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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Hosea 11:3–4, 8           

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.

How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. (NRSV)

When my children were little, I often read to them from a book entitled God Is Like a Mother Hen and Much, Much More. This fantastic book contained page after page of different images for God that we find in scripture. I still remember some of the lines: “God is like the air—right there but you don’t see it!” “God is like a best friend who loves to give surprises.” Some of the images it referenced were maternal images for God, as we see in this scripture from Hosea. Frankly, I am not always enthralled with Hosea and some of the language the prophet uses, especially the image he uses to shame Israel. But I am always moved when I read this particular passage about God teaching God’s people to walk, taking us up in God’s arms, healing us even when we did not know how or why or who. And I find myself breathing more deeply at the suggestion that God is like a mother who lifts us up to her cheeks before bending over to feed us.

Part of the continuing challenge for the church, for the Christian faith tradition, is to remember how many different images for God are present for us in scripture. We have used masculine pronouns and images for so many generations that our imaginations as to who God is have become limited, as least mine has. On this Mother’s Day that celebrates mothers and all women who love and nurture the children in our midst, may we remember from whom we have received this great love and allow ourselves to be fed by Her again.

God, our Mother and Father, I am thankful for your kindness, for your nurturing, for your great love. May I reflect that kind of goodness and love out into your world. May my own compassion grow warmer and more tender for all your children. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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