Word 4 Children: God is like a Mother
If you think about the positive aspects of your Mother or Grandmother:
>>>> What do you like about her?
>>>> What are you grateful for?
is an angel
helps me when I’m hurt
is angry sometimes
votes for me
is in love
is a comfort-machine
is my story
drives us around
makes a delicious lunch box
is the most beautiful woman
smells like strawberries
cannot do barbeque
has 1000 eyes
has lots of shoes
is a marshmallow
loves lots of kisses
can scream like a Hadida bird: Sound mixed between Blue Jay and Craw!
Is a Gift
In the Bible, God uses many pictures to show us how God I like: Helper, Shelter, Shepherd, Potter, King, Father, Light, Living Water, Wind, Door, Truth, Life, True Vine, Comforter, and many more…
But there are also pictures of God as Mother Eagle, Mother Hen, Mother Bear!…and Human Mother.
How do you think God is like a mother?
How does it make you feel when God is like that?
CONTEMPLATIVE SILENT PRAYER: Not using words! (NB PHYSICAL sign)
Hold your arms around you, or just hand on the heart, and just sit in the presence of GOD
SERMON : MOTHER HEART OF GOD
One of creation’s most beautiful and moving realities is the relationship between a loving mother and a child. The selfless, sacrificial love that mothers have for their children is awe-inspiring. In nature, this care, dedication, and protection are apparent. The amount of time and energy that moms spend on parenting is unbelievable. For many years kids have been dependent on their mothers’ care. For some, that is all they focus on.
We know of the enormous sacrifices many mothers make. Those who were mothers, especially those who currently have children in the house, will know how overwhelming it can be, especially when they become sick or experience other stressors. They are trying to survive with less sleep and less energy, with no me-time, so that the children can be healthy and safe.
But we also know that mothers (as fathers) are fragile and imperfect. We know very well, as parents, of the many mistakes we made. We were impatient, made wrong decisions, regretted some words used in frustration or anger, and things we should not have done. Unfortunately, some mothers were absent and self-centered. Even some neglected their children, against the grain of a mother’s instinct.
In the depth of our being, we ache and long for nurturing, safety, intimacy, and protection. No wonder when believers found nurturing, safety, intimacy, and protection in GOD, they used feminine metaphors and metaphors of motherhood. God’s selfless love, intimate care, protection, and compassion are aspects of the Heart of God. The Mother HEART of GOD.
The Hebrew word for compassionate is “rakhum.” The word is related to the Hebrew word “rekhem,” which means womb in English. The latter word is the picture of a mother’s strong emotions for her tender child. Therefore, compassion in Hebrew is centered on a person’s core and conveys intense feelings. Sometimes, it is even translated as “deeply moved.”
In the passage, we see the image of God as a Mother. If you want to know how God is, God is like a mother: “As a mother comforts her child, so will I [God] comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” (Isa. 66:13)
Isaiah seems to be fond of painting God as an actual human mother. Isaiah 42:14 uses the image of God as a woman in labor: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”
In Deuteronomy 32:18, a God who gives birth: “You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
Isaiah 49:15 refers to God as a nursing mother: “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 in Hosea 11:3-4, the MOTHER HEART of God is apparent: “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I who took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.”
There are some instances in the Psalms as well:
– Psalm 131:2 God as a Mother “But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.”
– Psalm 123:2-3, God compared to a woman “As the eyes of a servant looks to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to you, YHWH until you show us your mercy!”
There are some fascinating references to God as a Mother Bird or Mother Bear:
Deuteronomy 32:11-12, God is described as a mother eagle: “Like the eagle that stirs up its nest, and hovers over its young, God spreads wings to catch you, and carries you on pinions.”
One of the common images is God as a mother bird sheltering her children under her wings. We see this in Ruth 2:12 – “May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” (All references are from Today’s New International Version.) The Psalms used this imagery several times:
Much like in Psa. 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”
“… I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed.” (Psa. 57:1)
“God will cover you with Gods’ feathers, and under your wings, I will find refuge …” (Psa. 91:4)
Jesus picks up these images when he laments over Jerusalem, portraying God as a Mother Hen: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34)
Before we claim that the Bible only reinforces stereotypes of motherly warmth and care with these images of God, check out Hosea 13:8 – “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and rip them open,” says the Lord. Here, we see that the maternal instinct to protect the children can produce wrath as much as warmth. Beware the fury of a mother! No sentimental mother image here.
