Mothering Sunday, 4th Sunday of Lent

Good morning,

It’s a strange Sunday morning. We are not able to meet together in our church building as we normally do because we want to keep each other safe from a virus which is wreaking havoc across the world. But, as a cartoon which has been shared on Facebook this week demonstrates, we do not all have to be gathered together in the same building to be church. God is with us wherever we are and in extraordinary times like this will certainly give us a dispensation for not meeting together!
Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent and also Mothering Sunday. 
For our Lenten cross liturgy today we place the Orb and Cross symbol on our Lenten cross.
Our Liturgy for Today:
The fourth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday. We place a Methodist Orb on the cross – a symbol that declares that the love of Christ reaches round the globe. It is for all.
John 19: 25-27
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Help us to live God as people who know that we are loved not condemned. Amen.
The Orb and Cross symbol is registered as a flag with the College of Arms under the title ‘The World Flag of Methodism’. The meaning (as taken from the Methodist Church web site is as follows:

Meaning of the Orb and Cross

The cross being in radiant form to symbolise the Glory of the risen Lord. The orb to symbolise the world.

The colours red and white are used: Red for the orb to symbolise the (Arminian) doctrine of the possibility of a universal salvation for all humanity through the power of the Holy Spirit – represented by the Whitsun colour. White for the risen Saviour of Eastertide.

The colour red is also the traditional colour of Pentecost and may be taken to symbolise the Methodist conviction that through the power of the Holy Spirit, all humanity may be saved. 
The cross, as it symbolises the risen Saviour, has no boundary to the arms of the cross, just as there are no limits to the grace of God.

Ours is a faith that addresses the deepest longings of the heart, but it is always turned outwards to the world and its needs.

The Orb and Cross in symbolic form summarises the mission and message of Methodism first set out by John Wesley: “I look upon the whole world as my parish; thus far I mean that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear the Glad Tidings of Salvation. By Grace are ye saved through Faith.” (St Mary’s, Oxford, 11 June 1738)

It is, perhaps, a reminder that we are members of a worldwide family in Christ and that does not change even if we are physically separated. It is also a reminder that we follow and worship a risen Saviour who overcame the power of sin and death at Easter. In difficult times such as these we can call upon the Holy Spirit for strength and sustenance and we can have peace in the knowledge of Christ’s promise of eternal life whatever the future may bring.
Attached is a Worship sheet for today. Remember all the Service by the Archbishop of Canterbury on BBC Radio Gloucester at 8am this morning
You might also like to hear the gospel reading from today’s lectionary read by Rev Phil Summers:
Remember also to place a candle in your window if you can (taking appropriate precautions against fire hazard as you do so) as a candle of hope and call to national prayer for the current situation
Have a good Sunday, stay safe and may God be with you

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