In the beginning, God! Genesis 1:1
Of the questions asked of parents and godparents for baptism, the one that elicits the most conversation is: Do you believe in one God: Creator, Christ and Spirit?
When asked about faith in one God, Christians, Muslims, Jews and Sikhs all affirm a resounding yes. Christians elaborate with an affirmation of God in three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, which we call the trinity.
When asked about naming, experiencing, praying or singing about God there are incredibly diverse responses. Faith language is rich, deeply personal, diverse and is not limited to male pronouns like Father.
I enjoy the VU 268 hymn, Bring Many Names, written by Brian Wren. He names: Strong mother God, Warm father God, Old aching God, Young growing God, Great living God, to which so many names could be added.
When we speak of God in our lives, experiences and worship language limits us, God jumps out of any constraints or proposed wordings and definitions. Even when I pray the prayer of Jesus and say ‘Our Father’, the language of my ancestors in faith, I do not imagine a masculine God but rather God as Love, Spirit, Life and the One Beyond all Names.
The United Church was in the news last week concerning a minister, Gretta Vosper, a self-professed atheist. A settlement reached with her, the congregation she serves and the Toronto Conference, was announced last week. There are no details as to the settlement. Our United Church Moderator, The Right Rev. Dr. Richard Bott has written a public letter, see the link below. I was at the Quebec Presbytery last Saturday in Bromont and talked with some angry and distraught individuals present at the meeting. (I include links below for your information.) Many are concerned by this news.
On a personal note, I was welcomed some 21 years ago into the congregations of Sutton, Dunham, Granby, Abbotsford, for a seven month internship, and after that into the congregations of Crawford Park and Verdun United, now SouthWest. I have grown tremendously in my faith and experienced vital ministry. The very first hymn I learned in 1997 at Dunham United was VU 633 which in the third verse names God: Divine Eternal Lover, you meet us on the road! (Sylvia Dustan, 1989). I almost dropped the hymnbook! It was this radical edginess and deep inclusiveness that said to me: welcome to a community of faith that is generous, hospitable, growing and expanding in its language and experience of God.
Let’s talk about the news article together and affirm our confession of faith that in the beginning … God!! Hallelujah.