Mother’s day is coming. Many of us are thinking about how to bless our Mums. Some of us are aching as we remember the Mums who are no longer with us. That ache is very much a part of my life, but now with the death of my Mum almost two years in the past, it has sent my thoughts into contemplating other aspects of motherhood, especially as they relate to God. Our world tends to be dominated by images of God as father, the images of the nurturing, caring God who holds us, grieves with us and laughs with us are less common. Yet today as I think about the story of God, what strikes me is how mother like God’s whole involvement with humankind is.
In the beginning God reaches down into the soil, this warm, dark, protective womb like place where life begins, sculpts and fashions humankind, breathes on us and gives birth to us. Deuteronomy 32:10-18 is one of my favourite maternal images of God – first as one who embraces us with affection and comfort, then as an eagle who hovers protectively over her eaglet as it learns to fly, and finally as one who gives us good things to eat. Sadly this passage ends with God admonishing the Israelites for forgetting this nurturing, loving, caring mother heart: You ignored the Rock who bore you and forgot the God who gave birth to you.
What is your response?
Sit quietly with your eyes closed and your hands palm upwards in your lap. Breathe deeply in and out imagining yourself sitting in God’s loving embrace. What images and feelings come to mind? When have you been most aware of the nurturing, mothering aspects of God? What is your response to the idea of God as mother?
Jesus uses the imagery of a mother hen gathering its chickens as a powerful image of God’s desire to gather the lost into a loving, protective embrace.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. You kill the prophets whom God gives you; you stone those God sends you. I have longed to gather your children the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you refuse to be gathered. (Matthew 23:37 (The Voice)
Many of Jesus parables are images of what a mother does for us:
As a mother nurtures and feeds us, God feeds us in the feeding of the 5,000.
As a mother binds up the skinned knee of her child,
God binds up our wounds in the story of the Good Samaritan.
As a mother comforts and surrounds her children with love,
So God surrounds us.
As a mother bears a child’s pain and suffers with us when we hurt
so Jesus bore our pain on the cross.
As a mother believes in and brings to fulfillment the hopes and dreams of her children,
So God believes in and nurtures our hopes and dreams.
Mothering will fill you with love,
it will break your heart.
It is the best thing in the world.
May we all remember God as our mother today.
What is your response:
Sit with your eyes closed thinking about your mother. What characteristics best describe her? Write these down. Now think of the parables of Jesus. Which of these best reflect the characteristics you wrote down? Make a list of these and write next to each on the mothering characteristics they portray. Reflect on what you have written. How does this enhance your understanding of the mother heart of God?
This is part of a series posted for Mother’s day that focuses on the mothering aspects of God. Here are the rest of the posts: Enjoy
For those who want the balance of Father images: