Worship for Sunday 10th March 2024, by Rev. Caroline Wickens

Invitation to Worship

I was glad when they said to me,
‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’
Blessed are they who dwell in your house.
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Blessed are they who dwell in your house.
They will always be praising you.

Hymn: StF 102 For the beauty of the earth

For the beauty of the earth,
For the glory of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies—

Gracious God, to you we raise,
This our sacrifice of praise.

For the beauty of each hour,
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon, and stars of light—

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth

and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled-

For each perfect gift and sign

Of your love so freely given,

Graces human and divine,

Flowers of earth and buds of heaven-

Folliott S.Pierpoint (1835 – 1917)


Loving God,
you love us like a father who gives good things to his children;
you care for us like a mother hen who draws her chicks to her,

hiding them under her wings so that they will be safe from harm.

Yet we acknowledge before you how often we forget your love and concern.

God says,
When Israel was a child, I loved that child.
I called my children out of Egypt,
But the more I called, the further they went from me.

I was the one who taught them to walk;
I was the one who had taken them in my arms;
but they did not remember
that I had looked after them,
that I had led them in bonds of love,
that I had lifted them like a little child to my cheek,
that I had bent down to feed them.

We sit and hold silence, in which we remember how we forget God.

If we have forgotten you,
forgotten that you made us, feed us and love us,

Lord, have mercy.

Thank you that in your love for us you never turn from us even when we turn from you.

Thank you that in your love for us, you have shown how we should care for each other.
Thank you for all those people who care for us, our mothers, fathers, and other carers.

Help us to remember that caring is not always easy, and never to take for granted the way that you and others care for us.

Thank you that you were with Mary and Joseph, helping them to care for Jesus.
We ask that you will help us to care for those around us, even when it is costly.

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus, in whom costly love was made real,


Reading: Luke 2:41 – 52

The Boy Jesus in the Temple

41 Now every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. 43 When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. 44 Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ 49 He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ 50 But they did not understand what he said to them. 51 Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in years, and in divine and human favour.

Hymn: StF 362 Meekness and majesty

  1. Meekness and majesty
    Manhood and Deity
    In perfect harmony
    The Man who is God
    Lord of eternity
    Dwells in humanity
    Kneels in humility
    And washes our feet

    O what a mystery
    Meekness and majesty
    Bow down and worship
    For this is your God
    This is your God

  1. Father’s pure radiance
    Perfect in innocence
    Yet learns obedience
    To death on a cross
    Suffering to give us life
    Conquering through sacrifice
    And as they crucify
    Prays: ‘Father forgive.’

    3. Wisdom unsearchable
    God the invisible
    Love indestructible
    In frailty appears
    Lord of infinity
    Stooping so tenderly
    Lifts our humanity
    To the heights of His throne

Graham Kendrick (b.1950), © 1986 ThankYou Music


‘Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’: words of Jesus, spoken when his family came searching for him, near the beginning of his ministry. Along with the story we’ve just heard, it suggests that his relationship with his family was complex. At twelve years old, he already recognised that his first loyalty lay with his heavenly Father. As a mature man, he turned away from the convention that the eldest son has responsibility for providing for his family, and began to build a new way of understanding family as those whose lives are shaped by God’s will.

Mothering Sunday creates the opportunity to recognise and celebrate our place within God’s family. For some, that belonging is nurtured within the kinship of human family. But even when parents and children, brothers and sisters help each other learn what it means to follow Jesus, there are always more people who are part of the mix. I was talking to someone very recently about their Sunday school teacher from years ago – a mother in the faith if ever there was one – who is now elderly and frail, and the caring role has reversed as he does what he can for her needs. If we follow Jesus, we obey his demand that we are not possessive or protective in limiting our love to those who are ‘ours’, or in demanding exclusive rights to the love of someone else. Family becomes a much bigger space as we acknowledge our place in the spider’s web of connections shaped by obedience to our God, who loves us all.

And sometimes that place can be uncomfortable and pressurised, as with any family. I wonder what Jesus and his mother said to each other on the long road back to Nazareth, after her outburst in the Temple, mingling love and fury. I’ve sat in church meetings where a church family argues out the practicalities that reflect the core of shared life and faith. It’s often the hard conversations that shape our personality and outlook on life. The love and trust of a family can create the safe space we all need to discover who we are, and who we can be, through a mixture of affirmation and challenge.

So on Mothering Sunday it is good to acknowledge all the people in whom we find the inspiration to grow into God’s likeness, and to recognise that we too may have contributed to helping others become who God made them to be. Maybe this includes our own mothers or our own children, or maybe life has gone in other directions for us. Whoever is part of our story for good, let’s give thanks for them today, remembering Jesus’ words ‘whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother’.

Prayers for God’s family

We quieten our minds and open our hearts

We come as we are to pray for God’s family.

We pray for all our children

Wide-eyed and wondering, energetic and exploring, vulnerable and struggling

Christ of the manger, receive our prayer

We pray for young people,

Persevering and passionate, unemployed and aimless,

Surly and silent, laughing and living

Christ, healer and helper, receive our prayer

We pray for all parents,

Believing and hoping, insecure and inadequate,

Watching and waiting, solitary and sorrowful, listening and loving

Christ, servant and sufferer, receive our prayer

We pray for your church,

Compassionate and caring, daunted and divided, faltering and faithless,

Staid and stagnant, vibrant and creative, warm and welcoming.

Christ, living and loving, receive our prayer.

Hymn: StF 608  All praise to our redeeming Lord

  1. All praise to our redeeming Lord,
    who joins us by his grace,
    and bids us, each to each restored,
    together seek his face.

    2. He bids us build each other up;
    and, gathered into one,
    to our high calling’s glorious hope
    we hand in hand go on.

    3. The gift which he on one bestows,
    we all delight to prove;
    the grace through every vessel flows,
    in purest streams of love.

    4. E’en now we think and speak the same,
    and cordially agree;
    concentred all, through Jesus’ name,
    in perfect harmony.

    5. We all partake the joy of one,
    the common peace we feel,
    a peace to sensual minds unknown,
    a joy unspeakable.

    6. And if our fellowship below
    in Jesus be so sweet,
    what heights of rapture shall we know
    when round his throne we meet!

Charles Wesley, 1707-1788

A blessing
May God bless you.
May you be holy and strong and creative.
May you know the joy of Jesus.
May you dance in the wildness of the Spirit’s breath.
May God’s glory continue to grow in you,
gently, powerfully, tenderly.
May you be cradled in warmth and healing.
May you be held in God’s wisdom and love.

Resources drawn from Roots on the Web; The Church of Scotland’s Weekly Worship; ‘Spring’, Ruth Burgess (ed.)