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14th March 2021 - Mother's Day


Traditionally the Salvation Army considers the Month of March as ‘Self Denial’ Month, when its members and friends give a monetary gift to support the Salvation Army’s Missionary work all over the World. (The ‘Big Collection’ is the appeal to the general public for monetary support for Salvation Army social work in the UK only.)

To show you how your money will be used and how much it is needed, for the next 5 weeks we are posting five different videos which have been produced by the Salvation Army and which show some of the projects currently ongoing in the Missionary field. During the month you will be receiving a Self Denial gift envelope – please give some thought to what you are able to donate to the Salvation Army’s vital work overseas to help the many people who are not as fortunate as we are.

Don’t forget to have a look at the videos!


God bless you

As well as being Mothering Sunday, today is the fourth Sunday in Lent. At Bradford Citadel during these Sundays we are focussing on the words of Jesus from The Cross, based on a book entitled Living Faith by Krish Kandiah. Very appropriately today we are looking at Jesus’ concern for his mother and for the disciple John.

John 19 vv 25 – 27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Lord God, thank You for the families you have placed us in, and for those who love, support, encourage and care for us. Thank You for Your loving care too, Father, and for adopting us as Your children. Despite the mess we were in, You welcomed us into Your family. Please give us open hearts to all You have to say to us today. Amen.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Yours is the Kingdom, the power and the glory for ever and ever, Amen.


In the National Gallery in London there is a lovely painting by Correggio called The Madonna of the Basket. Jesus is pictured at about eighteen months old, sitting on the lap of Mary his mother. Between them they are trying to get Jesus’ arms into the sleeves of a jumper Mary has just finished knitting; you can see the remains of the same colour wool in the basket beside Mary’s chair.

What makes the picture in a class of its own is the big grin on Mary’s face as she tries the jumper on her little boy, and the genuine struggle of the little boy to get the hang of these sleeves. Only we, so long afterwards, know what his outstretched arms left and right might foretell.

We tend to forget that Jesus our Saviour had a mother just as we ourselves have, or had, and she had all the everyday struggles that every mother has. There is even an old tradition that, when Jesus rose from the dead, he went first to console and reassure his mother before ever he went to Mary Magdalene or the other disciples.

In a courtroom trial in South Africa, a frail black woman rises slowly to her feet. She is something over 70 years of age. Facing across the room are several white security police officers, one of whom, Mr van der Broek, has just been tried and found implicated in the murders of both the woman’s son and her husband some years before. He had come to the woman’s home, taken her son, shot him at point blank range and then set the young man’s body on fire while he and his officers partied nearby.

Several years later, van der Broek and his cohorts had returned to take away her husband as well. For many months she heard nothing of his whereabouts. Then almost two years after her husband’s disappearance, van der Broek came back to fetch the woman herself. How vividly she remembers that evening, going to a place beside the river where she was shown her husband, bound and beaten, but still strong in spirit, lying on a pile of wood. The last words she heard from his lips as the officers poured gasoline over his body and set him aflame were, ‘Father forgive them…’

Now the woman stands in the courtroom and listens to the confessions offered by Mr van der Broek. A member of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission turns to her and asks, ‘So what do you want? How should justice be done to this man who has so brutally destroyed your family?’

‘I want three things,’ begins the old woman calmly, but confidently. ‘I want first to be taken to the place where my husband’s body was burned so that I can gather up the dust and give his remains a decent burial.’ She pauses, then continues. ‘My husband and son were my only family. I want secondly, therefore, for Mr van der Broek to become my son. I would like for him to come twice a month to the ghetto and spend a day with me so that I can pour out on him whatever love I still have remaining in me. ‘And finally,’ she says, ‘I want a third thing. This is also the wish of my husband. And so, I would kindly ask someone to come to my side and lead me across the courtroom so that I can take Mr van der Broek in my arms and embrace him and let him know that he is truly forgiven.’ As the court assistants came to lead the elderly woman across the room, Mr van der Broek, overwhelmed by what he had just heard, faints. As he does, those in the courtroom, family, friends, neighbours – all victims of decades of oppression and injustice – begin to sing, softly but assuredly, ‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.’

