The one sure thing we can say about God is that he/she does not fit into a box. God is greater than anything we can ever imagine or understand.
In today’s liturgy Isaiah uses feminine imagery to describe how God deals with the chosen people. And so God says that “she” will be like a mother to us, consoling us when we are sad, fondling us in her lap and suckling us at her breasts when we are in need of sustenance.
Of course, God is just God. God’s not a man; not a woman; not something in between. God transcends, goes beyond, gender. But thinking of God in terms of a mother as well as a father allows us to glimpse God in an entirely new light. It means that we can suddenly appreciate the tender, life-giving, nursing side to God. These feminine attributes remind us that there is no part of our lives that God is absent from, and nothing that God is unconcerned about.
Living as we do in a scientific age, we tend to think that we can dissect everything and find out exactly how it works before putting it back together again. Then we can use it when we want it. This approach sometimes affects the way people think about God. The have a Jack-in-the Box God that can be kept with the lid shut and brought out by undoing the catch when we can’t solve the problem ourselves and need a bit of divine help.
However, God is much too big to fit in the box and much too clever to be tamed by our attempts to tie him/her down to neat categories. Anyone who has ever read the scriptures will know that time and time again God acts in precisely the opposite way to how we humans think he/she should. God picks the very people whom everyone else discounts on the first ballot; God grants victory to the underdog; God confounds the proud with the humility of the meek, and turns up in circumstances where we wouldn’t expect God to be.
Today Isaiah reminds us that God is bigger than us and we cannot pretend to have God taped. If we let our minds be stretched by thinking of God as both a mother and a father then we get twice as much God for our money