Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Many Names of God

In our community when you are the prayer leader, you begin the Prayer of Jesus as part of the role. This means that you are the one who addresses God, beginning the prayer with a title of your choice.

I'd say that the most common choice is "Loving God," or, to change the syntax a bit, "God of Love." Loving Creator also shows up often, as well as God of Compassion, or God of Mercy, or Ever-Faithful God, or God of Our Longing. Sometimes we get less oft-used titles: "Abba," "Divine Source," or "Mother/Father."

The other day I started thinking about this practice, and it became more and more beautiful as I reflected on it. By listening to the different images that our sisters have of God, we experience a more complete image of our Creator, one that includes more than just our own perspective. Maybe the prayer leader feels especially in need of mercy or forgiveness that day and chooses the fitting title. Maybe the choice was just the title that I needed to hear that day to be reminded of the many natures of God.

It was actually in taking a college course on Islam that I began to appreciate my own faith in a deeper way. We spent one particular class talking about the fact that there are an infinite number of titles for God, ones that I would have never thought of before; up until that time I had only thought of God as Father, as I had been raised with that language. But, I can also remember the first time that someone referred to God as "She."

Today when I look out my window I see the God of Ever-Renewing Verdancy. Spring is finally here! What is your name for God today?

Let us walk in the holy presence.

(See all those buds being patient!)