out to others who also wish to survive. This prayer does give us an opportunity to talk to God about all OUR NEEDS, but it teaches us to never selfishly demand things. Jesus teaches us in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15), that selfish greed leads us away from our Father. This petition also reminds us of our responsibility towards others. Through Jesus, we become part of a multitude of people with needs, coming to Him with all the needs and troubles of the present Pandemic, and just suddenly we realise that our King is the Almighty God and Father. Faithfully we can ask Him to relieve the hunger for healing and safety in today’s world. Jesus says, – You give them something to eat. (Matthew 14: 16), reminding us of our faith-provision, to offer our own piece of Bread of Life to God, and ask Him to do a miracle so that others may eat with us and be satisfied.
Remember this next time you throw away any bread you do not need, while others are starving, or giving up praying for anyone you know in need of the Bread of Life, to be saved. AMEN.
Her hands held me gently from the day I took my first breath.
Her hands helped to guide me as I took my first step.
Her hands held me close when the tears would start to fall.
Her hands were quick to show me that she would take care of it all.
Her hands are now twisting with age and years of work,
Her hand now needs my gentle touch to rub away the hurt.
Her hands are more beautiful than anything can be.
Her hands are the reason I am me.
(A poem for Mothering Day, by Maggie Pittman)
LET US PRAY:
LIVING AND LOVING GOD, You have called us to be Your children, and You care for us as a mother who deeply cares for her child. So now we pray for those entrusted with the responsibility of motherhood – all those who watch over their children in the same way, with the same feelings and intensity. Grant to each one Your wisdom, guidance, and strength. We pray especially for single mothers, those faced with the challenge of raising a child or children on their own, with no one else to share the demands or joys of parenthood. May the Bread of Live help them to deal with their bread-and-butter everyday problems. Give to each of them patience, devotion, and dedication. We pray for those who have recently lost their mothers due to Coronavirus pandemic or any other illness. Bless those who never knew their mothers, those orphaned as children or being given up for adoption, those whose mothers have passed away some time ago, and all for whom this day brings pain rather than pleasure. Grant them Your comfort, Your support, and the assurance that Your love will be always with them. We pray for those who are separated from their children, those whose children are unable to visit them because of the Covid restrictions, those who feel that may never see each other again. We pray especially for those parents who are in hospitals or are dying, and for their children who are simply unable to visit them. Be with us all, dear Lord. It is a year now since Coronavirus turned our lives and our world upside down; our prayer for the everyday needs is still raised to Your Son, our Bread of Life, to help us survive, and continually live through Him. Bless Your Church here and everywhere. Be with our loved ones and all those whom we now name in our hearts before You. Our daily bread is to believe in You , and whom You sent to be our Saviour, Jesus Christ, our Lord. For His name sake, hear our prayers, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, One, Eternal God. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN (CH-89) – GUIDE ME, O THOU GREAT JEHOVAH, pilgrim through this barren land; I am weak, but Thou art mighty; hold me with thy powerful hand: Bread of Heaven, Bread of heaven, feed me till my want is o’er.( + repeat the last sentence)
Open now the crystal fountain, whence the healing stream doth flow; let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through: Strong Deliverer, Strong deliverer, Be Thou still my strength and shield. ( + )
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside! Death of death, and hell’s destruction, land me safe on Canaan’s side! Songs of praises, songs of praises, I will ever give to Thee. ( + )
THE LORD IS GOOD TO THOSE WHOSE HOPE IS IN HIM, TO THE ONE WHO SEEKS HIM; IT IS GOOD TO WAIT QUIETLY FOR THE SALVATION OF THE LORD. (Lamentations 3: 25-26) – TO THE ONLY WISE GOD BE GLORY FOR EVER THROUGH JESUS CHRIST! AMEN. (Romans 16: 27).
Sandor, your Minister.
Please see Bill’s message about the Easter church magazine on the News and Intimations page