God, Our Mother
Mother’s Day can be both a great day…and a difficult day. The church has too often only celebrated and honored the prototypical mother: a female with living, biological children. Last year at Hood, we celebrated every kind of mother: biological, foster, adoptive, pregnant, deceased, soon-to-be, step-mothers, mentor mothers, mothers who have had miscarriages…you get the idea. And we will do that again this year. (In fact, don’t forget to bring a picture of one or more mother figures in your life to church this Sunday – we will use the pictures in the service!)
I hope you will also celebrate another mother in your life: God. Yeah, I know, God is our Father, so the Bible says. But actually there are plenty of great feminine images of God in the Bible from which we draw to speak of Mother God. In fact, the very first verses of the Bible speak of God’s Spirit in feminine language. The Hebrew is ruach and it is a feminine word for wind, breath, spirit.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit (ruach) of God was hovering over the waters.
The Bible often speaks of God through birthing and nursing images, God as having a womb, and in metaphors comparing God to animal mothers (example, a mother eagle, Deuteronomy 32:11-12; a mother hen, Luke 13: 34 & Matt 23:37). We could talk all day about the images of God as mother in the Bible.
I hope you will seriously consider all the ways the Bible speaks of God as a mother. And celebrate God as an amazing mom who gave birth to you, who adopted you, who nurtures you everyday, who reaches out to you through the loving compassion that only a mother has for her child. It is a powerful image which the church often forgets…or maybe just ignores.
As Christian mystic and theologian Julian of Norwich said centuries ago,
As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.
God is both mother and father. God both transcends these gendered categories and yet God also works through them. After all if everyone of us – male and female – are made in the image of God, then surely the wholeness of God includes both male and female, both father and mother.
And claiming this mothering image of God can be healing for so many in our community: people who really need the nurture of a mother right now or people who may struggle with calling God father because the only father they know is an abusive earthly father. Might there even be something beautiful, healing, comforting and inspiring for you right now by claiming God as your mother?
I leave you with a short piece by blogger Amy Young titled The Wide Spectrum of Mothering. If you read closely and reflect, I think you will recognize God’s incarnational presence within the lives of these many different mothers, many of which I feel sure are represented within your circle of family and friends.
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
To those who placed children up for adoption — we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
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