In a moment of candor, a precocious seven year old girl confided to me that she liked the world very much because it was sooooo interesting, but she wasn’t so sure about heaven. She thought that heaven was very dull.” Why so?” I asked. “Because God is dull,” she shot back. “God never changes, and the same old thing, day after day, is dull.”
I have no doubt that some of us are like that seven year old when it comes to God, unsure of God as being lovable and absorbing.
God, in classical theological language, is often portrayed in bigger than life terms” all-knowing, all-seeing, without beginning or end. Many of us know the biblical phrase “yesterday, today and tomorrow are all the same with God”(Heb. 3.8) or “a thousand days with the Lord are as one.”(Ps.90.4)
We can’t wrap our arms around these concepts like we wrap our arms around a person. These words overwhelm us who travel through life an inch at a time, sometimes with our horizon only as far as the end of our nose.
Yet, in today’s Gospel. Jesus prays: “Father, I have revealed your name to them and I will continue to reveal it…”(John 17.26)
So what are some of the names of God and what are the characteristics of God that can appeal to us, make us excited, warm and eager over God? What are some of the embraceable qualities of God?
Our God is a learning God… God in Jesus, who came to teach us the ways of truth, justice and integrity, first had to learn what these meant in human terms.
Our God is a laughing God… the 14th Century mystic Meister Eckhart in a poetic moment says “The whole Trinity laughs and gives birth to us.” God’s sense of humor is rich and deep. Take a look at creation!
Our God is the Great Attractor…like fragrant flowers attract bees and hummingbirds, God attracts us if we allow it. Do we allow ourselves to be attracted by God?
Our God treasures the useless…Our age and place in the world are enamored of the useful, the practical and the productive. Our judgments of value are wrapped up in utility. Sometimes people say they hate that part of themselves they consider useless. Sometimes, old people describe themselves as useless- as if that’s bad. But our God values the very being of all that is. It is enough to be.
We cannot exhaust God, because God’s originality and freshness keep surprising us. As the playwright Christopher Fry noted: in our time and place “The enterprise is exploration into God.”
In this week before Pentecost, as we pray a welcome for God’s Spirit in our world, our church, our lives, let us also pray a welcome for God as God is, beyond our well-defined categories. Let us let God be God.
-Sister Joan Sobala