Above: Mother and Baby
(Image from here: http://www.crmcwy.org/services/women_children.aspx?id=1982)
Each of Us is a Child of God’s Womb
(See the Isaiah reading.)
NOT OBSERVED IN 2014
NOT OBSERVED IN 2017
Isaiah 49:8-16a (New Revised Standard Version):
Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I have answered you,
on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages;
saying to the prisoners,
to those who are in darkness,
They shall feed along the ways,
on all the bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them down,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
And I will turn all my mountains into a road,
and my highways shall be raised up.
Lo, these shall come from far away,
and lo, these from the north and from the west,
and these from the land of Syene.
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the LORD has comforted his people,
and will have compassion on all his suffering ones.
But Zion said,
The LORD has forsaken me,
my LORD has forgotten me.
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.
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands.
Psalm 131 (New Revised Standard Version):
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
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.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.
1 Corinthians 4:1-5 (New Revised Standard Version):
Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive commendation from God.
Matthew 6:24-34 (New Revised Standard Version):
No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you– you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat”‘ or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Did you notice the incongruity between the collect and the first reading? The dominant gender image for God in the first reading is feminine, but the collect addresses God the Father. These are just metaphors, so let us not become distracted by them, reifiying them and transforming them into idols. Instead, may we look through them to the substance behind them.
Yahweh/God the Father is far removed from traditional concepts of the Mother Goddess, but the Judeo-Christian Bible contains images of God as mother. And let us not forget the personification of divine wisdom as feminine. Deity exists beyond gendered bounds, containing characteristics we humans associate with both males and females, with fathers and mothers. So God is our parental figure, and we are as helpless as infants. (This is not how many of us like to think of ourselves.)
And the truly excellent news is that God is better than any human mother or father, as the reading from Isaiah reminds us. God is love, and love seeks reciprocation. Love gives of itself to the point of self-sacrifice. This describes the God I see in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Today has enough worries of its own. I did not ponder this statement until early 2007, when the floor of my life fell out from under me. I learned then that worrying was truly worthless, especially when life was more difficult than usual. Instead, I crawled to God, acknowledged the obvious (my helplessness), and did not pretend to be any more than I was. God, my mother, comforted me with maternal love and rocked me to sleep. God, my father, extended paternal care. Jesus, my brother, put his arm around me and supported me emotionally. All the metaphors came into play. And I survived another day, at which point the process started over again.