God's Calling ~ Knowing God's Name
This week we are turning toward and tuning our hearts to various names of God; the One who said, “I AM” as the divine name. Yesterday we held the images of God as Eternal Spirit and Earth-maker. Today, we open to the next two ways the New Zealand prayer describes God as:
Pain bearer and Life-giver
What are your initial responses to these images of the Holy?
What would it mean for God to be the pain-bearer? What about life-giver?
I find the phrase, Pain-bearer complex. Part of me rejoices that God is there in the deepest, darkest valleys of life when I am stumbling and staggering around. I give thanks that God’s love is found in a cross ~ not because God had an accounting problem to solve but because God was willing to embody and embrace suffering to show us that there is nowhere God is not. I am grateful that the stress and strain of life today can be sacred. Richard Rohr says that moments of great love and great pain show us God. Yet, as a church, we have emphasized the love…not so much the pain. Because of that, to call God, Pain-bearer sounds peculiar and puzzling. God is supposed to be a mighty fortress and omnipotent and Superman times Wonder Woman with all the intelligence/strength of Black Panther. What if God isn’t a superhero or shero? What if God’s super strength is to hear and hold the suffering of this world? What if God’s grace isn’t power and privilege but powerlessness and vulnerability?
Wait…that isn’t the God we sing or preach about. Maybe that is on us ~ not God. Let that image of God Pain-bearer roam and rummage around your life right now…meeting you especially in the difficulty, disappointments, and discouragements of today.
Out of pain comes life ~ just ask any woman who has given birth. To be sure, not all pain leads to new life; but some does. I think about the pain of this last year giving life to:
Bible study with people across the country on Zoom;
New ministries like these morning meditations;
Funerals that can connect us to celebrate the life of God’s beloved;
Our Creation-Justice Covenant, Open & Affirming Covenant, and Racial Justice Ministry Group;
Sacred Conversations on Race;
Oasis Ministry beginning to grow;
And so much more!!
In what ways has your life reflected the truths of God being the Pain-bearer AND Life-giver? When have you sensed God as Pain-bearer and Life-giver as interconnected? When have your experiences and encounters with the Divine in suffering and new life been distinctive?
Prayer: God who is in all, even the broken and bruised, help us continually stay open to You in all the wonderous and mysterious ways we can connect. Amen.