All these images and others in the Bible paint God as a present, loving, nurturing, compassionate, protecting, and sheltering God for his people.
These female metaphors reveal the essential characteristics of GOD‘s being.
The fact that we belong to God as a child and belongs to a mother is a transparent image of God’s deep connection with us. Even despite our disobedience and the disappointment we inflict on God.
God’s deepest being is touched by who we are and what we do. God’s heart and deepest essence are stirred because God loves us. This is God’s mercy.
God unites Godself with us and protects us. As the Isaiah text states, God is deeply dedicated to our growth and development. The bottom line is that God sacrifices Godself for us!
Something True About God
Mother’s Day is as appropriate as any occasion to recapture the biblical maternal images for God to help us see further truths about God. “People described God in feminine terms, not because God is actually a woman, but because feminine or maternal traits say something true about God and about their experience with God.” (Japinga, Feminism and Christianity, p. 66) The same must be said of masculine and paternal images of God. We must not confuse these metaphors with God’s reality.
I want your invite now for a moment just you close your eyes make and not too experience which effect it’s on you if you give space to God in Whose hands you like a baby in addiction your surrender to God and entrusted. In God’s Intimate love, can you rest
Spirit is beyond male and female, transcending and including the male and female.
However, it is true that despite these maternal images, the Bible never called God “mother.” It is not surprising that the ancient Hebrews used masculine pronouns for God in an ancient patriarchal culture. But I don’t think that suggests that God has the male gender.
According to the Hebrew scholar Samuel Terrien, the ancient Hebrews never called God “Mother” because “they reacted against the allurement of the Mother Goddess cults. According to Terrien, ancient mother goddess worship, unlike certain modern-day revivals, was never about empowering or glorifying women. It was about fertility, prosperity, sexuality, survival, health, and death. These religions used religious rituals that involved sexuality, even temple prostitutes, and other forms of religious ecstasy to get economic security (agriculture and fertility).
For some Christians, it is very difficult to think about God in female terms. Over the years, we were bombed with male imagery and metaphors. Some societies saw the feminine as weaker, or even worse, less valuable than men! Because they only had images of power for God, they could not accept feminine images of God.
I know many Christians are uneasy with using feminine images for God. But using female metaphors for God is not a radical feminist innovation, as the biblical passages above show.
It is also part of early Christian history. Here, I refer again to Japinga: In the second century, Clement of Alexandria mixed his metaphors in his description of Christians nursing at the breast of God the Father. Medieval mystic Meister Eckhart described God’s activity: “What does God do all day long? God gives birth. From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth.” (Feminism and Christianity, p. 65)
Although the Bible mostly speaks about God in masculine terms, God is beyond gender. The gender pronouns are simply metaphors to help us understand God, who is always beyond our full understanding. As theologian Lynn Japinga wrote, “Language about God should help us to understand and encounter God, but we should not confuse the reality of God with the limits of our language.” (Feminism and Christianity: An Essential Guide, Abingdon: 1999, p. 64)
It is extremely important to note that all words about God are metaphors! We can not fully and completely describe GOD with words. That is why the Bible is so rich in images about GOD:
Old Testament: Images of God in the OT are those of Creator, King, I am, Helper, Judge, Rock, Mighty, Shepherd, Host(Psalm 23 second half), Wonderful Counselor, Potter, Deliverer, and many more
Also, in New Testament, there are so many different pictures of GOD:
In the Gospel of John alone, there are a variety of metaphors: (Notice how many of them are beyond gender!) Light, Lamb, Living Water, Fountain of Life, Breath, Wind, Bread of Life, Door, Way, Truth, Life, True Vine, Comforter, Good Shepherd, Savior, Redeemer,…
It is critical to your faith not to grasp on to a few images of God alone. That is extremely limiting!!! I can’t stress this truth more. If the only way you see God is as a Father, you are missing out on so many essential aspects of the Heart of God! Even aspects of God that go beyond personal images…!
Take the word “Life” as an image of God. If you can experience God as “life,” you could feel God’s presence in the life in your body. The same with life in nature! Life in your hands!
God is not always opposite you, like in other metaphors, but also a fountain in you. The Breath in you!
No words can fully describe God: Take an image of a CIRCLE: Every metaphor of God
illuminates only a tiny part of Who God is. Nobody can get a complete impression of Who God is.
PROCESS>>> INCLUDE AND TRANSCEND!!!! INCLUDE AND TRANSCEND!
