“As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Is 66:13
We speak of God the father dozens of times in liturgy, i.e…our doxology begins “Park Hor—Glory to the Father…” This is proper, of course, as the Bible speaks of God repeatedly as a father. But today on Mother’s Day it is appropriate to recall that there are dozens of scriptures which liken God to a mother and her attributes. This should not be surprising for at least two essential reasons. First, as we often repeat, if God is God and we are creatures, none of our words for him definitively describe him. God is like a father, not just a father, God is much more. Thus we are right to say that God is like a mother but much more. And the second reason that God is like a mother, is of course because it says that God created men and women- in His image. So something important of God is reflected in women and mothers, some attributes and virtues that are crucial for us all to develop to live life abundantly. To pick just one typical Christian virtue of mothers to speak of today, I want to speak about comfort & compassion.
Though a generalization, I think it is a most often true one, that women and mothers tend to be compassionate. When Narek falls and hurts himself, my instinct is to ask what happened, where does it hurt, etc. Anna’s instinct is just pick him up and give him a hug. And when it comes to hugs and kisses, especially if he is upset, Narek looks to his mom for comfort. Not just because, as Narek says, my beard is prickly, but because his mom embodies compassion for him!
And so today in St. Hagop Church, on Mother’s day, it is crucial for us to remember that just as a good mother is able to pacify and soothe her child, so does God with us. Many come to the church and to me in times of distress and sorrow and trouble. In these situations, words exchanged toward understanding can be helpful; but the best medicine is simply finding the presence and warm embrace of God. English theologian Matthew Henry reminds us of this when he wrote that God comforts us, and he does so “not only with the rational arguments which a prudent father uses, but with the tender affections and compassions of a loving mother.”
What is our response to being comforted? Well take a moment to feel that now. We feel understood. We feel calmed. Stress lifts. Anxiety passes. Our problem now belongs to the one whose wings we shelter under. This is surely the perfect description of the mature Christian, who comes to God as a loving mother, a loving father. “O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Ps 131:1-2)
If you feel you are not there yet, you are probably right! Which of us is? But, that is our goal; arriving at a place where we trust God so much that we are not worrying about the events of our life, where we are calm and able to face the day. A place where we feel God’s comfort like a mother for her small child, and feeling thus secure, are able to comfort others when they come to us with need. That is what a church does for each other. Not just the pastor, but all of us, comforting each other with God, who—it is written—is the “God of all comfort.”
Let us pray. Today, O God, as we worship you on Mother’s Day , we thank you for those who gave birth to us and also for those women who took care of us and raised us. We appreciate their compassion and sacrifice that reflects your very nature, and ask you to bless us all with the strength and grace to have compassion for those given into our care. Finally Lord, we ask your blessing to be upon our mothers – whether they be in the flesh or in the Spirit this day. Grant to them fullness of life in this world and in the world to come, forgiveness and mercy for their shortcoming, and help them, who have been entrusted with the awesome responsibility of giving life, to reflect the self-giving nature of your love, you who are like a loving father and mother to all of creation, now and always; amen.
–Parts of this sermon adapted from “Mother’s Day Sermon – Comfort Like a Mother” by Adrian Warnock