By Pastor Tracey Leslie
A Sermon on the image of God as Mother, inspired by Isaiah 46:3-4, Psalm 131, and Matthew 23:37-39.
Have you ever given someone a nickname or pet name? Names are a very personal thing and the way we choose to address one another often indicates something about our relationship. Throughout this month, our sermon series is looking at some of the different names or images used to address or describe God in our Bible. By the way, be sure and also check out the artwork displayed in the GREAT Room to accompany this sermon series. It is the hope of your pastors that this series will spark your imagination and inspire you to think more deeply about your experience of God, your relationship with God, and the way YOU choose to address God.
Now, one of the things I recognize about this process is that some of the images we’ve selected might not be helpful to all of you. In her sermon last Sunday, Pastor Suzanne mentioned that the image of fire associated with God was not attractive to her in her younger years, that it even repulsed her, partly due to her exposure to a church near her home named Spring Branch Pentecostal Holiness Fire Baptizing Church… there’s a mouthful. I don’t know how they fit that on a sign.
So I recognize that the image I’ve chosen this morning – God as Mother – is not one that all of you will find appealing. Not all of us were blessed with nurturing mothers. Some of you may have even had mothers who were physically or emotionally abusive or neglected you… although I do hope that all of you had some woman in your life during your adolescence that did nurture you and assumed that role. But again, if you had a negative experience with your mother, you may never want to address God as Mother and that’s OK. The point of this sermon series is to reveal that, both within scripture and within our own lives, as human creatures, we draw from personal experience of what we have seen and heard in order to develop a better understanding of our God, whom we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. And that is exactly what happens in this morning’s Psalm, Psalm 131. In a certain way, what this psalm and this sermon series do is a bit like incarnation. Jesus entered into human flesh in a specific time and place in order that we might have a fuller understanding of God. And, as we examine these various images and names for God within scripture, it can lead us to a fuller understanding of God.
Pastor Suzanne Clemenz
Scripture: Matthew 3:1-11
How did you grow up imagining God? Is the image that you held in your childhood the same as the way you imagine God now? The images of God that we carry with us are important, and these images can come from what the Bible tell us about God or the way our church or tradition emphasizes certain characteristics about God. Or, our images might come from our own lived experience of God. Did you know there are over 40 different images of God depicted in the Bible? And there is so much variety in the imagery. Sometimes God is depicted as an animal, such as a dove, or a lion; sometimes as an inanimate force, like the wind. God is frequently described in a role, such as father, mother, teacher, creator, shepherd, judge.
It can be pretty mind boggling for us to conceive that God is at once all of these images and also so awesomely beyond any one image that we can mentally grasp. This is part of the mystery of God’s power and wonder. And yet, each image of God is important, because it reveals something to us about a facet of God’s divinity. Images give us a language for describing God, and images tap into not just our head, but also our heart and our emotions. I mean, how else can we describe our relationship with our unseen, powerful God without using images? Images evoke feelings and understandings that move us beyond abstract, out-there talk about God toward a concrete, personal, expressive, sensory, tangible spirituality.
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