The Motherhood of God

By Philip Young - 09 March 2018
A picture of the hands of a man, woman and child
I will be celebrating Mothering Sunday on March 11. I will, however, be more restrained about celebrating its close neighbour, Mothers’ Day.
 
There is a difference here: On Mothering Sunday all of us can celebrate that, as human beings, we are all capable of being Mothering. All, both men and women, have mothering instincts as part of our human nature.
 
Mothers’ Day, on the other hand, has been rather taken over by sentimentalism and commercialism and is usually restricted to women who are mothers - the card, flower, and chocolate industries do particularly well.
 
Mind you, I shall still be sending my 98-year-old mother a card and will hope to visit her to thank her for being such a wonderful mother for 65 years. I will be able to celebrate that she has been a wonderful mother to my sister, brother and me. Also, that she has passed on her mothering skills to all three of us.
 
I hope that if you are in church on Sunday that flowers will be offered to both women and men and also to those who are not parents. I hope they will be offered to celebrate the mothering skills that we can all develop as we grow as human beings.
 
One particular joy is to see our children develop their own mothering and caring skills. This can happen when children have younger siblings, but also when they offer to care and mother their own parents or their own friends.
 
One thing to celebrate on Mothering Sunday is the wonderful way in which God is to us both a father and a mother. With most of the emphasis in our churches on God as Father, it is good to reflect and celebrate the Motherhood of God. There is much to celebrate, but I thought I would focus on three aspects. God as birth-giver, God as compassionate, and God as wisdom.
 
God gives birth in creation. God gives birth all the time. In this way we can see God primarily as Mother. Childbirth is the moment when a new human being comes into the world. But all human beings are invited to be co-creators and to give birth to the new. So, we can celebrate God being mother, but we can also celebrate ourselves as mothers whenever we are being creative.
 
There are many ways we can help to create – art, literature, beauty, new ideas. Living as human beings to our full potential is an act of giving birth to our own particular contribution to life in all its fullness.
 
What we celebrate perhaps most about motherhood is that wonderful act of caring and compassion that is at the centre of being a mother. What a mother gives birth to she naturally nurtures and cares for. Love, caring and compassion are shared human attributes that are worth celebrating and encouraging. The world is so in need of kindness and care. What a huge difference we can all make by offering our care and kindness to one another and to our living planet.
 
The other value worth celebrating is wisdom. The ancient Greek word for wisdom is ‘Sophia’ and is seen as being female. In our information-dominated world the emphasis is on facts and knowledge, but without wisdom these are worthless. Heart knowledge and a motherly intuition are far more important than head knowledge and cold facts.
 
I think wisdom and the Holy Spirit go hand in hand. Whereas God the Father and God the Son are usually seen as being male, maybe God the Holy Spirit is seen and felt as being feminine?
 
I believe that the assets of mothering are for all of us as we grow up to be more fully human and more fully divine at the same time. Let us be nurtured by the divine feminine.
 
Thank God that we can all celebrate Mothering Sunday.

Philip Young is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. He is now a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters and available to run quiet days, give talks, presentations or to preach. Contact: philipyoung@btinternet.com.

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