Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lent 4B 2012: The motherliness of God

Lectionary: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

Note: Mother Valori preached from notes today.

En el nombre del Dios: Padre, Hijo, y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

Today is Laetare Sunday, also known as Mothering or Refreshment Sunday. In the tradition of Mothering Sunday, we pause to give thanks for our mother church, the Mother of our Lord, and the motherliness of God (pink vestments).

We talk a lot about God the Father, but not God the Mother. Remembering this is true to Scripture and Tradition, but not very present in our experience.

For example, in Gen 1 – the first story of creation, God created humans in the divine image, “male and female” God created them. It was in the second story of creation in Gen 2 that Adam (adam in Hebrew means human) was created and Eve (meaning first) was created from Adam’s rib. (1:27)

The prophet Isaiah tells us that God desires to comfort the people of Israel “As a mother comforts her child.” (66:13)

Wisdom literature = feminine character of God and feminine name for God.

Jesus also describes the motherliness of God in the Gospel of Matthew, saying: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem… How often I have desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…”

John 3:16
Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may (SHALL) not perish but may have eternal life. (Gk retranslation)

Martin Luther called this the gospel in miniature.

Short grammar lesson: Infinitive: to have. Past tense =had. Present tense = have. Future tense = will have.

So when does Jesus say we have eternal life? While we are live or after we die?

Another teaching: Eternal life – who? God alone. Living in eternal life = living in God.

Add John 3:17
"Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Whenever we rebel, when we make mistakes, or act badly, how does God react? How God always reacts. Let’s remember what was in our Old Testament reading from the Book of Numbers…

God tells Moses to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt where they are slaves, to a place where they can live in freedom and peace. And all they can do is whine about what isn’t right.

They complain that they have no food, so God gives them manna. Then they start complaining about the manna.

Then snakes begin to attack them and many of them died. This makes them realize that they haven’t been acting right.

So the people cry out, “Save us from the snakes!” and what does God do in response? How does God react?

God gives Moses a way to give them comfort. Put a snake on a stick and lift it up so they can see it. If they trust in my love for them, they will not die.

The same is true for us. Jesus tells us if we trust in God’s love for us, then we will have eternal life (remembering that eternal life is right now, not in the future – not after we die.)

And if we have eternal life, then how will we be judged at the end of our life? How will God decide?

Jesus tells us something really important about that. It’s the last thing he says in this gospel story. Jesus says that God has already decided:

“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world…” If we live in that light (which is Christ) then everything we do will be done in God.

If we live in the light of Christ, we will do what is good and true, except when we mess up. God knows that we can’t live perfect lives, that we will always make some mistakes. It’s part of being human.

It isn’t about what we do (works). It’s about who we are. We are beloved of God. All of us. Every one of us. Children of God.

So how does God react when we mess up? the way God always reacts. God comforts us like a mother comforts her child, and protects us like a hen gathers her chicks under her wing to keep them safe.

Why? Because God loves us.

Let’s go back to our sign, and let’s say it together: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Add 3:17 "… not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

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