Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thesaurus for the Trinity?

(Read Psalm 18:1-20)

Take a moment and think of all those nicknames, those affectionate terms, those 'love' names you have for family members or friends. Sweetpea, Nana, GeePaw, Peanut, BeeJay, Punkin are some of the ones I have heard used for people over the years.

Now, think of all those nicknames, those affectionate terms, those 'love' names you use for God. C'mon, you say you love God, so what are the names, the images, the metaphors you have when you talk to or about God?

Could you pray to God as the Shawl of Holiness? Are you able to speak of Jesus as the Champion of the outcast? Would it be appropriate to call the 3rd person of the Trinity a 'sap-surging Spirit'?

Recognizing that our language - especially about God - is limited and limiting, why is it that so often God is only referred to as Father, Son, Holy Spirit; or Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer? Why. when we pray, is it a repetitive use of 'O God'? Where is the rich thesaurus for all the diverse, wonderful, beautiful, creative ways of speaking about the One who did not limit humanity to one mold, or trees to one model, or birds to one color?

The psalmists try to get us started building this rich and varied language. Embedded within the psalms are creative, evocative, emotional, tender words to describe God's presence, God's power, God's grace, God's hope. I still remember, as a young boy who felt alone and lost in a confusing world, the first time I heard about God being the rock where I could find refuge. What power, what liberation, what comfort was given to me in those words! And over the years, I have developed other creative, more contemporary, and (hopefully) more personal-to-me language for God.

As we take the path of words to Bethlehem, may we arrive with new ways of telling of our love for and to God.

Prayer: Cradle of our dreams, hear us as we tell you how much we love you, even if we fumble with the words. Gift us with fresh language, so we might tell others of how precious you are to us, using images that will draw them closer to you in this time in which you draw ever closer to us. Amen.

(c) 2007 Thom M. Shuman

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