Today is Mother’s Day, a day when people in many countries around the world honor the mothers of their family and celebrate the loving bond between a mother and her children. On this day, we should also consider the spiritual dimensions of motherhood. To be a mother is to be like God, for God not only is our Father in heaven, but also our heavenly Mother.
The Bible is full of examples of the Divine Feminine, but most people think only of the male attributes of God, our Father, or the proverbial “Man Upstairs.” Without seeing God as our Heavenly Mother, mainstream Christians are missing an important part of the story. Today we celebrate Mother’s Day — and not only do we honor our human mothers, we give thanks and praise to our Mother in Heaven. We also tell the story of Pandita Ramabai, a Hindu woman who worked for equal rights for women and girls in India, and later became a Christian.
Today is Laetare Sunday, a special day in the Christian liturgical calendar when we pause during the austere season of Lent for a joyful celebration. The word laetare in Latin means rejoice! — and it comes from a verse in the Book of Isaiah that is traditionally read on this day:
In this week’s service, we focus on the theme of Joy — rejoicing even despite our troubles and afflictions, which is made possible by faith in a God who loves us with infinite compassion. In the middle of Lent, we pause for celebration of a God who cares for us and uplifts us as our perfect Mother and Father in Heaven, fortifying our souls for the journey to the cross of Christ that lies ahead. We also tell the story of Fanny Crosby, who overcame severe disability and became one of the most prolific hymn writers in history.
This week, on January 6, Christians celebrate Epiphany, commemorating the visit of the Magi, or the “three wise men” from the East, to pay homage to the infant Jesus. The Magi were most likely Zoroastrian priests from Persia, who were seeking the fulfillment of a prophecy in their own religion for the coming of a messiah. As this example shows, we should be willing to look for truth wherever it can be found, even if it’s outside the boundaries of our own religion or culture.
In a world full of mixed messages, how can we know when we’ve found a source of spiritual truth? In our first service, we commemorate the discovery of Jesus by the Magi, who were seeking a savior — and we reflect upon the importance of discernment and building our faith upon a solid foundation. We also celebrate the life of Julian of Norwich, a woman who survived a pandemic in the Middle Ages and received revelations of God’s love.
Pastor Eric Stetson shares the good news that God is a loving family and we’re all part of it. He discusses the significance of Jesus and Mary as exemplars for the sons and daughters of God, and our calling to grow up to spiritual maturity.
About a year ago, I began reflecting on the growing need for a new type of church — a community of faith that brings people together in a coherent understanding of who we are as beloved children of God, and which, while being open-minded and inclusive, inspires people to live a devoutly religious life. The combination of progressive faith and a strong commitment to organized religion is hard to find, but for many years I have believed it to be the answer to many of humanity’s problems. This elusive synthesis can facilitate the greatest moral progress and spiritual maturity both for the individual and society.