under the shelter of your wings

God, our Mother,

You tell us that your love for us is like a mother hen – gathering us all under the shelter of your wings. Your servant Paul speaks to the churches whom he loves as one who has given birth. The early church thought of the sacrifice of your son, Jesus, as nourishment akin to the milk from a nursing mother’s breasts.

Mother-love is powerful, God, and we walk this morning into the mystery of that kind of love that is able to conceive and birth, feed and nurture, comfort and compel.

We lift up our praise and thanks for the way you love us like this, for the images we find in earthly life of birthing and nurturing that remind us of how deeply you love us, how you yourself created and conceived us, and the ways you continue to love us beyond that moment, through our whole lives.

And we thank you, God, for those people in our own lives who have mothered us – mothers of biology and mothers of circumstance, the women and men who offered themselves to us in such a way as to provide places of safety and growth.

And, just like any other reality of depth and intimacy, God, we remember and lift up all the infinite ways that the idea of ‘mother’ can cause pain. For those whose relationships with their own mothers was not the most nurturing; for those who struggle with infertility; for those mothers whose children are no longer living; for those orphaned and abandoned; for those whose lives have led them to relinquish motherhood; for those who deeply desire to become mothers and cannot; for those who struggle with the constricting insistence that only women can mother or that women can only BE mothers…God there are so many ways we walk past pain on this day. Open our eyes and our hearts to the sisters and brothers around us who are struggling.

Yet and still, God, your word to us is that your love for us is like a mother’s, like the love of one who labored long and loved deeply. And so this morning, we lift up to you all in our midst who need the comfort of your gathering, healing, sheltering wings:

And we celebrate the mystery of your maternal love made evident among us:

God, our Mother, walk with us through the mysteries of this day. All of it – all the joy and all the pain – are yours. Amen.

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