St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Bolivar, Missouri

Thursday, March 16, 2023 “Rose” Sunday Laetare Sunday – 4 Lent

The old name for this “rose” Sunday is Laetare – which means “rejoice” – and comes from the medieval liturgy for the day – which began with Isaiah 66 – “Rejoice, Jerusalem…”

Mothering Sunday
Another name for the 4th Sunday in Lent is “mothering Sunday.” You will see why in this essay, written by the Rev. Steven Wilson as a morning reflection in the last Lenten season that he was alive. He died just over a year ago, and I miss him every day.

Midway through Lent, in most of the Anglican communion, (but not, notably, here in the US), people observe “mothering Sunday.” The medieval readings for the day talked about Jerusalem as a mother for pilgrims to return to (Psalm 122 and Isaiah 66), so the custom developed of going to visit your “mother church,” the parish in which you were baptized.
For me, that would be a congregation in Lebanon Missouri, for Melinda a short drive south of town here. Ashleigh was plunged into the Jordan River just north of where it debouches into the Dead Sea, which would require a passport and a very expensive plane ticket. Only Gabe would get to go to Grace Church today – and that’s probably part of the reason Americans do not generally observe the day. We’re too mobile; unlike Brits we don’t have generations of association with a specific place, the habit of centuries to get married, baptized and buried near where our great-greats did.
Very few of us are blessed to have what some families at Grace Church enjoy: the living memory that five or six generations of babies were baptized in this very font, sat in this very pew, stood at that very altar to slip the rings on the fingers of their beloveds.
But nonetheless, it’s a day worth observing. That’s why the color associated with the day is rose-pink rather than bruise-purple, which is the rest of Lent: like the flowers we might give our mums, and the flowers Mother Earth gives us. So, a suggestion: today’s a good day to call your mum, out of the blue, or to write her a note. Even if she’s in heaven, even if she’s in the dementia unit, even if she’s estranged from you by time and circumstance.
And a good day, too, to remember the best of what your childhood church gave you. I would have a hard time sitting through a service in my mother-Church these days: my theology, my preferences, have grown in differing directions, and while I respect their fervor and devotion, we just don’t see eye to eye on lots of stuff. But they gave me a wealth of biblical quotes (hammered in, no doubt, by repetitive drill, but nonetheless, I’m glad to have them at fingertip) and the ability to sing the hymns the good folks at St Luke’s Nursing Home love (which are most decisively not the hit parade of the Episcopal hymnal 1982). I should be thankful today for those gifts, and not just focus on the differences which have grown up through the years.
And heck, it’s a good day to be kind to Mother Nature. Get out in her, walk around, listen to the earth slowly waking up from its winter nap, notice the jonquils poking up, the tiny dots of welcome color scattered by henbit and dandelion. Notice how busy the squirrels are, and revel for a few days more in a blue sky unfurrowed by too many jet contrails. And if, like me, you’re likely to be sitting through rain and storms, be grateful for the sound of rain on your rooftop, always soothing, and the way the streets and sidewalks are being washed clear of winter’s grit and grime, and how rain is knocking on the door and whispering to turtles, frogs and innumerable bulbs, “time to walk up.”

Potluck again Sunday March 19 – 4 Lent
Main dishes will be varieties of pasta – Bring lasagna, spaghetti, etc. But feel free also to bring any sides you’d like, including salads, fruit, dessert instead.

Another discussion about the future of St Alban’s without a regular clergy person will continue. Mother Cathy retires on September 10, and we need to be ready!



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