Mother God and Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day, I invite you to consider an alternative Trinitarian formula from the Trinity Working Group of the Presbyterian Church (USA): Mother, Child, Womb. This maternal language for God has roots in many sources, including both the biblical book of Isaiah and the writings of the sixteenth-century Protestant theologian John Calvin.

As the recommendation of the Trinity Working Group shows:

“[Calvin’s Commentary on Isaiah 46:3] explains that God ‘has manifested himself to be both…Father and Mother‘ so that we might be more aware of God’s constant presence and willingness to assist us. [Calvin continues in his Commentary on Isaiah 49:15 that] God ‘did not satisfy himself with proposing the example of a father, but in order to express his very strong affection, he chose to liken himself to a mother, and calls [the people of Israel] not merely “children,” but the fruit of the womb, towards which there is usually a warmer affection.’”

My bolding of the words ‘mother,’ ‘children,’ and ‘womb’ illustrates how Calvin’s writings can be used to support referring to the Trinity as “Mother, Child, Womb.”

Consider also the strong female imagery for God from Isaiah on which you have just read Calvin’s commentary.  In Isaiah 46:3, God says, “Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from your birth, carried from the womb.”  Even more strikingly, in Isaiah 49:15, God says about God’s relationship to Israel, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?”  To translate this verse into Trinitarian language, God is like a “Compassionate Mother”; Jesus, like all of us, is God’s “Beloved Child”; and the Spirit is the “Life-giving womb” in which all of us “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  Again, the bolded words are my emphasis, illustrating how God’s words, spoken through the prophet Isaiah, support the Trinitarian formula “Mother, Child, Womb.”

As part of your Mother’s Day celebration, I invite you to spend some time prayerfully contemplating how it feels to worship God, who is not only “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” but also, “Mother, Child, and Womb.”

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