John 19 vv 25 – 27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Reflecting on these verses, Christian writer Adrian Plass comments : “I glimpsed the amazing truth that the Jesus who produced cosmic truths, dire warning and spiritual bombshells, and the Jesus who remembered his mother’s welfare at the time of his greatest agony, were one and the same person. For the first time in my life I felt that my individuality – my sense of self – was safe in the hands of God. We are not just units in the salvation package, but warm, complex, needy human beings, who are known, loved and cared for by him in special, separate ways.”

Adrian Plass then adds this prayer : “Lord Jesus, when you spoke to your mother from the Cross, you didn’t say, ‘My grace is sufficient for you – good luck, see you in heaven.’ You gave her a flesh and blood person to look after her and be a son to her in your place. Lord, some of us are feeling very lost and insignificant in the Church. We need to know that, as well as saving the universe, you care for us individually. We don’t mind how that happens, but if there’s a person who could offer us a relationship that you would bless and approve, don’t let our fears and inhibitions get in the way, please. I see you on the Cross now in my mind’s eye. You are in great pain, but when you catch sight of me your expression lightens for a moment. You will never leave me or forsake me, but there is something practical I need to do in the meantime. Your voice is weak with pain so I must listen very hard to hear what you are saying…..”

“Part of the work of Jesus the great High Priest is to create a new fellowship of the redeemed, and to unite human beings one with another by virtue of their common loyalty to Himself. So while He hangs on the Cross He bids His mother and the beloved disciple find in their attachment to Himself the basis of a new spiritual relationship to one another. Beneath the Cross Christian fellowship is born, a fellowship wholly different from all purely human fellowship based on natural kinship, mutual sympathy or a common outlook upon human affairs. The great and distinctive characteristic on this new fellowship is that all who enjoy it are drawn to one another by the consciousness that they are all brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.

Randolph Tasker

Considering the 4 women who stood at the Cross (and especially Mary, the mother of Jesus), William Barclay wrote this : It is always a dangerous thing to be an associate of a man whom the Roman government believed to be so dangerous that he deserved a Cross. It is always a dangerous thing to demonstrate one’s love for someone whom the orthodox regard as a heretic. The presence of these women at the Cross was not due to the fact they were so unimportant that no one would notice them; their presence was due to the fact that perfect love casts out fear.

Consider Mary, Jesus’ mother. Maybe she could not understand, but she could love. Her presence there was the most natural thing in the world for a mother. Jesus might be a criminal in the eyes of the law, be he was her son.

As Kipling had it :

If I were hanged on the highest hill

I know whose love would follow me still,

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

I know whose tears would come down to me,

If I were damned of body and soul,

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine.

The eternal love of motherhood is in Mary at the Cross.

But in this passage there is something which is surely one of the loveliest things in all the gospel story. When Jesus saw his mother, he could not but think of the days ahead. He could not commit her to the care of his brothers, for they did not believe in him yet (John 7:5). And, after all, John had a double qualification for the service Jesus entrusted to him – he was Jesus’ cousin, being Salome’s son, and he was the disciple whom Jesus loved. So Jesus committed Mary to John’s care and John to Mary’s, so that they should comfort each other’s loneliness when he was gone.

There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus, in the agony of the Cross, when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of his mother in the days ahead. He never forgot the duties that lay to his hand. He was Mary’s eldest son, and even in the moment of his cosmic battle, he did not forget the simple things that lay near home. To the end of the day, even on the Cross, Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows of others than of his own.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff — they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Closing prayer : May the peace of the Lord,

and the love of God,

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

come down on you,

and remain with you forever.



Thank you for reading

Prepared by Major Paul M

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Thank you Major Paul for your challenging yet comforting message today.

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