When our first baby is born, Kari will take maternity leave. After that, she’ll go back to work.
As a bi-vocational pastor, my bi- part will be caring for our baby. So, friends kindly point out, I will be a stay-at-home mom.
No, I retort, I’ll be a stay-at-home dad. God made Kari the mother, a wise choice because he also gave her a higher threshold for pain. My body has been aching since the first chapter of my birth partner book. It’s the first time I’ve complained about a book having too many pictures.
I’ll never be a mother, thank you, but I will have to learn to be more motherly. A shocking truth that wins nods from even the most conservative systematic theologians, God the Father — known to Jesus as Abba — possesses motherly attributes. Having given us life, he nurtures, nourishes, loves, and protects, leaning over his children with concern and care, our infinite source of security, power, and possibility.
The union that Jesus described as having with the Father may accommodate our understanding if we dwell on the union of an infant with its mother. The picture isn’t perfect, but it is a natural reflection. What repulsed Jesus’ audience was not that he called God his Father, but that he claimed to experience the Father so intimately as expressed in his calling him “Abba.”
As a father should, when my child cries, “Daddy,” I’ll run to provide the kind of love and care that really only merits the attributive motherly — even so, reserving full credit for being the father when my son wants to learn how to be an actor, or when my daughter wants to date.