Author Topic: ELCA prays to "Mother God"  (Read 45045 times)

jebutler

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ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« on: May 01, 2020, 05:31:24 PM »
This was tweeted by the ELCA's official account on April 28:

Mother God, you have fed us with the nourishment of your spiritual food. Raise us up into salvation and rid us of our bitterness, so that we may share the sweetness of your holy word with all the world.



The truth we preach is not an abstract thing. The truth is a Person. The goodness we preach is not an ideal quality. The goodness is Someone who is good. The love we preach is God himself in Christ. --H. Grady Davis

Dave Likeness

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2020, 05:41:19 PM »
In the Sermon on The Mount, Jesus said, "Pray then like this:"

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name".(ESV)


When we honor the Triune God, we remember God the Father,
God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 05:46:10 PM by Dave Likeness »

readselerttoo

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2020, 06:22:44 PM »
Absolutely am sure that this is an attempt to please a segment of the general population which “prays” to the god of the Enlightenment.  But can this be missional?  No.  It is foolish.

Imo, of course!

The only appeal to the segment of the population which believes and expresses itself this way is for the Christian church to draw its line as a Christian church and put forward Jesus Christ is the Savior.  Then it would pastorally move folks from their place toward the sacrament of Holy Baptism and if so baptized already, then steer them into talking about being and living within the Body of Christ.  Then one could talk about how Jesus’ Father is our kind and loving Father:   A unique relationship open to all.

The point being that this unique relationship is a one-off (one of a kind) not needing the aspects of a woman’s kindness to counter any past hurtful encounters with a bad dad.  Not denigrating a woman’s kindness here but actually accentuating a type of unique kindness surrounding and including a woman’s kindness but driving the character of kindness further and deeper than any human, male or female, can offer or express.

Just use the resources of Holy Scripture and we need not have to either reference or make apology on a sociological or psychological level.  Scripture presents unique ways to express God’s love and kindness when we emphasize the uniqueness, qualitatively different aspect of Jesus’ relationship to His Father in heaven.  Resorting to analogy from sociology or psychology steers folk away from what the scriptures actually say and confess who God is.  Imo
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 06:48:39 PM by readselerttoo »

Eileen Smith

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2020, 07:32:56 PM »
Absolutely am sure that this is an attempt to please a segment of the general population which “prays” to the god of the Enlightenment.  But can this be missional?  No.  It is foolish.

Imo, of course!

The only appeal to the segment of the population which believes and expresses itself this way is for the Christian church to draw its line as a Christian church and put forward Jesus Christ is the Savior.  Then it would pastorally move folks from their place toward the sacrament of Holy Baptism and if so baptized already, then steer them into talking about being and living within the Body of Christ.  Then one could talk about how Jesus’ Father is our kind and loving Father:   A unique relationship open to all.



The point being that this unique relationship is a one-off (one of a kind) not needing the aspects of a woman’s kindness to counter any past hurtful encounters with a bad dad.  Not denigrating a woman’s kindness here but actually accentuating a type of unique kindness surrounding and including a woman’s kindness but driving the character of kindness further and deeper than any human, male or female, can offer or express.

Just use the resources of Holy Scripture and we need not have to either reference or make apology on a sociological or psychological level.  Scripture presents unique ways to express God’s love and kindness when we emphasize the uniqueness, qualitatively different aspect of Jesus’ relationship to His Father in heaven.  Resorting to analogy from sociology or psychology steers folk away from what the scriptures actually say and confess who God is.  Imo

I am surprised by these comments.  I know there is concern that a high Mariology might point away from Jesus but I think it does the opposite.  Mary points the way to Jesus for us, giving all glory to her son.  Some of the very beautiful icons show Mary's hand extended in love pointing the way to the Father; that is, through her son.

I pray to Mary daily.  She is the mother of the church.  I find the Hail Mary a most beautiful intercessory prayers. 

I think by now people know me well enough that I don't jump on to all that the ELCA says and does but here I find a beautiful way of praying and a beautiful way of teaching children to pray.  I see nothing untoward about it.

I wonder if there is a link I'm missing that gives more information.

Weedon

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2020, 08:11:12 PM »
Eileen, I’m confused by your comments. The prayer didn’t say Mother of God, but Mother God.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2020, 08:13:23 PM »
This was tweeted by the ELCA's official account on April 28:

Mother God, you have fed us with the nourishment of your spiritual food. Raise us up into salvation and rid us of our bitterness, so that we may share the sweetness of your holy word with all the world.


Are you praising or criticizing? Why did you start the discussion?


The Bible uses mother images in terms of God. Why shouldn't we?


Numbers 11:12-13 —
Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their ancestors? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, 'Give us meat to eat!'

Deuteronomy 32:18 —
You deserted the Rock, who bore you;
  you forgot the God who gave you birth.

Job 38:28-30 —
Does the rain have a father?
  Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
  Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,
  when the surface of the deep is frozen?

Psalm 90:2 CEB
Before the mountains were born,
  before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world -
  from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God.

Psalm 131:2 —
But I have calmed myself
  and quieted my ambitions.
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
  like a weaned child I am content.

Isaiah 49:15 —
"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
  and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
  I will not forget you!

Isaiah 66:9 —
"Do I bring to the moment of birth
  and not give delivery?" says the Lord

"Do I close up the womb
  when I bring to delivery?" says your God.

While not certain, the Hebrew phrase El Shaddai (אֵל שַׁדַּי) may be related to the word for (female) breast shad (שַׁד). The CEB suggests that it could be "God of the mountains."



