Harvest season is drawing to a close, with its celebration of the riches of colour and flavour, thankfulness care for others, but this year I’ve also enjoyed having space to think about different ways of thinking about God … and the language I use for doing it.
I admit I tend to revert to thinking of God as Father more than I should in the interests of inclusive language, probably mainly because I was blessed with a good one and it conjures positive thoughts of strength, nurture, encouragement and challenge and so I find it helpful to sometimes make an effort to expand my vision of “Godness”. Harvest is an opportunity that leads naturally to:
Creator: which leads naturally into worship, but also reminds us that we are created (or creatures), and encourages us to remember that God is always “other”, beyond our imaginings, and that our language can never be enough to fully acknowledge, let alone describe, God.
Provider: a good thought to lead us into thanksgiving, the realization that we are given everything by God’s generosity and grace: a place to be, a “back story” and identity, a community/ies (through our family, our work, our church, our interests), a role and hope for the future.
Sustainer: God is transcendent but not distant, he is imminently involved in this world, so that it is filled with potential for life and flourishing, but also for beauty, for love and for healing. God sustains us too and each day is filled with potential to grow closer in our relationship.
But how about some other descriptions:
Preparer of ground: at harvest we think of the gifts of the weather, the rain to soften the earth and water the growing crops, the snow and freezing that kills off some of the pests, the warmth that germinates the seeds – but how about the life experiences where, on reflection, we find that we have been prepared for the tasks and challenges that face us, or that we are able to offer comfort to others going through similar times?
Seed-planter: seeds grow in the soil, the seed of the gospel grows in our hearts – and seeds are carried on the wind, by insects, or fall to the ground where they grow. God finds different ways to sow the seeds of his kingdom, so each of us can play our part.
Pruner: pruning always looks so extreme to me (a non-gardener!), as the plant is trimmed back to the essentials but it enables fresh shoots, strong re-growth and increased health and flourishing. It’s easy to fall into the habit of thinking of God as being at our beck and call, to answer our prayers and care for us, but sometimes pruning needs to happen …
Variety giver – it’s not just about fruit and veg, humans share in God’s likeness in all our variety, responding to different conditions, our individuals gifts and quirks adding flavour and interest to life.
Painter – autumn is such a beautiful season – not just the range of colours, but the richness of the sounds as leaves crunch underfoot and we become aware of the sounds of nature around us unimpeded by the sounds of lawnmowers – but sometimes the beauty lies in the contrasts and changes of perspective as in the overall tableau.
Sculptor – not just trees and mountains, but wonky fruit! How reassuring to remember that even wonkiness is included in God’s harvest so that even when we feel wonky, God still loves us just as much!