Posted By Communications on May 10, 2021 | 0 comments

Sunday, May 9, 2021 – Pastor Teressa Sivers
Acts 10:44-48 and John 15:9-15

Father who is Mother… Mother who is Father… Holy Parent, though the word parent is not enough… Abide in us. (pause) Abide in us. (pause) Oh holy Mother-Father-Parent, Abide in us always. Amen.

Mother. It is a bit delightful that on what the nation is celebrating as Mother’s Day, the Gospel reading features so prominently the word ‘Father’ for God. Oh, Mother’s Day… how the church has struggled to be the Body of Christ on this day, and on its partner, Father’s Day. Parenting is such a profound experience. It has such an indescribable impact on the world, forming the lives of every human on the planet. Of course, we in the church want to celebrate those who gave us birth, those who raised us, those who are called to become parents themselves. But, in more recent years, we—in the church and outside of it—have become more aware of the pain that these celebrations can cause.

How are we sensitive to those whose experience with parents is not something they want or are able to celebrate? How do we factor in the rawness of those who cannot birth children, who have lost children, who are not called to be parents? How do we honor the beauty and wonder of our transgender and gender queer siblings who are not within the binary of mother and father? And with all this awareness, how do we let those who do want to celebrate, who do want to bless and give thanks for their mothers and fathers, honor the day?

The Gospel of John, especially our reading for today, is actually perfect for the difficulties we face as open-hearted, progressively-minded, 21st century followers of Christ. 

Jesus calls God ‘Father,’ twice in today’s reading. And then Jesus goes on to describe the abiding love and relationship between God and Jesus, Jesus and all humanity—all creation actually—in ways that were typically and deeply motherly in Jesus’ time. Fathers, in first century Palestine, were traditionally protectors and providers, loving but with a bit of distance, charged with distilling obedience and discipline in the children, modeling correct, societal behaviors. Mothers in this time period were the nurturers, the cooks and clothing-makers, the caretakers of the home. And yet, as Jesus teaches of abiding, nurturing love, which is truly embodied in the willingness to lay down one’s life, the irony is, that in essence, that IS what parents are all about, mothers AND fathers, in the ideal. Jesus’ teaching, as he and his beloved friends gather around the table of the last supper, uses gendered language but he steps all over the boundaries his society {and ours} typically set for men and women, mothers and fathers.

Just hours from laying down his life for all his beloved friends, all creation, Jesus teaches his beloved ones about love—real love, divine love, sacrificial love. It IS a father’s love. It IS a mother’s love. But even more so, it is a relational love that is deeper and richer and more enduring than any title we have for love. Ultimately this love is beyond the parent titles we use, beyond marriage imagery, beyond friendship metaphors. As Jesus struggles to convey this love to his beloveds, we catch a glimpse of a love poem woven into the fabric of creation itself; a love song that abides within all things—eternal. This poem, song, fabric of space and time and creation, declares that YOU (regardless of your gender identity) are a MOTHER—you have within you the capacity to love others in ways that comfort and heal and transform and nurture.

This poem-song assures that YOU are MOTHERED—you are loved beyond your wildest imagination. And you are invited to dwell within that love at all times, to abide. You are mothered just as you are right in this moment by the One who created you, sculpting you in all your wonder and glory, breathing the Life-Spirit into your lungs, holding you as precious beyond words. 

We spend so much time in the church preaching on justice work and spirituality practices, all that we ought to do. So today, on this Mothering Sunday, you are simply invited to open your whole self to God’s mothering—heart, soul, mind and body. Make sure you are comfortable. Take a deep, centering breath (in—out). Let us open ourselves to hear this love poem from Jesus, beautifully crafted by Kelly Ann Hall, a beloved child of God. Experience Christ’s love song to you…

Click HERE to read and watch this beautiful poem from The Work of the People.

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