The Fourth Sunday in Lent was called ‘Mid-Lent’ or ‘Refreshment Sunday’, when the rigors of Lent were relaxed more than was normal for a feast day. It is called Mothering Sunday as a reference to the Epistle reading for the Day (Galatians 4:21-31).  The Lenten Epistles follow from each other with teaching about our life as Christians and how we are to follow Christ.  

On Mid-Lent Sunday the Epistle talks of bondage and freedom; the bondage of the Law and the Old Covenant as compared to the freedom in Christ, “the promised one”, and the New Covenant. Verse 26 reads “But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”  We gain our freedom from Christ and, as it was seen before the Reformation, the Church.

Thus, Mothering Sunday is about the freedom that we gain through the promise of Jesus Christ delivered through our Mother the Church.  People were encouraged to go to their ‘Mother Church’ (their home church or their home Cathedral) to worship and give thanks.  Hence apprentices, and others, went home for the weekend and often brought gifts (or accumulated pay) home to their family. 

On the other hand, Mother’s Day is a secular festival invented in 1904 and is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday in May in most countries in the world.  The UK seems to be the exception. In recent years Mothering Sunday has been hijacked to take the place of a special, secular day to give thanks for our mothers.

Source : Parish Pump