A Meditation for Beloved Community
From 1 Peter 2:2-3
14 May 2017
Just like newborn infants long for their mother’s milk,
those who have tasted that the Spirit is good,
long for the milk of the Spirit,
so that by it they may grow into their truest self.
-1 Peter 2:2-3 (Mountain-Plains version)
Common and Alice Walker
What do a novelist, poet, and activist who was raised by sharecroppers in Putnam County, Georgia during the height of Jim Crow; and a pescatarian rapper and actor from the south side of Chicago who grew up in the shadows of the new Jim Crow have in common?
Well… a lot. But I’m particularly thinking of the reality that in our present times, they have both taken to their artistic mediums to call forth a feminine revolution.
Alice Walker is the author of the 2010 poem, “Calling all Grand Mothers,” which we read a moment ago. The poem that calls on “Grand Mothers everywhere” to “come out,” “step forward,” “rise and lead,” and calls on “all men of Earth/ to gracefully/and gratefully/ stand aside.”
Lonnie Lynn Jr., best known by his stage name, “Common,” released a song in 2016 titled, “The Day Women Took Over.” The song imagines a world where women have “come out and stepped forward,” and men have “gracefully and gratefully” stepped aside.
It goes like this:
“There’s something ‘bout this day that seem good to me
when [people] I ain’t like is showin’ love to me
Good food and the mood and the hood is free
Peace and free is the frequency
This is the day women took over
No longer over your shoulder do you have to look over
Imagine, war is now over
Mother’s get medals for being courageous soldiers
Hoods feel safer, families feel closer
We all drunk in love with no need to be sober”
“Oh, what if women took over the world
Oh, every woman, boy and girl
Oh, maybe one day, we will see
Peace and unity the way it’s meant to be”
Now, this logic is not completely flawless… as you can probably imagine, a world lead by women like Betsy DeVos, Sarah Palin, and Marine Le Pen, might not be the world where we would see, “Peace and unity the way it’s meant to be.” So, for the sake of argument, I’ll allow that point to one who might argue with Alice Walker and Common on this idea, but in a world that continues to be so male dominated, even in the year 2017… I would suggest that their idea is worth exploring in the least.
What would a world look like, where women, “come out,” “step forward,” “rise and lead?” What would the world look like if men “gracefully and gratefully” stepped aside?
“Oh, what if women took over the world?”
The Mother God Economy
In spite of the reality that orthodox theology chose domineering masculine language (like most every other sector of organization and order in our society) to describe the indescribable Divine, scripture is actually overflowing with female images of God.
In fact, though, “Father God” language seems to have won the day, the biblical narrative is full of images of our “Mother God.”
Throughout old and new testament alike, God is imaged as a woman in labor, one who gives birth, a nurturing mother, a nursing mother, a mother eagle, a mother hen, a mother bear and on and on. This is not to say that literal mothering is the entirety of what it means to be female, for our courageous women leaders gathered here, or even for God, but scripture is full of these images, and even within these images there is a range of actions and emotions.
There is simply not one way to be a mother, though most images portray God our mother as a gentle and intimate comforter, God as mother bear in Hosea breaks the mold, showing us just how fierce our Mother God is, “Like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will attack them and tear them asunder…”
So God our mother gives us birth, nurses us, nurtures us, comforts us, loves us, gathers us under her wings, and even with fierce intensity defends us (non-violently, of course). So, what would the world look like if women would “come out,” “step forward,” “rise and lead?” What would the world look like if men “gracefully and gratefully” stepped aside?
“Oh, what if women took over the world?”
A couple of Sunday’s ago, Kaylanne and I were in Fort Collins for the Horse Tooth Half Marathon. Kaylanne had been “training” for this run since January, when her younger sister voiced that she’d like to run it, and Kaylanne said she would run with her.
Well, on Easter Sunday, we were all sitting out on the back porch at our house eating a traditional Easter meal of homemade pizza, when Anna said to Kaylanne, “Hey! Are you ready for our race next weekend?” And Kaylanne said, “Wait, that’s next weekend?”
