Mother’s day can be an emotive day for us. It can cause us to think back to fond memories of our own mother’s or joyful times with our own children. But it can also bring up difficult feelings. Mother’s day can heighten the feelings that surround the loss of your mother, having an empty nest, having estranged children, difficulties conceiving, difficulties raising children, the struggle to put a child up for adoption, the struggle to adopt, the loss of a child, a miscarriage,and so much more. We acknowledge that not everyone had the relationship with their mother that they had wanted, that not every mother has the relationship with their children that she wants, and that not everyone who wanted to be a mother has become one.
When we say things like this on Father’s day the natural transition is to say something like, even if you never had the relationship you wanted with your earthly father you can always have a great relationship with your heavenly father. But what do we say on Mother’s Day?
While it is true that the vast, vast majority of texts in the bible speak about God with masculine imagery. It is also true that there are a handful of texts that speak about God using feminine imagery, primarily using mothering metaphors. Jesus describes God as a woman searching for a lost coin, and himself as a mother hen wanting to gather her chicks. Isaiah compares God to a nursing mother, a comforting mother, and even a mother in labor.
Hosea 11 is the single longest passage that compares God’s guiding and leading of Israel to a mother raising a child. The verse I like the most is, ‘When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me’ When I read this I cannot help but picture a mother walking hand in hand with a young child.
Hand holding is a staple parental behaviour, We want to guide our children out of harm’s way and into places of safety.Simeon is fairly willing to walk along with me holding my hand or at least walk within arms reach when I need him too.
Ariella on the other hand if you ask her to go right she will go left giggling all the way. If you ask her to go to the van she will start running across the lawn. If you want to take her to the bathroom, she dashes for the living room. It seems like whatever direction we want her to go she has made a game out of running the opposite way.
If her laugh wasn’t so darn cute I am sure we would be much more annoyed by her behaviour. The scary thing is she has had a few mildly serious spills and gotten far too close to roads filled with rushing cars. Thankfully she still is small enough to carry and slow enough to catch.
I love the idea of walking hand in hand with God being cared for, nurtured and guided. God taking us places that are good for us to be, while at the same time protecting us from the harm that may befall us. Lovingly walking hand in hand is the heart we find so naturally in mothers. And that is the heart that I want to develop within myself, and within my congregation.
On Mother’s Day we stop to honour and celebrate mother’s for all the wonderful things that they do. But I am hoping that we will do more than that. I hope we will also pause to remember God, who shaped, created, and even models the mother’s heart.
This post is a much altered version of my Mother’s Day sermon.
You can hear the full version here.