Summary: Mother’s Day - Female images of God in Scripture
I have a top 10 list of things that my mother taught me.
10. My mother taught me about the science of Osmosis.
Shut your mouth and eat your supper.
9. My mother taught me forsight.
Make sure that you wear clean underwear in case you are in an accident.
8. My mother taught me logic.
Because I said so, that’s why.
7. My mother taught me religion.
You better pray that comes out of the carpet.
6. My mother taught me to appreciate a job well done.
If you are going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.
5. My mother taught me about the weather.
This room looks like a tornado hit it.
4. My mother taught me about contortionism.
Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck?
3. My mother taught me humor.
When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me.
2. My mother taught me behavior modification.
Stop acting like your father.
1. My mother taught me about justice.
One day you’ll have kids, and I hope that they turn out just like you.
By the time a child reaches 18, a mother has had to handle some extra 18,000 hours of child-generated work. In fact, women who never have children enjoy the equivalent of an extra three months a year.
A Junior High science teacher lectured on the properties of magnets for an entire class. The next day he gave his students a quiz. The first question read like this: “My name begins with an “M,” has six letters, and I pick things up. What am I?” Half the kids in the class wrote, “Mother.”
Mothers are teachers. Mothers are disciplinarians. Mothers are cleaning ladies. Some mothers are gardeners & mowers of lawns. And most mothers understand that baking cookies is more important than washing windows.
Mothers are nurses & doctors & psychologists & counselors & chauffeurs & coaches. Mothers are developers of personalities, molders of vocabularies, & shapers of attitudes. Mothers are soft voices saying, "I love you." And mothers are a link to God, a child’s first impression of God’s love.
One of the things that gives me great pain is the amount of animosity that I sometimes sense between the Disciples Of Christ and the Independent Christian Churches. It saddens me that we who share so much of our heritage find it so difficult to learn from one another. As a Disciple, I admire their concern for sharing the good news and their willingness to engage with the culture. As a Disciple, the thing that I would most want to teach them is an appreciation for the role of women as leaders in the church and for the female images of God that we find in Scripture.
“Did you say the female images of God in Scripture? I thought the Bible was written in a male dominated culture and only used male images.”
It is almost as if we have been conditioned not to see the female imagery for God in Scripture. It is more common than you might expect, even in some very familiar passages. Let’s try a test. Besides the passage from Isaiah that I read this morning, I want each of you to stop and think of at least one passage where God is represented in a female role. Go ahead.
[pause] Did one spring to mind?
Dr. Margo Houts of Calvin College has compiled a rather extensive list of these references and I am very indebted to her work.
Here is one that you’ll remember. In Luke 15, God is compared to a woman who has lost a precious coin and is searching her house to find it. That parable is parallel to the masculine image of a good shepherd which appears with it. Leaving his 99 sheep, he seeks one that was lost. We don’t hesitate to think of God as the good shepherd, but we rarely think of God as the searching woman.
In Luke 13, there is another of these male female pairs. This time it has to do with faith. The male image is of a man planting a mustard seed and having it grow into a large bush. The companion female image is of a woman who is baking and places yeast in her bread to make it rise. We talk about faith of a mustard seed, but not the faith of yeast.
Other images based on traditionally female activities include God acting as a seamstress making new clothes for Israel. That’s in Nehemiah 9. God is frequently represented as a midwife attending to a new birth. See Psalm 22, Psalm 71, or Isaiah 66.
There are a number of comparisons of God to birds, especially to female birds. God is compared to a mother hen. Jesus does this in Matthew 23 when he says “How often I would have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.”