The Body of Christ… a Mom?
by Sharon Simpson
Sixty women sit encircling two young women surrounded by mounds of gifts. It’s a baby shower. Two new moms are being welcomed into the role of “mother” by women young and old. Their babies are being passed around from woman to woman who gazes deeply at the newborns and does her best to keep them comfortable and happy throughout the evening.
It’s a wonderful tradition in our community to celebrate the newness of life and the newness of these young women in their new role as “mom”. At this shower, one of those new moms was my daughter. One of the babies, my granddaughter.
As I looked around the room, I saw the faces of women I have grown to love over the 14 years that my husband has been the pastor of our congregation. I watched my daughter receive the blessings of generations of women who not only celebrated her joy, but understood the journey that lay ahead for her as a mother, a grandmother and a great-grandmother.
I know many of their stories… the joys and the hardships. These generations of women each carry with them the journey of living out what Eugene Peterson so aptly calls, “a long obedience in the same direction”. Faithful in their relationship to Christ, faithful as they journey together.
There was a cluster of young moms and expecting moms. Joining them were the younger women in serious relationships, looking forward to their future as a bride and mother. In one corner, the middle-aged women clustered as they shared the babies from arms to loving arms. Some were grandmothers already, some eagerly waiting their turn. Blended families, step-moms, women who took on other children to be their own. Children helped with unwrapping gifts and folding tissue while the new moms opened gift upon gift of love. Scattered throughout are the great-grandmothers, many of whom have loved and prayed for generations of children who have been a part of this community of believers.
My heart was full as I watched these women pour out their love, their blessings and their hopes for these babies. I watched as one by one their gifts were acknowledged and the joy of giving was displayed across their faces. Our little church with regular people faithfully sharing life together…. The Body of Christ.
When I was a teenager, I listened to a lot of Christian music. My parents were generous about music and took us numerous times to the Jesus Festival where we loaded up on records for the coming year. Buy four, get one free. Five records for each of us four kids. Twenty records a year. Raise up a child in the way that they should go. The records are gone, but the music comes around so often in my mind as I grow older.
As I drive to work, do my dishes and think about doing laundry, a song from those records rises to the surface of my memory. It’s a song where the lyrics reference the Body of Christ as a mom. I liked it when I was a kid and I really like it now that I’ve had years of living under my belt. I’ve searched online for the correct lyrics without success. I believe that it is the song “Bear the Burden” on Salmond and Mulder’s Stumbling Heavenward LP.
Here’s how I remember the lyrics…
“Bear the burdens of your brother – Seek to love one another/For the body is a mother, come to comfort us all/You can take the Father’s hand, Let Him lead you to the Promised Land,/But you need a mom to understand – Pick us up when we fall…/We need a mom to understand. We need a mom to pick us up when we fall.”
The Body of Christ… a mom. She’s there to hold you when you cry as a newborn, to feed you, to introduce you to others who will love you and cherish you. She’s there to teach you, to enjoy you, to play with you. She loves you with instinctive protection and advocates for your needs to be met. She sacrifices her own interests to give you opportunities to learn and grow. She picks us up when we fall.
The Body of Christ… a gathered group of believers who walk this life together with God’s guidance and strength.
When a person is suffering, the deepest hope that can be offered is that someone is standing with them, alongside of them. We want to know that our suffering is known and understood – to belong somewhere where people care about us and have hope for us.
As I looked around the circle of women at the baby shower, I thought, we’re not alone. We are one body….We belong somewhere – a place where people care for us – a place where our sufferings are recognized and the burdens are shared – a place where we have hope. We know that there is renewed joy and we accept the sufferings alongside the joys. We do this together, in Christ.
My granddaughter, so tiny and vulnerable, belongs here. We do not know what life holds for her. We do know that there will be joy, sadness, suffering and hope. This is her family, her Body. This is the spiritual “mom” who will pick her up when she falls, will love her when she trips, will hold onto her when she is having a temper tantrum and will rejoice with her when joy comes in the morning.
Sharon Simpson is the Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement at Menno Place in Abbotsford.