Recovering the Mothering of God

Scripture: John 3:1-21

Hear this Trinitarian prayer: Oh God, shake us out of our sleepiness and wake us up to the fragrance of this new day. Your Spirit is breathing new life into this world, and we would become, again, your instruments. In the name of Christ we pray, Amen.

Have you ever picked up one of those books that is so good you can’t possibly put it down? So exciting, so inspiring, so capturing of your imagination that you simply can’t go to bed, so you stay up until at least 2 in the morning if not later to keep reading, maybe even to finish the book? I have to admit on occasion I am guilty of that. When I was younger, that included bringing a flashlight to bed with me and reading under the covers on a school night when I should have been sleeping and getting ready for my next day – which as a paper boy started a bit earlier than some of my classmates.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if God’s story captured us in that same manner? Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could not sleep at night because the theological and spiritual depth of whatever we were reading illuminated truths about God so compelling – yet so different from the accepted traditions of the church that we couldn’t get enough of these Divine insights no mater how orthodox or unorthodox they may be?

 

Nicodemus is one of my favorite characters. One commentator described him as a “work in progress, on his way from being intrigued by Jesus to believing in Jesus.”[1] In short, one of those truth-seekers who cannot rest until he knows the whole story. He wants to know who Jesus is, why Jesus has come, and what that means for the faith he so deeply believes is his own. Judaism had institutionalized into a tradition-centered faith instead of a God-centered faith. I can only imagine that perhaps Nicodemus realized this and came seeking Jesus to figure out his next steps. Maybe, just maybe, Nicodemus really felt that the Way Jesus was teaching was more in line with the way God’s people should be. But there was an issue with the established acceptance of “truth.” No wonder he came by night to see Jesus – like reading under the covers by flashlight!

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a 20th century French Jesuit priest and scientist also reflected on and wrote about the sacredness of the universe. Some of his writings threatened the way of truth the Vatican wished to institutionalize, and they attempted to silence him by forbidding him to publish his spiritual and theological writings. Then they sent him to an archeological dig in China, and later to others across Africa and elsewhere on paleontological pursuits. I read that some seminarians in the 1950s would stay up late at night with forbidden copies of Teilhard’s writings and read by flashlight under the covers of their beds because his writing was so evocative, so illuminating of a different kind of truth present in God’s revelatory world of Creation that they just couldn’t put it down.

Silencing Teilhard’s didn’t work. His spirit kept soaring, his mind kept thinking. He continued to read, reflect, and write, and at his death signed over his writings to his personal secretary in France, which brought his writings out of the realm of the Roman Catholic Church’s proprietary censure. She in turn had them published, and his writings today continue to shake up the theological world with their impart.

Teilhard once wrote, “The more I give myself to the earth, the more I belong to God.”[2] Teilhard was one of many modern mystics, or “prophets” as John Philip Newell calls them, who delved deeply into contemplation of God, finding the Trinitarian relationship fascinating to unravel, but also how a Trinitarian relationship is reflected in us in the world when we are followers of Christ.

Seeing – and teaching – the sacredness of the universe as the foundation for all other relationships: relationships with the earth and relationships with one another both within and without the Christian fold has “radical implications for how we see and treat one another as individuals and nations, and for how we relate to the resources and creatures of the earth.”[3]

The late contemporary prophet-writer Thomas Berry would have agreed. He considered the Earth to be God’s great work, and humanity’s highest calling to serve in that great work.[4] Current writers and thinkers Ali and John Philip Newell have delved deeply into the Celtic understanding of spirituality and found nature at its heart. Nature that is filled with the fecundity of God; a constant generativity that echoes Divine self-emptying as creation continues to be born.

Fr. Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell, along with others such as Cynthia Bourgeault are reflecting further on the mystery of this self-emptying God. Rohr and Morrell’s recent book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation have inspired contemporary ruminations on interfaith alliance, born-again spirituality, and the ongoing mysterious movement of the Trinity – mutual self-emptying of love from one aspect of the Godhead into another which also bubbles over into and through us as well.

Following the lead of these modern day mystics, we find that God is always involved with us in all of life. This is nothing short of a “Trinitarian Revolution.”[5] One could even say, with the gravity of the first line of scripture in Genesis as echoed by the first chapter of the gospel of John, “In the beginning was relationship.” And this relationship has been going on since before time itself even began, and is continuing even now in and beyond our present moment. Trinity is “the flow who flows through everything, without exception, and who has done so since the beginning. … every ambition for humanity and the earth, for wholeness and holiness, is the eternally flowing life of the Trinitarian God.”[6]

It is the love of a mother for her child. It is the self-emptying gift of love and life that creates life and brings it forth into being. God’s mothering…let it also be for us a calling whereby we go forth into the world, speaking of God’s goodness to all our neighbors near and far. Let us become another aspect of the flow of Love in this truly awesome and beautiful world, even as we were originally meant to be. Amen? May it be so.

[1] Randall C. Zachman, “Theological Perspective, John 3:1-17” in Feasting on the Word – Year B, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0

[2] Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Prayer of the Universe as quoted in The Rebirthing of God; Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings by John Philip Newell (Nashville, TN: Skylight Publishing. 2014) 8

[3] John Philip Newell, The Rebirthing of God; Christianity’s Struggle for New Beginnings (Nashville, TN: Skylight Paths Publishing. 2014) 8

[4] Ibid. 10

[5] Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell, The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016) 37

[6] Ibid. 37-38

Questions for Reflection

How does thinking of God as Trinity inform, even increase, your understanding of God? Do you experience God, or relate more easily to God, in one of the three “Persons” of God more than the other two? What causes you to relate to God more closely in this way?

Household Prayer: Morning

Creator God, I wake this morning to the beauty of the world as though it were the first morning of creation. As the light of the sun rises on all that you have made, I pray that my spirit may rise also. Help me to be ready to greet you however and in whomever you make yourself known to me today. Help me to pause in moments of this day to glimpse the beauty you have made, offered as gift and sign of your abiding presence. I entrust myself and those I love to you this day; knowing that you promise to be with us always. In your holy, triune name I pray. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

O God, my Advocate and Comforter, I rest in you. The evening falls and the darkness does not overcome me, for you are my light. You are the Light of the world. I bring to you the passing cares of this day, and the deeper cares of my life and those I love. Breathe peace on all that stirs in me and whirls around me. Breathe peace into every troubled place and person this night. Shine on us, in us, and through us. I know that when I awake, I will still be with you, Holy One who is Source, Word, and Wisdom. Amen.

About Scottrick

Parent ~ Pastor ~ Poet ~ Author
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