So… the next Sunday, we got up super early and drove to Ft. Collins, picked Anna up, and I dropped the two of them off at the starting line, and drove the 13 miles to the finish line in just over 15 minutes, parked the car, and sat out on the patio at a nice, quaint little café for the next couple of hours while these two girls talked up and down hills all the way to the finish line.
And just in case you think they are strong for talking all the way through a half marathon while I drank coffee and enjoyed a chocolate croissant in the sunshine… you should have seen the hero mom that ran the race.
After we had finished our post-race party at the New Belgium Brewing Company complete with food trucks and free pints for all of the finishers, we were heading back to the car, thirsty, hungry, and ready to grab our nice healthy lunch of doughnuts, mac and cheese, French fries, beer, and cheeseburgers… when we ran into a truly fierce woman, who had just completed the race… and was sitting down on the curb with her racing hat, her race number, a pint of water, and a nursing infant latched to her breast.
I discreetly pointed it out to Kaylanne and Anna, and said, “You want to see what strength is? Everybody else that just ran that race is over there pounding calories at the party trying to recover… and this woman is just sitting on the curb like it’s no big deal sharing all of her extra strength with her child.”
That’s strong, and fierce, and caring, and compassionate, and courageous, and loving… and that’s what our Mother God who gives us birth, and nurses us, and nurtures us and comforts us and defends us looks like.
That woman, breastfeeding on the street in the sun after a half marathon is what our Mother God looks like, and that’s why men like me need to “gracefully and gratefully” step aside, so that that spirit can “come out,” “step forward,” “rise and lead.”
And in the context of our conversations about our money lately, I’ve been thinking about what a profoundly different economy our Mother God evokes than the economy that our domineering, patriarchal images of God employ.
The economy that we live in is thoroughly male dominated, and if you don’t believe me just take a look at the executive level leadership of our country’s largest banks… or take a look at the list of the 77 different people who have had the title, “US Secretary of Treasury,” all of whom are men.
With so much male control over money, it’s no surprise that we have built an economy based on extraction, hoarding, competition, and constant growth over and above all else. All of which are themes of first half of life masculinity.
All the while, our Mother God is sitting on the curb, drinking a glass of water, with a child latched to her breast calling forth an economy of abundance and sharing.
Mother God is bringing forth a new humanity
The text that we read this morning from 1 Peter 2:2-3, opens with an image of God as our nursing mother,
“Just like newborn infants long for their mother’s milk, those who have tasted that the Spirit is good, long for the milk of the Spirit, so that by it they may grow into their truest self.”
The text names the overflowing, abundant, nurturing goodness of God our Mother, this goodness that we long for… and acknowledges that all of us, male and female, alike have a journey to make before we come to be fully present in our inhabitation of a world that is completely saturated with the overflowing love and abundance of our nurturing Mother God.
All of us, male and female alike, have a deeper journey to become and embody the very goodness and beauty of our Mother God.
So, maybe a world where women simply take over, will not deliver, “Peace and unity the way it was meant to be,” but certainly a world “taken over,” which is to say, engulfed in, the divine feminine spirit would bring about, “Peace and unity the way it was meant to be.”
A world engulfed in the divine feminine spirit would bring about a world where, “Hoods feel safer, families feel closer, and we all drunk in love with no need to be sober.”
A world engulfed in the divine feminine spirit would bring about a world where, “respect for life & protection of the young” will rise and lead.
A world engulfed in the divine feminine spirit would bring about a world where, abundance and sharing are the markers of our lives and of course of our economy.
This text that begins with an image of God as our nursing mother, ends with an image of God as our birthing mother. At the end of the section, in 1 Peter 2:9-10, the author writes,
“You are God’s own children, born that you may enjoy and cultivate the goodness of life with the Spirit. Once you were not a people, but now you God’s people.”
And so, it turns to us, as it always does… once we were not a people, but now, we are God’s people… born that we may enjoy and cultivate the goodness of life with the Spirit together.
So, may the Spirit of our Mother God “rise and lead” us.
May the Spirit of our Mother God lead us from our inhabitation of a world built on extraction, hoarding, competition, and the constant need for growth… towards a world that joyfully overflows with goodness and love.
And may we all find ourselves “so drunk on love” that “there’s no need to be sober.” Amen.