Attaching to Mothers, God, and Each Other

This sermon can be listened to here.

Gate Pa – Year B  6th Sunday of Easter, 2021

Psalm                          Psalm 98                                                                 
First Reading:              Acts 10:44-48                    
Second Reading:         1 John 5:1-6                       
Gospel:                          John 15:9-17                 

What I want to say:
I want to use John Bowlby’s work on Attachment Theory to explore the importance of mothers (and others). And to see how this might us explore what it means to be grafted as branches into the vine of God and what that might mean for how we live our faith.
Use the Acts story as an example of what I am talking about

What I want to happen:
What kind of love do we trust and abide in
What kind of love do we seek to pass on?

The Sermon

       1.     Introduction:

Happy Mother’s Day
Ü Day celebration for many
Ü Day to be mindful of all those for whom this is not a good day.
Ü Day to give thanks for all those mothers who for love have set aside preconceived ideas and loved their children anyway
o   Helped change the world

       2.     Bowlby’s Attachment Theory

As thinking about all this reminded of John Bowlby’s Attachment Theory.
-         introduced to a few years ago while I was studying Human Development
-         He particularly interested in emotional attachments between children between 6 and about 30 months and their mothers
-         noticed that some toddlers stayed pretty close to their mothers when out
o   keep an eye on her
o   not go beyond certain point
o   anxiety
-         others were willing and able to leave that orbit and explore
-         suggested that some toddlers learnt able to trust mothers.
o   mothers would keep an eye out
o   would still be there
o   strong emotional attachment allowed them to leave the orbit
-         others did not have such a strong and trusting emotional attachment
-         his work shows the importance of the bond between mothers and their children
o   How those attachments contributed to the foundation of later emotional and personality development
o   Others looked at implications rest of life
-         helps us celebrate importance of mothers
-         in part why mother’s day for some is not a great day
-         This theory broadened from Bowlby’s original focus
ð As currently formulated stresses that “children between 6 and about 30 months are very likely to form emotional attachments to familiar caregivers, especially if the adults are sensitive and responsive to child communications”.
ð Further, his work shows that these relationships we form with people like our mothers play an important role in shaping how we relate to others, including future partners, future children, and work colleagues, in late life.
-         So on this Mother’s Day we remember the importance of our own mothers in our lives,
-         and we pray for mothers and all primary care givers around the world,
o   that their relationships with their children may be strong and life giving.
-         May we find ways of supporting mothers and all primary care givers and helping them offer this kind of love to their children.

       3.     Julian of Norwich

Yesterday our calendar invited us to remember Mother Julian of Norwich
Lived in 1300’s as anchoress at church of St. Julian in Norwich.
One most important English mystics
Lived time great turmoil
-         King Richard II deposed (1399)
-         Peasants revolt, ended badly  leaders in Norwich (1381)
-         2 or 3 bubonic plagues
-         100 years’ war
-         Church – popes forced out Rome 1309 -1370, then competing Popes for next 40 years
Just as God is our Father, so God is also our Mother. 
As if to say,  I am the power and the Goodness of the Father, I am the Wisdom of the Mother, I am the Light and the Grace which is blessed love, I am the Trinity, I am the Unity, I am the supreme Goodness of all kind of things, I am the One who makes you love, I am the One who makes you desire, I am the never-ending fulfilment of all true desires. (...)
I then saw with complete certainty that God, before creating us, loved us, and His love never lessened and never will. In this love he accomplished all his works, and in this love he oriented all things to our good and in this love our life is eternal.
She saw God holding a tiny thing in his hand, like a small brown nut, which seemed so fragile and insignificant that she wondered why it did not crumble before her eyes. She understood that the thing was the entire created universe, which is as nothing compared to its Creator, and she was told, “God made it, God loves it, God keeps it.

        4.     Remaining/Abiding in

How does this help us understand image of being branches in the vine
-         abiding/remaining in divine love
This week’s gospel reading is part of Jesus’ farewell speech
-         Summary of everything done and said
-         Deeply pastoral function
o   Inserted later meet growing needs of John’s community
o   For Jesus disciples – everything was about to change
§  Going to get very dark
o   For John’s community – nothing was as they expected
§  Persecution
§  Divisions
§  Hard and dark
o   Needed pastoral words that helped them carry on
invites disciples to trust the relational attachment they have with God through Jesus
In everything that Jesus said and did
He lived God’s commitment to them and to this world
Invited them to place their trust in God
God is reliable
Is uncompromisingly committed to them and us
Created this world in love
Holds them and us and all creation in love
Invited in this image of vine and the branches
To remain in – abide in – trust God of love
To allow that trust to shape how they see themselves
-         How relate to God
-         To each other
-         Those outside little community
-         All of creation
Like those little children Bowlby and others researched
Sense of identity is shaped by this abiding
How we live is shaped by this abiding.
Shaped by trusting in God who is trustworthy
We can be like those toddlers who trusted and went off to explore
Knowing God our mother is there for us 

5.     Acts

We need to be warned that consequences of this trusting attachment are profound
Book Acts story of radical
-         How this little community grew from group of mostly devout rural Jews from Galilee
o   (think conservative Christians today – get idea what they were like)
-         Then including Greek speaking Jews from Diaspora
-         Last week including Jews from Ethiopia (darker skinned and different again)
o   Also, eunuch – limitations around that
-         Philip sent by Spirit to preach to accursed Samaritans (who are least cousins – whanaunga)
-         This week Peter engaging with, talking to, eating with (honouring and blessing) and then baptising Gentiles – nothing in common really.
o   Romans – oppressors
God was including even them into this new community
Which is lucky really because they are our ancestors
Our ticket into the church.
When we trust and remain in – all bets are off.

       6.     Wonder

Wonder what this image offers us in our troubled world
What pastoral image is Jesus giving us in face
-         ongoing Covid pandemic
-         Human made climate change continues take hold
-         We in mainline church face very uncertain future?


Popular posts from this blog

Wilderness Peace

Joy in a hard year

Good News in a Wilderness Year - #slowadvent