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Notes from the River Green April 28th

Church will reopen for in-person worship this Sunday provided the numbers on Friday stay within our safe range. I will send an email sometime Friday morning as soon as the numbers are available. If it's a GO, the sign up will be on the website, and I’ll also give you a direct link.

Thank you to all who attended the Vision session. Attached are some notes that came out of the conversation. They don’t capture the spirit of the conversation completely, but do give us a good idea. If you want to hear more, ask me or one of the Vision Transition team. After the Vision Transition team digests this information, you’ll be hearing more.

God language: Today I begin some musings about God language that may last over several weeks.

Let us begin with these two assumptions:


  • Language is simply inadequate to describe God and matters of the spirit.

  • Language develops from metaphor: we try to say more abstract things are like more concrete things because we cannot possibly directly name the abstract.


Every metaphor we use has both benefits and limitations. For example, to describe the experience of a cancer patient with her cancer as a “battle” or a “war” may be very accurate in terms of the focus and energy and devotion it requires, but what does it mean when cancer takes over? Have we “lost?” Is someone judged a less effective “fighter?” Does this end up blaming the cancer patient as if they did somehow not try hard enough or have the right attitude?

The use of “he” for God is simply a metaphor. It is using what we know of human life to attach to God. Likewise “she.” In both cases there are helpful images that ensure—God as father or warrior, God as mother or tender. But we must always also attend to the limitations of these metaphors. For those who grew up with an abusive parent, these images may be very limiting. If we use primarily male images, do we limit our conception of God to roles the culture has taught us are more “male?”

While God may be like humans (male or female) in the sense of being animate, emotional, creative, self-conscious and self-directing; God is also not like us—not finite, not egocentric, not embodied, not gendered, not--well-- human.

This week’s invitation is simply to pay attention to the metaphors we use for God and ask the question: In what way is this metaphor helpful, and in what way is it limiting?

Here is a joyful video of dancing.

And this week's sermon is about being guided and taught in the faith, which made me think of the Gospel classic, Order My Steps. Listen here.

--

Peace and Grace Susan Townsley Pastor, South Congregational Church, Kennebunkport

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