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Monday, May 04, 2009
Margie’s preaching this Sunday, May 10. It’s Mother’s Day and she’s chosen texts that fit the day—Proverbs 23:22-25 and I John 4:7-12. I’m not going to comment on them. You can look them up and read them, if you want. We have a great variety of experiences with mothers—some good, some not so good. And, of course, not everyone is a mother, not even every woman—and there are varieties of mothering arrangements—adoptive, step, and others. I think Margie’s emphasis will be upon the fact that we all had a mother—but even within that assertion there is great variety. Some never knew their biological mothers. Some were abused. So, what does it mean to be a good mother or father, and, how does our understanding of mother or father inform our understanding and experience of God, and vice-versa? The God most of us have heard about has been depicted as a father, sometimes stern, sometimes compassionate and loving. Many of us have become aware that, when someone has been the victim of a violent and brutal father, describing God as a father is not helpful. Most of us, I imagine, have moved beyond seeing God only in male terms. God is beyond male and female, yet those images are part of the way we understand relationships. Some of us have come to appreciate images of God drawn from the feminine side of humanity, but to call God “mother” doesn’t help if our experience of mother has been less than positive. What positive images can the “feminine” bring to our understanding of God? There are a number of scriptures that picture God as a mother. Here are some of them that may help further the discussion: In Isaiah 66:13, God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” And again in Isaiah 49:15, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” And my favorite, Jesus, through whose life and teaching we see God, says of the people of Jerusalem, in Luke 13:34, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!” These speak of the comforting, nurturing, compassionate aspect of the best of motherhood to remind us that God is, indeed, Love, as state in I John 1:8, part of one of Margie’s texts for Sunday. Mothers (and fathers) also providing strong role models, teaching curiosity, encouraging creativity and self-development, demonstrating justice and reconciliation, and on and on—enough for several blogs. Are they not all expressions of love? Finally, coming at the whole subject from the opposite direction, we might ask how biblical, and other, descriptions of God as mother or father can and/or do inform our understanding of what it means to be a good parent? If we truly experience God as Love at work in our lives, can that not guide us in our mothering and fathering and all other types of relating and relationship?

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Kairos-Milwaukie UCC Blog

Reflections on the Revised Common Lectionary by Rev. Rick Skidmore and Rev. Jim Ogden.

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