Jesus, as a mother you gather your people to you.
You are gentle with us as a mother with her children.
Often you weep over our sins and our pride;
you tenderly draw us from hatred and judgement;
you comfort us in sorrow and bind up our wounds;
you nurse us in sickness and feed us with pure milk.
Jesus, by your dying, we are born to new life;
by your anguish and labour, we come forth in joy.
Through your sweet goodness, despair turns to hope;
through your gentleness, we find comfort in fear;
through your warmth, life comes to the dead;
through your touch, sinners become righteous.
Jesus, in your mercy, heal us.
Jesus, in your love and tenderness, remake us.
Jesus, in your compassion, bring grace and forgiveness.
Prepare us for the beauty of heaven by your love.
Amen. (St Anselm (1033-1109))
On Sunday we heard Jesus compare himself to a mother hen who longs to gather up her brood. Did you know that the early church understood Jesus to be the incarnation of Wisdom, also known as Sophia? Yes, that’s a woman’s name: and he was thought to reflect the feminine face of God. How fitting, then, to hear an ancient prayer from St Anselm which reflects on the mothering face of Jesus. I reproduce it here for those who missed it, or who would like to pray through it again.
Lent is dragging on. On Saturday, many of us gathered to yarn about our time in the wilderness. We heard stories of unfinished PhDs, and young motherhood, and depression, and climate change, and the bush walk which never seemed to end … The wilderness experience was summed up by the teller who said, “Many people visit this particular wilderness. But when you go there, you always go alone.” They were talking about the wilderness of depression, but it captured the sense of isolation that many of us had had in our wilderness experience. Thank you to all who told, and to all who listened so well: they were perfect stories for Lent.
Just a reminder that our series of reflections on discipleship, #40ways40days, continues to unfold online. Most of you have the booklet, but if you look at the website you’ll find a picture for each reflection. If you are a visual person, this may enrich your experience.
Speaking of visual, I love this picture of a mother walking with an infant and a toddler. To me it embodies the images in St Anselm’s prayer of a mother gently parenting at different stages; plus of course it captures the metaphor of Jesus walking alongside us on the road of life. Have you ever imagined Jesus as a young mum feeding an infant, or sticking a band aid on a toddler’s knee, or walking and holding a young child’s hand? How does this image make you feel? (And why is it so rarely mentioned in the church?! It’s certainly in the Biblical witness.)