Like a Mother Hen


One thing that I haven’t mentioned . . . in addition to having been a nurse, Peace Corps Volunteer, Lawyer, and Teacher . . . I go to church! In fact, I’m quite involved with my church, St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, NY. As part of my involvement, I write for and edit our weekly E-Newsletter, a sort of religious blog that I do every week. But, for some reason, I haven’t been sharing those writings on this blog. I think I’ll begin with this past week’s post referencing Mother’s Day, “Like a Mother Hen”:

I’m not going to get into the argument over gender-specific pronouns and names for God—he/she, Father/Mother, etcetera. As The Reverend Dr. L. William Countryman says in his book, Living on the Border of the Holy:

We cannot name the Hidden Reality [God] in the way that we name the objects of daily existence. . . . If we take “God” as a term pointing to something that coexists, on an equivalent level of reality, with “universe,” “cat,” “coin,” “loaf of bread,” or “daisy,” then God is reduced to being one thing among many.

God is too big to be defined by our little words, let alone concepts of gender, race, or anything else that categorizes. God is in a category of one, but in that ‘one’ is all.

Indeed, our Jewish brothers and sisters do not pronounce the name of God, but use different epithets, or titles, highlighting different aspects and various ‘roles’ of God.

However, as this Sunday is Mother’s Day, I will point out that one of my favorite metaphors for God uses the feminine, not the masculine. It comes from Jesus’ own words in the Gospel of Matthew:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. (Matthew 23:37)

Like so many other things that Jesus said and did, it turns our thinking about God on its head, opening us up to a new way of looking at God.

I think it is also important to recognize that one of Jesus’ last acts before giving ‘up his spirit’ on the cross was to ensure that his own mother would be cared for by handing her into the care of the ‘disciple whom he loved’ by telling his mother, “”Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.”” (John 19:26-27) As Christians—as humans—we should make it our responsibility to ensure that all mothers everywhere are cared for.

On this Sunday we recognize and honor one of God’s many aspects—mother. Mothers mirror God’s image to us and to the world-at-large. Let us give thanks for our mothers and mothers everywhere.


4 thoughts on “Like a Mother Hen

  1. Dara

    So true that God is not defined by our little (english) words. As a woman, I often wish we had a gender neutral name for God. The Bible does say God created man first and in his image. Woman is made from man. To help ease my frustration of feeling like a second class citizen of heaven, I sometimes pray to my mother/father GOD. Any thoughts on that?

    • Oh yeah–I have thoughts on that! I often just say “God” when the prayer says “Father” or some other gender-specific name or pronoun. I don’t believe that God has a gender. Nor do I believe the Genesis story of creation as anything more than a metaphor for creation. And, you’ll note that there are TWO creation stories in Genesis! Which one am I supposed to believe as being “truth”?!

    • Wanted to share this poem, which my priest–a woman–gave me:

      God of the Women

      God of the women who answered your call,
      Trusting your promises, giving their all,
      Women like Sarah and Hannah and Ruth —
      Give us their courage to live in your truth.

      God of the women who walked Jesus’ Way,
      Giving their resources, learning to pray,
      Mary, Joanna, Susanna, and more —
      May we give freely as they did before.

      God of the women long put to the test,
      Left out of stories, forgotten, oppressed,
      Quietly asking: “Who smiled at my birth?” —
      In Jesus’ dying you show us our worth.

      God of the women who ran from the tomb,
      Prayed with the others in that upper room,
      Then felt your Spirit on Pentecost Day —
      May we so gladly proclaim you today.

      O God of Phoebe and ministers all,
      May we be joyful in answering your call.
      Give us the strength of your Spirit so near
      That we may share in your ministry here.

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