Mothers’ Union Devotion for Mary Sumner Day 9th August 2022

Lord, we thank you for the life and legacy of Mary Sumner. Awaken your spirit within us that we can be like Mary, your hands and feet to serve the needy, to encourage the values of family life that reflects the Christ within us. (Thursday 4th August MU Daily Prayer Diary)

The prayers in our prayer diary last week were written by members from Guyana and I was particularly taken with this one on Thursday as we begin to think about Mary Sumner Day on Tuesday the 9th August. We pray for the sprit within us to awaken and help us become like Mary Sumner. I wonder what form that becoming like Mary would take if we fully submitted to allow the Spirit to work within us. Would we turn into clones of this Victorian lady? Or would we become pioneering advocates for change. Because Mary was a visionary for change, social and spiritual change.

Mary’s vision was not to force all the families she worked with into the rigid model of Victorian societal conformity, instead she listened to the voice of Jesus, who alerted her to the unjust treatment of women and children in her society. She listened and acted, providing practical help and spiritual support in a non-judgemental way. So, we too, when we pray for Christ to help us encourage the values of family life, are not praying for society to conform to our often narrow views of family life rather for the wisdom to encourage families to put the love of Christ at the centre of their lives.

Jesus left us with a new commandment: ‘Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.’ It is that love which we are called to reflect and teach as Mothers’ Union members. We do that through the care we show to all, practical help as Jesus’ hands and feet in the world and spiritual guidance in the way we proclaim Christ to all whom we serve.

In a society where the majority of people have little knowledge of Jesus, let alone church life and church organisations, it is not surprising that Mothers’ Union is often seen as a club for ladies of certain age who get together to serve the refreshments. We need to claim some of Mary Sumner’s determination, insight, energy and bravery to change that view. We need to put our Christian Faith into Action, providing practical help which makes a difference alongside proclaiming the love that Jesus has for all. Love that is so strong, so unfailing that he was prepared to suffer death for each individual, regardless of their life choices.

I pray that we may all find encouragement for putting our Faith into Action as we reflect on the life of Mary Sumner on Tuesday.

With all my love and prayers,

Revd Sandra