In my 2009 publication The Twilight of Liberalism, I discuss how the church is our mother. I point out that Christ movingly evoked maternal imagery in Luke 13:34. The Church, like a good mother, takes responsibility for teaching her children (Rom. 12:7), equipping them for good works (2 Tim. 3:16-17) and helping them when they are sick (James 5:14). The Church, like a good mother, has a mandate to provide materially for her children (Rom. 12:8,13; 2 Cor. 8,9), even redistributing wealth among her offspring (2 Cor. 8:14-15) so that none go without. Through the institution of baptism the Church, like a good mother, washes her children. The Church, like a good mother, provides accountability (Gal. 2:1-2; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15; James 5:19-20), discipline (1 Cor. 5:1-13; 1 Tim. 5:20), and has genuine authority (2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15; Hebrews 13: 7 and 17). The Church, as a good mother, gently draws us to our Father.
The Church acts as mother to the degree that she is central to all of life. Without Mother Church, life would disintegrate. The entire life of the Christian should revolve around church just as the entire life of a young child revolves around mother. Douglas Jones describes this aspect of the church in his essay, Mother Kirk:
"The Church should be so central in our thinking that without her life would collapse. She should play prominently in our understanding of the past, the present, and the future. She – not the state or the family or the individual – should be first on our lips when we discuss evangelism and social change and the good life. We should turn to the church first for doctrinal nourishment and practical raiment."
At the heart of the Church is the institution of the Eucharist. Here the Church, like a good mother, nourishes us with her food. I have already mentioned the principle that human beings have an instinct to follow the person who provides food. It was after Jesus fed the crowds that they were ready to follow Him and make Him king (Jn 6:1-15). We expect food from our parents and that is why we pray to our Father in heaven, “give us this day our daily bread.” (Mt. 6:11)
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