This series of blogs are responses from congregation members to drawings created by Enrique, one of our children, and his mother Katie. One Sunday in worship during the children’s conversation, we created a list of names for God. The congregation voiced the names they use for God. As our worship continued, Enrique and his mom created images of how they see and experience these various names of God.
In this blog entry, Martha has responded to the drawing of God as God. I sent her questions and she has answered them in her own way, challenging us to reflect upon the entirety of the Hebraic tradition. I am always grateful for the way in which Martha reminds us that we are connected spiritually with our Islamic brothers and sisters, going back to Genesis, to the siblings Isaac and Ishmael. Here is her response and challenge for us this day:
Not too long ago, I received a writing request from our pastor. She invited me to write about images of God. It was a hard assignment, and I didn’t do it . . . then. Upon her persistence, here it is now, with a challenge.
I grew up in a Roman Catholic family and went to Catholic school for 10 years, until our high school was closed. God was that stern old man with a flowing white beard, smiting those who angered him. Or the Jesus on the cross over the altar, with nails in his hands and blood dripping down his face. Or a baby boy or young man riding a donkey. God had a body, and it was male. (To be honest, I am convinced, popular theology aside, that God is indeed male. Think about it. Childbirth? Hormones? War? No female god would have come up with those ideas.)
When I took a course in Islam at Bangor Theological Seminary, I learned that God indeed comes with many more images. Ninety-nine are included in the Quran. One of my copies of the Quran takes three pages of index to list them all.
“Allah has described Himself in the Quran through His Names and Attributes. Muslims believe that studying these Names and Attributes is one of the most effective ways of strengthening one’s relationship with God. Each Name and Attribute nourishes a kind of consciousness and humility in man and their study leads one to constantly better their actions.”
Muslims are asked to call upon God during their supplications by the most appropriate names that relate to what they are asking for. For example, if one is seeking forgiveness from God for a sin they have committed, they would call upon Him by His name ‘Al-Ghaffar,’ meaning ‘The Ever Forgiving.’ If one is asking for peace and tranquility in their life while experiencing a period of tension, they would call on God by His name ‘As-Salaam,’ meaning ‘The Ultimate Source of Peace.’”
My assignment to you is to select an image from the table in the article and reflect upon it. Share your reflections here if you wish.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.