It’s good for us, and our spiritual development, to expand our images of God. Most of us were raised with the understanding that God was male, even more specifically an old white male with a long flowing beard, similar to the God painted by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel. The one thing I have learned, however, by embracing both liberation and feminist theologies, is that my spirit grows the more I expand my thinking, including my images of God.
With that I share with you a story I shared with the congregation last Sunday while discussing the 23d Psalm. It presents a wonderful, poignant, feminine image. It seems a young boy after being questioned by his mother as to what he learned in Sunday school answered proudly, “Oh, we learned about good Mrs. Murphy.”
“Good Mrs. Murphy?” replied his mother with an astonished tone. “I never heard of a ‘Good Mrs. Murphy’ in the Bible.”
“Oh, yes!” responded her son with pride. “And Good Mrs. Murphy shall follow me all of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Now that we’ve all had our chuckle, I would like you to ponder Mrs. Murphy, early 50’s, barely five feet, 225 pounds, warn face, but kind eyes, her salt and pepper hair tied back in a bun, very Irish. She’s bent over a washtub doing laundry for oh so many children. There is a whisk of hair on her forehead with sweat coming from her brow. Some children are playing while others are sitting at her feet, watching. Suddenly one of the children comes running, crying that he has fallen and scraped his knee. Mrs. Murphy without missing a beat drops her laundry, picks up the child, clutches him to her big loving breast, gives him a hug and a small kiss and says with a thick brogue, “ There, there, my child, you are going to be OK. I’ll always be here to look after you.” She puts the child down and with a small pat saying, “Now be off, and be a good boy, and be careful. I love you, sonny boy.”
When I pray as I often do “Our Father and Our Mother God which art in heaven…” I have an image. There are many more images of course, but this is one of Mrs. Murphy is one I cherish.