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Why Lady Day is important to Mothers' Union
Lady Day is an important day for Mothers' Union members around the world
Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth
to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
“I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Luke 1: 30-31, 38
I wonder how many of us are aware that Mothers’ Union’s observance of Lady Day is actually part of our constitution? (That is, as a recommendation rather than an edict!) In fact Lady Day - the Feast of the Annunciation - has been a significant day for Mothers’ Union since 1897.
The updating of our Mothers’ Union Constitution, making it fit for 21st century purpose, has kept in full the statement in no.13 of the Regulations made under the Bye-Laws. This says that the Feast of the Annunciation may be observed annually as a special day of prayer and thanksgiving for Mothers’ Union.
Although the idea to celebrate Lady Day was first suggested to the Mothers' Union in 1895 at the annual committee of presidents and agreed to by Central Council in 1897 it took some time to be adopted across the membership. At a Central Council meeting in 1902 the President of St David's Diocese plaintively asked how to surmount the difficulty of obtaining due observane of the day. In the same year however, it was reported that the day was celebrated as far afield as Armagh, Antananarivo and Sydney. In the 1909 annual report it was declated that in the past year the Feast of Annunciation had almost universally been recognised as a great day of intercession and thanksgiving. Of equal significance was that 'many bishops' had held special services in their cathedrals to mark the day.
Fast forward to today and we find that across the 84 counties where Mothers' Union is represented, Lady Day is celebrated in many and varied ways. Thanksgiving Services are widely held, which often include the enrolment of new members. Creative way of celebration may involve drama and games - as in West Ankole, Uganda, whilst events for Lady Day in Mandalay in Myanmar have included a quiz about Mary and a competition about the Mothers' Union prayer. The Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham have held contemporary Lady Day celebrations during which wonderful prayer activities have been enjoyed by children and adults together (some of which have used chocolate - a sure winner!)
Some ways in which Mothers’ Union relates to the story of the annunciation:
- Family life– we look to provide Christian care for families worldwide and this includes initiatives to support the role of parents and carers. We deliver parenting programmes, and development, policy and faith work that empowers women and men in their parenting and life in general. Our faith in the family emphasis encourages families to experience together the love of Christ; the One whose coming is heralded on Lady Day.
- Faith – through our fellowship together and our faith and worship resources we nurture our relationship with God; we cultivate our prayer life and strengthen our willingness to follow our Lord, just as Mary was willing to obey his call.
- Vocation and service– the annunciation was about listening and responding to God; the result of which has had consequences for all, in every aspect of life. As Mothers’ Union we seek to care for people’s physical, social and spiritual needs. At this time we are particularly seeking to listen to God through our global listening process, MULOA, in order to respond to his plans for our service going forward; as we continue to reach out as Christ’s hands across the world.
- Vision – Mary’s faith and obedience affected all generations throughout the world. The faith and obedience of our founder, Mary Sumner, has led to Mothers’ Union sharing the love of God’s son, Jesus Christ for generations, throughout the world. We pray that in our day we, too, will be willing to follow God in obedience and faith, with thanksgiving and praise; and that our souls will always magnify the Lord.