Sunday, 22 March 2009

Works of Art

Ephesians 2:4-10
God loved us with so much love that he was generous with his mercy: when we were dead through our sins, he brought us to life with Christ – it is through grace that you have been saved – and raised us up with him and gave us a place with him in heaven, in Christ Jesus.
This was to show for all ages to come, through his goodness towards us in Christ Jesus, how infinitely rich he is in grace. Because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God; not by anything that you have done, so that nobody can claim the credit. We are God’s work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live it.

Today is Mothering Sunday - the time when Christians are meant to take the opportunity to thank the Church for caring for us and for everyone to thank their own mothers for doing the same. And I know that we now are wise enough to include nans, aunties, carers, teachers and even male relatives who try to fulfil the role but I would like to talk about mothers.

And this is going to sound really negative on such a day for celebration, and with a mother who deserves more than I could ever give her, but... what if our mother doesn't care for us?

What about the people sitting in congregations, walking past card shops, sitting through adverts on the TV that proclaim and celebrate the wonder of mothers whilst they wonder ' Why not mine?'

For a million reasons, and I won't go into details - life affects us all personally - mothers aren' t always who they are meant to be - they are not caring, not supportive, not loving. What if they don't protect us, nurture us and what if they don't give us the confidence to become strong independent people ourselves? What then?

Psychologists tell us that our first image of God is drawn by how our parents cared for us; loving parents - loving God, punishing parents - punishing God. Happy children grow up happy; tormented children....

And yet Jesus give us this parent model as his best imagining of the God that sent him - and teaches us to pray 'Our Father'. And in some ways that is an easy way to see God - as a Father, someone in authority, something of a teacher, a disciplinarian, fun but practical.

But God the Mother? Well in the early words of the Old Testament, God is often portrayed as a chicken - a mother hen protecting and caring for her brood. And God does have many maternal qualities, she loves blindly and inexcusably, she lets all your friends in and feeds them, she forgives everything you do if you say you're sorry, she defends you and gives you chance after chance, she waits while you are doing 'other things' with your life and then is there when you need her.

She has dreamed you, and made you and carried you and she looks on you, as Paul says, as a work of art; no matter what anyone says, the mother's eye of God sees only the good and the beautiful in you and she loves you.

And that is why we need a God the Mother,
to be a bigger mother than any human mother,
to be a mother to the mothers,
to be a mother to the women who can't be mothers,
to be a mother to the children who don't have one.
to be a mother to the children don't have the one they deserve;
to be the Mother of us all.


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