Prayerful Tuesday: The many images of God and the Lord’s Prayer

I apologize upfront today. I am going to totally focus on a Christian tradition because I have both a rant and a gift. And, it is my tradition and the one I know best. Please bear with me.

The Lord's Prayer is the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples to pray. It is very traditional within Christian practice. I think it is the only thing we have in common across denominations. Everyone says a version of this most of the time. There are always outliers.

However, one of the harmful byproducts is that it has planted the language of God=father into our psyche so strongly that we cannot see the divine feminine of God or see the God in women. This has to stop. We know, scholars-pastors-leaders know, that there are more images of God in the Bible than what is captured in that one short sentence found in Matthew 6:9 or Luke 11:2. On the short list for images of God that are feminine:

  • God as mother bird in Ruth 2:12, Psalm 17:8, 57:1, 91:4, Matthew 23:37, Luke 13:34 , Deuteronomy 32:10-11
  • God as ferocious mother bear in Hosea 13:8
  • God as human mother in Isaiah 42:14, 66:13, 49:15

All scripture describing God as womanly. Motherly. i.e. Not fatherly. Plus and also, the very beginning of the Bible says that man and woman were created in the image of God. So focusing on father only is idolatry. I'm just sayin'.

So how do we take a deep Christian tradition, that crosses denominations, and that seems to be foundational to the practice of Christianity? Use other translations. Look at poets, philosophers, musicians. There are a billion versions out there (ok, a little exaggeration there) that embrace the totality of the image of God. It is not heresy, no matter what church structures and law-givers will say.

And so, today and going forward for a few weeks, I will be offering different translations of the Lord's Prayer that offer a variety of images and ideas. Today's prayer comes from Parker Palmer.

Heavenly Father, heavenly Mother,
Holy and blessed is your true name.
We pray for your reign of peace to come,
We pray that your good will be done,
Let heaven and earth become one.
Give us this day the bread we need,
Give it to those who have none.
Let forgiveness flow like a river between us,
From each one to each one.
Lead us to holy innocence
Beyond the evil of our days —
Come swiftly Mother, Father, come.
For yours is the power and the glory and the mercy:
Forever your name is All in One.

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