The expansiveness of God — and language

Thomas/Pixabay Thomas/Pixabay

Recently a theologian I respect and whose blog I read almost daily used the pronouns “they” and “them” for God. To me, it was a new thought that immediately made sense. Of course, God is “they/them/their/thee”!

I’ve worshiped God all my life as the Three-in-One: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; Creator, Sustainer and Comforter. Our one God is many, reaching out in every way possible to help us know a divine expansiveness that flows in relationship, with many aspects of holiness beyond anything we can imagine.

The three names that define different aspects of God enable us to come to God in all our myriad needs:
— as a child and one who longs to be created anew;
— as one who needs the example of Jesus to know how to think and live;
— as one who cannot do this life alone and is comforted to know the Spirit never leaves us.

The example of a relationship that flows with many aspects of personality and gifts, shown in the Trinity, encourages me to live fully.

Thinking about the expansiveness of God sent me on a whirlwind through my scriptural memory of other images that have comforted and challenged me. God is also likened to a lion, lamb, wind, silence, rock, eagle, hen, shepherd, servant, master, provider, almighty power, compassionate love, bread of life, one who weeps and laughs, Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end).

This made me think more about the they/them pronouns I’ve been seeing after signatures on emails and Zoom identities. I remembered being asked why an attender of our church uses they/them pronouns. Seeing the relevance of they/them for God made me curious as well, so we asked that person to talk to us about it in our education hour on a Sunday morning.

I learned that they/them is the most common nonbinary pronoun choice. It is also a gender-neutral pronoun when someone’s pronouns are not known. It’s used by people who feel their gender is neither male nor female or who feel they embody both male and female. It’s also appropriate for those whose gender feels fluid.

Desiring to share God’s acceptance and unconditional love with whoever walks into my life and into our church, I looked up the latest list of letters that identify categories of people in the LGBTQ community. I found that it’s grown to LBGTQQIP2SAA, which stands for lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, pansexual, two-spirit, androgynous and asexual. I had to look up what some of those meant. Each letter represents a unique group of people, and each person within these groups is a unique child of God.

As we celebrate our diversity, accepting each person created by God and loved by Jesus, the work of learning to call people what they want to be called, and why, is important. I’m grateful for all who teach me and walk with me as I learn.

Sandra Drescher-Lehman is pastor of Methacton Mennonite Church in Norristown, Pa., a member of Mosaic Mennonite Conference of Mennonite Church USA.

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