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Mothers and the Holy Spirit

Mother’s Day is this Sunday.  Heads up, late shoppers!  

Mother’s Day is great for most, and awful for a few. The church in the post-modern United States has not always known what to do with non-nuclear family women. I have heard more than a few unfortunate things said to women around Mother’s Day.

But, I also have this one story. The girls in the youth group in Michigan came to me as rector with a list of women they wanted to honor as spiritual models for them. This was in April, and I had one of those “Holy Spirit hit me with a stick” moments where I remembered that Mother’s Day was coming up and suggested that date for their honoring of these women as Spiritual Mothers.

They did, and it was one of those deeply wise moments in the life of the church. 

But what I really want to think about is how the Holy Spirit sometimes “hits us with a stick.”  

The Holy Spirit is third person of the Trinity and sent by Christ to take care of his disciples when he is no longer with them. In John 14-16, Jesus teaches that the Holy Spirit is going to come and remind the disciples of all Jesus had taught, tell them what it meant, and lead them forward into the new life that was to be theirs soon.

The word that Jesus uses for the Holy Spirit is roughly alliterated as “para-clete” or with-walk. This “alongsider” is the term used for someone assigned to guide you through life, an aunt or uncle who gives advice, has “the talk”, and goes with you to the village gate when you make your first deals and need guidance and someone to stand up for you.

All of this is in view when Jesus tells the disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned, but I am coming to you.”  He is going to send his Spirit to guide them and us. 

As we prepare for Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit then, one way to prepare is to ask yourself when have you had a good guide, a woman of faith or a man who has shown you the Way, given you the advice you needed or a gentle word to keep you in the faith or at least on the path.

Who has been your Paraclete?

We have women in our midst who have never been mothers or maybe weren’t our mothers, but who have nonetheless been Spiritual Mothers and have shown us what it means to have an “alongsider” at the right time. This is a good week to remember them and think of how we might be a paraclete to someone else. But it is also a good time to celebrate the Holy Spirit’s work in women and men of faith, whatever their nuclear status.

Blessed is the one who has a good mother, and blessed is the church that is full of good mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day.

I will see you at church!

The Rev. Daniel P. Richards
Christ Church of the Ascension
Paradise Valley, Arizona