What are the attributes of the God of your understanding?
Our faith formation is informed/ influenced by our social locations and identity development. On Sunday, Aug. 14, we built on a conversation sharing our faith journeys. We listened to each other’s paths, as we continued to discern “What Next?” for this congregation and the people of God.
What does a God of our understanding have to do with how we understand our own identities? God is who and what we need God to be. And what we need is largely based on how we perceive our walk through this life.
The prayers of someone who feels powerful and experiences lots of unearned privilege may consist primarily of exercising prudent/ethical judgement. While another who is constantly aware of their vulnerabilities may pray for strength, courage, and deliverance. The respective theologies and faith constructs will reflect these differences in social location.
Ashley, Heidi, Carol, Caly, Harold, Allen, David, Katherine, Serena, Lisa, Emily, Nancy, Kris, with Mary Jane popping in … shared about their faith formation, and earlier generations; and how these beliefs shaped their lives.
Caly McCarthy, who will lead a “call and response” piece as we open this Sunday’s worship service, offered that the best part of her “concept of God is that it’s been malleable, which has allowed me to grow as a person without feeling like I had to desert my Christian tradition as old concepts proved too limiting.”
In our sacred texts, there are several images of God and Jesus Christ expressed in metaphor from “bread when you’re hungry”, “ a wheel in the middle of a wheel”, “The Potter”, “The Good Shepherd”, “The Author and Finisher of our faith”, “The Light of the World”, “The Way and the Truth and the Life”. God is my Rock, my Fortress, and my Deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2). For the Lord God is a “sun and shield” who gives grace and glory: no good thing will God withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11).
We can accept and hold each of these descriptions of the Holy One, while offering thanks and praise for every one of our faith experiences that provided safekeeping and sustenance. We can honor every faith tradition that brought us to this collective moment of service, worship and justice-making with our God of many names!
Among the affiliations mentioned in our faith journeys were United Methodist Church, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Quaker, Congregationalist-United Church of Christ, Baptist, Non-denominational-Independent Community churches, and Catholic.
A couple of introductions began with, “Since I am a white male chauvinist….” and “Because I am a church lady…” This is an excellent place for us to remind each other that God saw everything that God had made, and behold, it was very good (Genesis 1:31).
And God called everything that was made, “Good.” We are each made in God’s own image.
It is holy to wrestle/ grapple with our images of God, as “we work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).
Kris Davis offered a few closing words about her relationship with faith formation and identity development:One thing I like about my concept of God is the idea of forgiveness and of being loved just as I am. What I don’t like is the fluid or uncertain nature of my conception of God or Sacred Presence—I suppose I resist the mystery. I wouldn’t want it to be said that my way of relating to God or prayer to God is not valid.
I feel seen by some as “the church lady” and by others as insufficiently Christian for not worshiping or praying in a way that is more Bible-based. My spiritual background includes Roman Catholic, UCC and Episcopal worship, as well as studying interfaith traditions (Buddhist, Sufi, Kabbalah, Native American, the Christian mystics) as part of my training in contemplative prayer.
I really liked and want to hold on to the observation you made at the beginning of the discussion about how our concept of God and how we pray and worship is very much connected to our identities in the world. I think it will be important for us to think about that as we discern our “what’s next.” I’m grateful to you for planting those seeds.
Summarily, we serve an awesome God who has declared that we are each enough to be an integral part of this salvific story. And God called it “good.”