Tomorrow is Mother’s Day– the one day in the year when we focus on taking time out to celebrate mothers and give thanks for them. In many churches across the UK cards will be made and flowers given out to mothers within the congregation. Spare a thought for those who have never been a mother. Our churches are full of singles- not just single mums- but single daughters who never became mums. Women who didn’t marry, didn’t want to marry, the divorced, the lonely, the gay, the unapologetically single; the widdowed, the abused, the ones who hate kids, hate or fear sex: those who are infertile and the ones whose dreams didn’t turn out how they had hoped. These people look around and see proud mums, lonely mums, single mums, beaten mums, tearful mums, neglected mums, mum who mourn their dead children or husbands.
You see it’s not just a day for celebration, for many it’s a day of tears of sadness rather than joy and the church needs to take account of that in some way if it is to remain loving, relevant and inclusive. But, the truth is, we all have something to thank our mother far. We are all somebody’s daughter or somebody’ son- even if we have no memory of them. We had a father, but it was our mother who carried us inside her womb where we were formed and shaped, and it was there where God began to get to know us, as it says in Psalm 139:13 “ For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”
The Bible uses a lot of masculine imagery about God the father, and it would be easy to see the role of mother as very much secondary- simply a baby machine but is that it? In Matthew and Luke Jesus talks about caring for the people of Jerusalem as a hen would gather her chicks in an act of love and protection. It is this image that survives in the Anglican liturgy in Eucharistic Prayer G which includes the passage; “How wonderful the work of you hands, O Lord. As a mother tenderly gathers her children, you embrace a people as your own. When they turned away and rebelled your love remained steadfast.”So, in this spirit, may we try to reach out to the rebellious, the sad, the lonely, the neglected, the obedient and the diffident and gather them as a mother tenderly gathers her children. May we show that the love of God also has its feminine side because all children need to know the love of a Go(o)d mother!