Monday, May 20, 2013

a communion meditation: Our Mother God

On Mother's Day, my daughters and I took a trip out to West Islip Church of Christ to visit dear friends there we had not seen in waaaaaaaay too long. West Islip is a special place for me. It is the first church ever to welcome me to the pulpit--an honest to God pulpit, up on a little elevated dais and everything--and they have done the same, and much much more, for many other women as well.

So when asked if I'd be willing to share a meditation for communion, I accepted, with joy.

me and my daughter Clare (peeking over the pulpit)

Our Mother God

delivered on May 12, 2013 at West Islip Church of Christ

Mother's Day is a day rife with the possibility of homiletical missteps. All week long I've been watching the preachers I follow on twitter post and converse about "how not to preach on Mother's Day." There are lots of pitfalls to avoid, among them, I was happy to see, an acknowledgment not only that not all women are mothers, but that being a woman doesn't mean that you want to be a mother if you aren't, or that somehow having a womb means you are "meant" to be a mother.

Even happier was I when I saw this post, which suggests that perhaps we ought to--as we often do, I'll note, on Father's Day--make the move into considering what the image of God as mother might teach us about God.

This post offered as illustration of what we learn about "God as mother" a touching story told by two daughters of an act of extraordinary self-sacrificial love from their mother; one which saved their lives and the life of their little brother. (You can see the video at the original post above.) In short, this mother literally threw herself in the path of the SUV about to plunge her children over a cliff. This act saved their lives and broke her back. And in this we see an echo of the kind of self-sacrificial love God offers us, as her children, on the cross. Greater love has no one than this...

And as I pondered this image this week, I had two thoughts: yes, and no.

Yes: being a mother myself, I can imagine that without hesitation I would throw myself in the path of an oncoming vehicle in order to save my children. Yes.

But--as I pondered this all week long, in the midst of feeding and clothing and ferrying and nursing and putting to bed and hugging and kissing, there were two things that began to bother me.

My husband would throw himself in front of a car to save our kids. Their grandparents would, I'm sure, and their aunts and uncles and, possibly, even a stranger, if it was the right kind of stranger.

This kind of self-sacrificial love isn't the exclusive property of mothers. Are we not all called, as followers of Christ, to aspire to the kind of love exemplified in his life and death? Greater love has no one than this, that they lay down their lives for their friends. And this is how the world shall know us, by our love for each other.

And finally, the kind of extraordinary self-sacrificial love exemplified in the horrible but heroic story of this one amazing mother, is not in the end the experience that defines mothering--at least not for me. Rather, it's the day-in, day-out presence with and joy in my children: the wonder that strikes me at the oddest, most mundane moments that these little people exist, to watch in amazement as they grow and become who they are. The way that my daughter's pride in another 10/10 on a spelling test and a comment from a teacher on her incredible gift for math makes her eyes light up. The way that a new word from baby Z makes me laugh out loud. 

When I think of God as mother, I imagine her watching us with glowing eyes, cheering us on as we struggle toward greater love and understanding, immeasurably proud and happy, just that we exist, as her children.

I invite you now to the table of fellowship, as God's children: children who are loved, day in and day out, by our Mother God, whose love is sacrificial, yes--and also, constantly joyful in our existence.

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