Sunday Worship, 27 March 2022

Mother’s Day

Service starts 11:15am in Riverside


Satisfy us at daybreak with your love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Psalm 90: 14

Choir Introit

Hymn 124 Praise to the Lord the Almighty

Opening Prayer


On Mother’s day we think about the care and concern

 of our family for us – especially mums, grans, aunts and


but it is also a time to think about your care and concern for us

 your love is constant, faithful and true

 you are our best and most faithful friend

 always there for us

 always working for the best for us

but also ready to speak plainly to us when we need it

as we get near to Good Friday and Easter

 we remember how much your love for us cost

 that Jesus was ready to suffer and die for us

 but you showed us on Easter Day

  that goodness, love and truth always have the last word

forgive us for the times we haven’t appreciated you love

 for the times that we haven’t appreciated

  the love and kindness of family and friends

help us to begin again

 and with your Spirit’s help

 try to be the people you want us to be

 the people you know we can be

through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

Today is Mother’s Day. Mums come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. No two are the same, because people are all different, and the circumstances in which they live are different.

Elspeth always said she belonged to the lucky generation who could choose to stay at home for as long as they liked looking after children, and then go back to work when they chose. Older generations of women had to give up work either when they married, or when they had children – partly because that was what the contract said, and partly because being a home-maker was a full-time job when there were no ‘mod cons’ like washing machines and vacuum cleaners. Younger generations now have no option but to go back, to ensure that they can stay on the job ladder, to pay for the mortgage and other living costs, and because if there is a partner, there is no guarantee that their job is secure.

If you go further back some mums had nannies, and children who lived in nurseries, but I suspect that most of our ancestors were struggling to look after large families in very small spaces. Some really struggled, some showed remarkable resilience. This is a photo of one of my great, great grandmothers, who was widowed in her late 30s with three children, one under a year old. Her parents were dead, as were her in-laws, and she had lost three of her own children. How I don’t know, but she started a draper’s business which appears to have thrived, because she ended up owning  property and two sons established their own businesses, one doing very well as a photographer. My grandmother had tales of her grandmother walking 8 miles or so into Glasgow each week to stock up on supplies, and walking back, with the youngster on her back.

Mother’s Day is a chance to think of current mums, and mums who have passed on, but maybe also to remember those who have a really tough time: facing abuse, discrimination, neglect, lack of support, in this country and abroad. It’s maybe a time too as a church to reflect on how life has changed for mums as we make our Mission Plans for the future. What can we do for the mums who are between birth and going back to work, when they don’t know many folk around during the day; or the young families that spend their evenings buzzing between dropping off here and picking up there? What are their needs, what are the stresses that they are facing?

Hymn 577 Christ be beside me

Bible reading

Luke 15: 1-3, 11b-32 Freda Shand


I remember being in the synagogue a few years ago listening to a rabbi talking about ‘families’. It was just after the scandal broke regarding Herodias divorcing her uncle Philip and marrying his brother Antipas. The rabbi was denouncing this flagrant breach of the Law and went on to talk of the ‘traditional family values’ enshrined in it. He pointed to the behaviour of the House of Herod – whom he didn’t regard as ‘true Jews’ anyway – and likened them to the family ruling in Rome. Then he contrasted it with the blessings experienced by families who are faithful to the Law, and the happy family lives that they live.

I looked round the synagogue at the people I knew, and wondered what they were thinking at that point:

  • some had lost a husband or wife early in life and struggled to cope not only with their own feelings, but with the pressures of bringing up a family on their own
  • some had remarried, and had step- or half- families, but that brought stresses and tensions
  • some were on their own
  • some either never had children, or had lost them
  • some had family who had moved away, and they have never seen them since
  • some have family at home or nearby, but there are stresses and ruptures, angry words and painful memories
  • some have children and parents, siblings or cousins who are not speaking, who ignore or snub each other
  • some have family members who are in a difficult place through drink or crime, live in poverty, have withdrawn into themselves, or have unpredictable behaviour
  • some have to cope with chronic sickness or disability in family members

Despite all their endeavours to serve God faithfully, how many people in that synagogue – or indeed throughout the world – would struggle with that rabbi’s words? Many families are not ‘happy’, many individuals do not feel ‘blessed’.

I know from my own experience, growing up with my mother and siblings in Nazareth, that living in a family isn’t easy. Maybe it isn’t meant to be. We are all different, some are very different, but we are thrown together and have to live alongside each other – despite having little really in common. I suppose it’s good practice for life in the wider community, where the differences between people can be even greater.

My Heavenly Father loves everyone (Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free), and wants us to love each other – blood relations, in-laws, neighbours, colleagues, strangers, enemies – as he does. Loving is hard. It’s not just about feelings, it’s about what you do, what you say, how you treat other people.

It must break his heart when he sees people wandering away from him, and his values, losing themselves in the pursuit of Self. He wants injustices put right, but he also wants all who wander away to come back to him. And he loves and cares for those who stay faithful to his ways. Life on earth may be hard, loving those around may be a painful process, but in the life that is to come there will be peace and love between everyone, and his heart will be filled with joy seeing everyone reconciled.

Hymn 500 Lord of creation to you be all praise

Prayers for others

Caring God

You care about everyone in the world

You are always working to put right the wrongs

  that people or nature cause

 trying to build peace and justice in your world

we pray today for our friends and families

 but especially for mums and grans, sisters and aunts

 for all those expecting a baby

 and for those for whom talk of babies brings tears

for those struggling to cope with life

  especially if they have children to look after too

 those who are ill, those who worry about them,

  those who care for them

 those waiting for or receiving treatment

  and those for whom there is no treatment

 those who are feeling lonely, down

  or grieving a friend or loved one

 those who don’t have enough to eat

  don’t have somewhere to call home

 those who are worried about family, friends, work, home,


 those who long to live in peace and safety

we pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

we pray for your church

 the worldwide church, the wider church in Dumbarton

  our own congregation

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

Hymn 182 Now thank we all our God

Blessing (3-fold Amen)

Secure in God’s love

be steadfast in his service

and the blessing of God Almighty

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

rest and remain with you

today, and every day, and for ever

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