Brothers and sisters, siblings in Christ,
This time of year, every month has something to look forward to: back to school, TrinityFEST, Reformation, Halloween, All Saints, Thanksgiving, Christmas, the New Year. This is Ted’s and my third autumn in the Valley, and we are captivated by color, art shows and community festivals. There is something about the leaves, the smell in the air, the taste of fall harvest, along with the sense of a worshipping community returning home after summer, that adds up to something lush and kaleidoscopic.
This time of year, we get a rich sense of God active in the world: painting the creation gold and orange, abundant garden harvests to sustain us over the winter, joy and beauty that come with the feast days.
If we pay attention, we can allow ourselves to be drawn beyond a traditional, narrow image of God. We love the “omni” words: omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient and so on. We want a God that is big, powerful and in control. And generally assumed to be male. It’s easy to forget the rich array of God’s other characteristics—all of which are present in the Bible—all of which are necessary for life. Eternally faithful despite human inclination to constantly turn our back. Tending us as a mother hen gathering her chicks under her wings. Pitching a tent right in the middle of humanity and living among us just as we live. Honoring children. Weeping over humanity. Human flesh and burning spirit. Birthing creation in its vast, innumerable variety. (Did you know there are over 60,000 known species of trees?!)
Traditional images of God can impose a limit on God that isn’t real and leaves people confounded or left behind. While we have historically adopted the language of Father as a complimentary partner to Jesus’ earthly mother, God does not have a gender. God created all human beings in God’s image; all human beings bear the imprint of God. Male and female, tall, short, fat, thin, dark, pale, parental, scholarly, creative, stern, compassionate and unfailingly tender. It would be impossible to draw a portrait of God because to do so would have to include an image of every single created thing. What a painting that would be! And what a joy to imagine!
This fall, as you watch the colors erupt and pumpkins appear on front steps, as you smell cinnamon and kiss the head of any newborn, imagine that you are seeing, smelling, hearing, touching and tasting God in all that God is. And know that even so, God is so much more.
And that “more” loves you.