P.S. The Tetons are named for the French word for breast.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2020, 08:16:01 PM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2020, 09:33:24 PM »
The prayer posted by J.E. Butler can be found in the book Bread for the Day 2020 (Augsburg Fortress) on page 137.  It's the prayer of the day for April 28.  As such, it would be the appointed prayer of the day for Matins and Vespers for congregations using the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Lectionary. 
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Charles Austin

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2020, 09:36:09 PM »
Old news, folks, the ELCA has been using references to "mother God" or a "mothering God" for a whole bunch of mothering years. Did our Lord say his prayer was the "only way" to pray? Do we rigidly genderize the almighty?
I'm not sure what "missional" is or why everything has to be that, but while I am not likely to use "Mother God" very often, I do not think it is silly.
And among us it is certainly not new.
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Eileen Smith

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2020, 09:39:24 PM »
Eileen, I’m confused by your comments. The prayer didn’t say Mother of God, but Mother God.

Thanks for your pointing this out.  It may just seem an excuse but in these days of essential procedures I've had eye surgery put on hold.  Reading is no longer as interesting as I don't always catch words. 

In describing God I appreciate Pr. Stoffregen's comments but it does change my view on prayer.  Thanks again!

DCharlton

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2020, 09:51:54 PM »
Old news, folks, the ELCA has been using references to "mother God" or a "mothering God" for a whole bunch of mothering years. Did our Lord say his prayer was the "only way" to pray? Do we rigidly genderize the almighty?
I'm not sure what "missional" is or why everything has to be that, but while I am not likely to use "Mother God" very often, I do not think it is silly.
And among us it is certainly not new.

You are correct.  Right or wrong the ELCA in its churchwide expression considers Mother to be an appropriate way to address the Father of our Lord Jesus.  They have also fully accepted the theological consequences of that decision. 
David Charlton  

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2020, 11:32:35 PM »
The prayer’s use of an upper case “W” in word would’ve been appreciated.

Peter (who, me?) Garrison
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 11:34:04 AM by pastorg1@aol.com »
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Dan Fienen

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2020, 11:05:23 AM »

God does not actually have gender, He is a totally different kind of being to which gender categories do not apply. That said, generally in His dealing with us He appears anthropomorphized as male. He encouraged His people to call Him Father. For all the passages that Brian found that uses mother imagery for God, are there any passages that address God as Mother? In addressing God in prayer as Father we are following ancient tradition and Biblical precedent. In addressing God in prayer as Mother, what tradition are we following and what Biblical precedent are we following? To say that at times God has acted in ways that are similar to how we think of mothers acting is not the same as affirming that He is a mother.


For example, in Mt. 23:37, Jesus compared Himself to a hen who gathers her chicks. Does that mean the Jesus was actually a mother hen? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines "Mother hen" as "a person who assumes an overly protective maternal attitude" and give as an example of mother hen in a sentence "a football coach who fusses over his players like a mother hen." Are we then to gather that the football coach is actually a woman since he is said to mother hen his players?


We need to be careful lest we allow social or political concerns to dictate our language about God. The temptation has always been to remake God into what we would like Him to be. That also applies to those who would use our traditional masculine imagery for God to somehow elevate males over females as being more in God's image or some such nonsense.
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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2020, 11:37:20 AM »
Augustine wrote or dictated 50 million words about God.
He also wrote these seven, (7 counting in Latin): “Words about God are worthless.”

Peter (49,999,993 still worth it) Garrison
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 01:55:00 PM by pastorg1@aol.com »
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Charles Austin

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2020, 11:43:52 AM »
Pastor Fienen writes:
We need to be careful lest we allow social or political concerns to dictate our language about God.
I comment:
Sigh. We have been down this road before. But here we go as I have hitched up the team.
1. There is a tendency on the part of people who don't like what is going on to immediately and uncritically attach the motivation to "social or political concerns." I say here, for the seventy-umpteenth time, I do not believe that is what motivates most of the discussion about, concern for and changes in liturgical or pious language. Can you possibly understand that some of the concern is theological, pastoral and - in certain ways - scriptural? Can you possibly understand that such changes can be driven by actual, living, breathing faithful people who ask pastors and others about language?
2. And such language as "mothering God" is not ubiquitous, required or even dominant. Why does it bother you that it is present? When I was still in a parish, I frequently re-wrote the stuff that came online in liturgical materials, sometimes to make it more inclusive, sometimes to make it less so. (More often to clean up inelegant or inept or silly language and sentence structure. Frankly, I'd rather stick with Book of Common Prayer language and keep teaching people how to understand those wonderful words, but...)
3. All our language about God, even "Our Father," is - in its own way - temporal and impermanent.
4. Yes, despite what I said about these changes not being "driven" by social concerns, it is true that the patriarchal nature of our language and our language about God can get in the way of proclamation of the Gospel. Not always, and maybe not in every place, and maybe not in your place, but believe me: It does. As I just said above, this is still not being "dictated" by social and political concerns.
5. Neither expect you to comprehend these things, nor do I suggest that you alter your references.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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readselerttoo

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Re: ELCA prays to "Mother God"
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2020, 12:02:49 PM »
I realize that the Hebrew Scriptures offer images of God that have feminine attributes or at least references.  But they do not reference God as person/s directly.  Christians confess one God in three persons and three persons in one God.  The persons are directed to Father, Son and Holy Spirit not to a father, a son or a holy spirit.  The Trinity is unique and cannot be compared in analogy or even reference.  It is encounter of the person of the Father, the person of the Son Jesus and the person of the Holy Spirit.  These are unique, one-off persons uncontained by analogous reference.  You will see this in John's Gospel and the Gospel readings in Easter leading up to Pentecost Sunday.