Single-Handed Theology: one hand in motherhood, one hand in theology, each inspiring the other.
Tonight, while nursing Arden before bed, all the while humming old hymns and drinking hot lemon tea, I was considering the relationship between Christ and the church. In a sacred mystery I am not sure I understand, the apostle Paul identifies Christ as the husband and the church as the wife. That got me thinking – where are the children?
We’ve got all sorts of relationships pictured in the Bible, relationships that exist among God and between God and humanity. There’s God the Father, and His Son, with the Spirit as the bond of love between them (to use Augustine's analogy). There’s Christ the bridegroom, winning a bride for Himself, the Church. The Spirit may also be seen as the chemistry, or divine electricity that draws and binds each to the other. (Of course the Spirit is also a person, not simply a force, with whom we have a relationship with as well, though He is always handing us off to Christ.)
Surely the greatest romance of all time would find fulfillment in the natural outcome of marriage, that is, offspring. We are God’s children, but the Church as she is now has borne no children.
But of course. The marriage has yet to happen. The Great Wedding is an eschatological event, and we are still the betrothed, not yet a wife, not yet a mother.
When I thought of this, a little tingle of excitement ran through me, and it wasn't the lemon tea. Sometimes when we think about the end of this world, or life after death, or eternity in heaven, we struggle to imagine what on earth we’ll be doing. (And yes, there will be a new earth too, as well as a new heaven.) Getting to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb seems like a pretty ultimate arrival in and of itself. But just think, we will be marrying Jesus, the One by whom and through whom all things were created! With such a creative husband, I wouldn’t be surprised if our union brings about some kind of new life. I’m not thinking of more human children, or a race of demi-gods, but something alive nonetheless, something that will recreate the church anew as baby recreates a woman from the inside out.
Perhaps we will experience a glorious motherhood, perhaps there will be things that need our nourishment and our love, love which has been made perfect through the fires of tribulation and resurrection. Perhaps we will be the co-creators we were meant to be. Perhaps the Spirit will birth new life in us as a surprise wedding gift. Who knows?
There is a reason a veil hangs over our faces as we look past the future into eternity. But you know what they say. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes . . .