Sermons

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Carpool

Once I suggested that murders were most often planned while sitting in the carpool line. It seems like some people just lose their brains in carpool, while others turn, faster than Superman, from mild mannered moms and dads into raving beasts.

All of a sudden, little Johnny and Susie have to go through an entire routine of having Mom/Dad help them out of the car, then getting their backpacks out of the car, then getting their lunches out of the car, then hugging Mom or Dad, then having a conversation about where and when they'll be picked up even though they've all been together for at least an hour, getting ready for school, and another fifteen minutes in the carpool line.

And all of a sudden, some other folks' hearts start pounding as they sigh loudly and look every five seconds at their watches, needing to get somewhere else NOW except that the car in the front of the line doesn't pull all the way down.

You can tell which kind of mom I was when it came to carpool. I barely stopped long enough for them to get out, and then I was on my way and they on theirs.

So there are times when we talk about God as our parent, either as father or mother, and I think about what kind of mother I am and I hope like hell that God is not that kind of parent. For that matter, I hope God is not the other carpool Dad/Mom kind of parent, either. Because I am, and I know I am, dependent upon God and yet I believe God does not infantilize us. It may be grace that enables us to do what we do (and it is grace that enables us to have life at all), but we still do what we do. Sometimes no doubt to God's amusement, but we do go about being competent in at least some areas of life.

It is a problem that we don't know how to talk about God in a way that is both personal and yet non-gendered; cosmic and yet incarnate. We don't have the words or pronouns (nobody wants to call God "it"). We can talk about sources or sustainers or words that tell something about God, but they feel so impersonal. So we talk about God in terms that we use for ourselves and for other human beings. Being, self, person, father, mother. Which brings God into our scale. Because when we go all cosmic, God becomes too fuzzy, too far away, too different from us.

But as usual we also set up false dichotomies. There are not only two kinds of carpool parents or parents generally. God is not either transcendent or imminent. God is not father or mother. Not even Plato's Idea/Form of Father or Mother. It helps to remember that just as parents have many dimensions to their parenthood - some of them seemingly mutually exclusive or at least opposites held in creative tension - when we want to talk about parenthood, we have to pan the lens out far enough to contain all that parenthood is as it is expressed in this Mom or that Dad.

And when it comes to God, we have to talk about God so much that we get as many of the ways God is God into the conversation as we can - and make sure the conversation is on-going, lifelong, in fact. God is being, God is spirit, God is father, God is mother, God is source, God is well-spring, God is the omega point, God coddles us, God steps back and lets us do it ourselves, God is cosmic, God has pitched God's tent and moved into the neighborhood, God is ..... We can't get it all in every time, nor can we name all the ways God is God in one sentence.

So we are always be on the lookout for the ways that God is being God, and name them, not to displace the other ways, but to bring all the ways to the place where we collect our bits and pieces about God. And to go visit that place whenever we can to see the beautiful kaleidoscope of God being God. And marvel that we can comprehend any of it.

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