Mothers’ Day (Yesterday)

Photo by maaco

Mothers’ day yesterday was a double disappointment. It was not that the children forgot to celebrate Barbara, they remembered :) It was not that the service failed to include women who are not mothers, it did include them. But I still had two frustrations.

One was personal, but shared with huge numbers of others in this modern rich world, where so many people live so long. On Fathers’ Day, since my Dad is dead, I can remember his life and celebrate the person he was. But on Mothers’ Day, my Mum is still alive, except she has no memories, of me or of her own life, she is not my mum, and she thinks of me when I visit the UK as a nice man who comes (each day anew) to see her. That pseudo-life can’t be celebrated, yet it seems wrong to remember her as if she were dead…

The other is general, but shared (it seems) by very few. Surely, at the very least on this day of the year, beyond all others, we could talk in church a little (in our prayers and Bible readings if not in our sermon) of the motherly God we meet in Scripture and in the traditions of the Christian church. But no, it seemed that the intention to exclude all feminine language about God is held to equally rigorously even on Mothers’ Day :(

I wish, I really wish, more people would read Not only a Father, and if they disagree comment – or if they agree then make more use in public of the resources Scripture and tradition have provided us!

4 comments on “Mothers’ Day (Yesterday)

  1. Bob MacDonald

    You would have loved today’s reading of Genesis – bereshit signifying the head appearing at birth, the waters dividing another image of birth, and the sabbath, the post-partem getting to know you time. I don’t know if there is anything online – but the contact is Pamela H. Miles – triads of Leviticus and of Genesis. SBL NW Regional meeting UVIC 2010.

  2. tim

    It certainly sounds interesting, though I’d be thinking more in terms of Ps 90, and Is 40ff… and other more explicite ascriptions of motherly attributes to God. Or Anselm’s lovely prayer to St Paul (that talks of Christ as mother) or the Syriac baptismal imagery that speaks of the Spirit as mother… (Thoroughly Triniarian motherhood ;)

  3. Jody

    Hi Tim, thanks for your comments. I had read and given this some thought, then someone from church emailed me about it so I decided I would not just think but would respond! You are someone who has always encouraged me to think about the importance of using gendered language for God, vs my own inclination which is leave gender out of it entirely. But the problem is, some things I don’t like to discuss because I want to avoid giving them the power of a discussion. If I say on Mother’s day: “God is not an old man with a flowing white beard, look, we can call God Mother too!” I’ve given old man God some credibility. (Incidentally, nothing winds me up like an atheist talking about God as “he”!!) Anyway, that’s just me explaining why I am wary of God as Mother on Mother’s day, but that said last year I preached a whole sermon on the subject, and of course mentioned you Tim :)

  4. tim

    Jody, thanks for a thought provoking comment :) I wonder if our different contexts impact on how we see it?

    You are a pastor (so have considerable influence on what happens week by week in church) who tries to avoid masculine/male language for God – in order better to reflect God’s nature.

    My week by week experience of church (both at BBC and most other local NZ Baptist churches I visit) and college is one where masculine/male language is the norm. And it is normal even on the lips of those of us who realise that such language does not (as it is usually understood at least) reflect the reality of God.