God is always more immense, more beautiful, more wonderful, and more loving than you ever can imagine.
That’s why Isa 40:18 With which image can do you compare God? With which image can you Him equate? To God, is limited to one or two pictures is a form of idolatry!
All of our words about God are limited. It must be stated with humility. Some people pretend or think that only they have the truth about God.
However, if we allow space for the mystery of GOD, not available to our reason, your whole life becomes an adventure to explore and discover different aspects of God. The experience of God on all levels of being is our quest: experiencing God with the mind, heart, soul, and all my strength(body). The encounter with God is all levels of being! That is what it means to of which become go deeper. Spiritual growth does not have an upwards trajectory but downwards!
SOMETIMES people oversimplify the image of God to make God more “manageable” and “controllable.” Primarily, of course, with the intent to manipulate others.
A Japanese author speaks of the Cross with a handle. God with a handle so that God is smaller and controllable so that we can carry God all around.
This is, for me, a critical part of our faith. Most of the terrible damage the church has done over the ages was because of the limited understanding of who God is.
One aspect seriously lacking is embracing God’s feminine, a maternal mystery full of compassion, love, kindness, kindness, and caring.
The first impact of an enlarged image of God is that you relate differently with God. Concepts such as intimate love, compassion, care, and presence become a greater reality. It may be that the feeling of distance between you and God disappears as you embrace the Mother Heart of God. Or accept that you are welcomed into the Mother Heart of God. Deep peace and inner security arise. It is a form of security that is not rooted in yourself but is seated in the Motherhood of Godself.
When you accept and integrate a new image of God, life changes radically (to the root)! As you receive more compassion, grace, and mercy, you show that to yourself and others!
With the launch of the movie “The Shack,” one of the lead characters in the book is a black woman named Papa, who plays the role of God the Father. “I am neither male nor female,” Papa self-discloses in the novel, “even though both genders are derived from my nature. For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning. If I choose to appear to you as a man or woman, it’s because I love you.”
God with a mother’s heart,
You gather us as your children.
You comfort and hold us in your warm embrace.
When we hurt your arms enfold us.
When we are afraid your wings protect us.
When we are hungry you feed us with the bread of life.
God with a mother’s heart,
Your love surrounds and supports us,
In good times and in tough,
In the midst of joy and pain,
Always and everywhere.
You will never leave nor abandon us.
God eternal and loving one,
God with a mother’s heart,
We thank you this day,
For being part of your family. (prayer by Christine Sine)
Hear us. O Lord. As we pray for…
Lord, on this day set aside to honor and remember mothers, we give you thanks for our mothers. We are grateful that you chose to give us life through them, and that they received the gift of life from your hands, and gave it to us.
We thank you for the women who raised us, who were our mothers in childhood. Whether birth mom, adopted mom, older sister, aunt, grandmother, stepmother or someone else, we thank you for those women who held us and fed us, who cared for us and kissed away our pain. We pray that our lives may reflect the love they showed us, and that they would be pleased to be called our moms.
We pray for older moms whose children are grown.
Grant them joy and satisfaction for a job well done.
We pray for new moms experiencing changes they could not predict.
Grant them rest and peace as they trust you for the future.
We pray for pregnant women who will soon be moms.
Grant them patience and good counsel in the coming months.
We pray for moms who face the demands of single parenthood.
Grant them strength and wisdom.
We pray for moms who enjoy financial abundance.
Grant them time to share with their families.
We pray for moms who are raising their children in poverty.
Grant them relief and justice.
We pray for step-moms.
Grant them patience and understanding and love.
We pray for moms who are separated from their children.
Grant them faith and hope.
We pray for moms in marriages that are in crisis.
Grant them support and insight.
We pray for moms who have lost children.
Grant them comfort in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We pray for mothers who aborted their children.
Grant them healing and peace.
We pray for moms who gave up their children for adoption.
Grant them peace and confidence as they trust in your providence.
We pray for adoptive mothers.
Grant them joy and gratitude for the gift you have provided.
We pray for girls and women who think about being moms.
Grant them wisdom and discernment.
We pray for women who desperately want, or wanted, to be moms.
Grant them grace to accept your timing and will.
We pray for all women who have assumed the mother’s role in a child’s life.
Grant them joy and the appreciation of others.
We pray for those people who are grieving the loss of their mother.
Grant them comfort and hope in Christ’s resurrection.
Hear us O Lord as we pray as Jesus taught us, saying in one voice: