A Mother’s Day Sermon

Attentive Love
Preached at Pittsburgh New Church
May 13, 2012
Rev. Chuck Blair

Here we sit on Mother’s Day. For some it stirs found memories of a mother – attentive and devoted. To others there is a void – a missing voice. Yet despite those differences we can celebrate on this day the positive experience of motherhood done well. Celebrating motherhood is celebrating attentive love.

Attentive love is largely self-defining. It is a focused love. A present love. My experience of a father’s love is more observational. In a division that is admittedly simplistic, fathers watch and care over the big picture. Mother’s are often times more attentive – more aware of details and daily needs.

At its best it is attentive and just that. “Attentive” with no “so that.” It is just attentive, accepting a child where they are as they are.

And that is where we can see how that attentive love is so reflective of God’s love. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66. As such this love gives rise to possibility and permission.

Possibility means an attentive love that in its unconditional grounding speaks to the object of that love the sense that life is wide open, that the promise is great. And not only is life wide open, but that we have permission to explore that horizon. Possibility and permission.

And that kind of love is not Pollyannaish. Note – our text from Isaiah speaks to comforting, comforting that occurs when life inevitably fails. And how is that we hold that “comforting” to have it most reflect God’s love?

It starts with the simple trust, trust that they have an Intelligence – God given that will lead them. That includes an Intelligence – God given – that will lead through times when their life falls apart and possibility and permission apparently “fail.”

And as our agenda for our children falls apart maybe, just maybe God is opening “possibility and permission” for us as parents or caregivers. There is no way to “save” others from the difficulty of life. They have their own journey, everyone blessed with their own relationship to God. In that vein, parenting or caregiving is important but we can never make ourselves THAT important. None of you, in a sense, frankly are all that great as parents or caregivers! We all fall short. We all are less than what our loved ones need or deserve.

There is no way to really know what we are doing. Ego driven “Control” wants to arrive in the guise of being a “good parent.” And with that desire, comes our individual work of regeneration – a candid conviction of lives balanced on feet of clay. And maybe, within that acknowledged imperfection lays the perfect parent!

So the comforting of God has two things – the comforting of simple trust. And it likewise has the simple acknowledgement of surrender, of letting go.

So we learn over years to trust, surrender, and love. These three allow us to be attentive to our children or those in our care without needing “it” to be any particular way. That does not mean life without boundaries, which is the inevitable retort of false duality. There are boundaries. But those boundaries are shaped and cemented by love. Those boundaries and part and parcel of “The Pact.”

[The] pact is the Lord’s close connection with us through love or to put in another way, [it] is the presence of the Lord with us in love and charity. The Word calls the pact itself a pact of peace. This is because peace symbolizes the Lord’s kingdom, and the Lord’s kingdom consists of mutual love that is the only thing that affords peace.

For in the end, God created YOU to be the mother, father, sister, brother, uncle or aunt to THAT child. So fill the moments you do have with attentive love, knowing the imperfections add to the sweetness of the journey. It is the journey of the “good enough” – the “good enough” mother, father, sister, brother, uncle or aunt to THAT child. If you find yourself called to do more, of course do more. That may well be God’s call. But do it with selfless attentiveness, as an imperfect offering, trusting and surrendering at the same time.

God’s call in this life and the next is to “abide in His love.” The call is not to be perfect, to be right, to be in control. It is to live into that Love, that greatest of Loves. “When you see this your heart will rejoice.” (Isaiah 66:14) Possibility and Permission ABOUND in that place.

You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself or inform curiosity
Or carry report.
You are here to kneel . . . .
TS Elliot

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