Sunday, March 27th – Mothering Sunday (Fourth Sunday in Lent)

Covid Protocols: starting this week, you no longer need to pre-register to participate in in-person worship. Masks must be worn properly at all times inside the building. We have left the pews on one side of the church blocked for physical distancing, to ensure that those people who feel more comfortable maintaining physical distancing know that they are fully welcome in our worship services. We will continue to live-stream the 10 o’clock Eucharist each Sunday.

You can join in worshipping on Sunday, live or later, via YouTube! We’ll continue to offer a welcome at about 9:45, followed by some prelude music. The service will begin at 10 am. The service will be posted to YouTube, and you can use the same link to join in later.

If you’re joining from afar, keep this order of service handy to enable you to participate in the service. It has all the responses, the hymn texts, and special prayers you might choose to use while those attending in-person receive the eucharist.

This week we hear of a promise fulfilled: the people celebrate Passover and eat the fruits of the promised land as their forty years’ journey through the desert ends at Gilgal (Joshua 5.9-12).

In the gospel, we’ll hear a familiar story that still provokes us to astonishment at God’s grace. A young man insults his father and family and society, wanders far away and squanders his inheritance, and decides to repent and return home and beg for forgiveness–only to be welcomed with staggering generosity beyond anything he imagined, much to the chagrin of his older brother! (Luke 15.1-3, 11b-32). Here’s a short list of some of the names this story has been given:

Frank Wesley's "Forgiving Father"
  • the Parable of the Two Sons and their Loving Father
  • the Parable of the Father’s Love
  • a Parable of the Lost
  • the Parable of the Prodigal SonS

Why so many names, and not the first one that might jump to mind? Well, perhaps by referring to this story differently, we try to open ourselves to other aspects of what Jesus is teaching about who God is and how God chooses to be with us. Share with us your thoughts about this passage after spending time reading it and praying with it!

The Fourth Sunday in Lent is also Mothering Sunday and Laetare Sunday. Laetare Sunday was a day of respite halfway through the penance and fasting of the Lenten Season. Laetare–rejoice!–is the first word of the introit for the day, the beginning of the service. The passages that used to be assigned for the day had a number of references to and images of mothers. People started to use the day to visit their mothers, and/or their mother church–where they had been baptised, or the diocesan cathedral. In the early 20th century, Constance Penswick Smith encouraged the celebration of different aspects of motherhood:

  • the Church — Our Mother
  • Mothers of Earthly Homes
  • the Mother of Jesus
  • Gifts of Mother Earth

The Mothers’ Union (and you needn’t be a mother to be part of it!) is a world-wide organization devoted to caring for and nurturing family life. They’re currently making special efforts to support the families of Ukranians. Learn more at their website.

Image Attributions and Permissions:

Both images in this post are sourced from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library’s project Art in the Christian Tradition, and are used under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial ShareAlike 3.0 License.

JESUS MAFA. Prodigal Son, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 22, 2022]. Original source: (contact page:

Wesley, Frank, 1923-2002. Forgiving Father, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 22, 2022]. Original source: Contact the Vanderbilt Divinity Library for further information.