President Obama’s eloquent and moving eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. church in Charleston was healing balm for our grief and the festering open sore of racism in our country.
It is fitting that the president spoke under the auspices of Emanuel A.M.E. Church often referred to as “Mother Emanuel.” The name “Emanuel” is borrowed from the Old Testament (Is 7:14.) to refer to Jesus in the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew. “…and they will call him Emanuel, a name which means ‘God is with us’.” (Mt. 1:23)
Mother Emanuel – God with us as Mother is unusual in the patriarchic traditions of Judaism and Christianity, but the image – description of God as Mother is found in both traditions. Rabbi Marc Brettler writes:
"In some places, Isaiah 40-60 depicts a ‘kinder, gentler’ deity by depicting God as female. … (49:14) Zion says, /’The Lord has forsaken me, / My Lord has forgotten me.’ / (15) Can a woman forget her baby, / Or disown the child of her womb? / Though she might forget, / I could never forget you. / (16) See, I have engraved you / On the palms of My hands, Your walls are ever before Me.
"Here God is ‘The Excellent Mother’ who cares for her children so much that their picture is engraved or tattooed on her palms." (Marc Zvi Brettler, How to Read the Bible, The Jewish Publication Society, 5766 * 2005, p. 204.)
In the Christian tradition Our Lady of Guadalupe serves as Mother God with us. She is the patron saint of the Americas.
Will we take advantage of the blessings of Mother Emanuel with an effective struggle against racism?
And what about classism, Mr. President – will the secretive T. P. P. trade agreement (Trans Pacific Partnership) take into account income inequality – the basic rights of Asian and American workers, - and Mother Earth? With faith in the unseen, I hope so.
Listen to President Obama's speech at Mother Emanuel Church.