I’ve come to believe that there are only two ways we can even begin to talk about God. Both of them are woefully inadequate, but they are all we have.
The first is through description. We use descriptive words that explain part of what we know or assume God to be. We say things like God is holy, God is love, God is just. The words grow in size as we try to find ways to talk about God. God is omnipotent, omniscient and transcendent. Every word helps. Every word falls immeasurably short.
The second way to talk about God is through analogy. We use the narrative construct we already live in to make comparisons that give us language to talk about Mystery. The Psalmists do this. God is a Rock. A Fortress. A Banner. The Biblical poets do this. God is a Lover, a Whirlwind, a Consuming Fire and a Warrior. And Jesus did this. To Jesus, God was a Shepherd, a Gate, a Money Lender, a Judge, and a Gardener. There was one analogy that Jesus made more than any other—that God is Father. This was the primary way Jesus talked about God. It was, and probably still is, the best analogy there is. But it’s still an analogy. We can’t lose sight of that.
God is not literally a Father. Because God is not a man. God is God.
Most Christian traditions still use masculine pronouns to talk about God. That’s natural given our history. But maybe that more than anything else is what embeds in our minds that God is a man. God is not. Neither is he a woman.
That last two-word sentence may strike many of you as odd. Or wrong. Maybe heretical. It’s not. God is Father. He is that, though he is not a man. And God is Mother. That analogy is equally true.
Hosea says that God is our Mother.
Isaiah says that God is a Mother who comforts us, a Mother who nurses us from her breast and a Mother who endured labor pains for us.
Jeremiah says that God is the Queen of Heaven.
Jesus says he is like a mother hen longing to take Jerusalem under her wing.
A Narrative Christianity knows that God is not literally a man or a woman, but that God is truthfully both our Father and Mother.
With that in mind, here’s my attempt at a Mother’s Day prayer:
Our Mother in Heaven.
You’re are always here.
Your name is comforting.
May you reign as Queen here on earth as you already do in Heaven.
Feed and care for us today, as you have since the day we were born.
Forgive us for not loving others the way you have loved us.
Lead us away from selfishness and into the selfless way you’ve modeled for us.
Because yours is the Kingdom—the power—the glory.
Forever and ever.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Chris JL