Rev. Dr. Martha Jacobs
Who is God for You?
Psalm 23, Matthew 3:13-17
May 7, 2017
I’ve been asked recently if I would consider leading a “Confirmation 101” or “Confirmation Lite” for adults. I have become more and more intrigued about this, because we all come from different backgrounds. Some of us have been engaged with the UCC for our whole lives. Others, like me, have come from different religions. Some of us have come from different denominations. And, others have come from no religious upbringing – which is why the UCC saying, “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here” is so fitting for our church community.
The other reason it has intrigued me is because I had been thinking about this, when Carl Thorsberg said to me, as we were driving back from Boston with the confirmation class, that our adult members should experience City Reach – the group we worked with while we were in Boston. So, as most of you know, when those kinds of coincidental comments from the outside and thoughts from my inside match up, I know that God is leading us to something different or something new. As this has ruminated inside of me, the question for our dialogue came to mind, in part, I think, because it is one of the questions I engage with our Confirmation Class.
So, this morning, I’d like us to have a dialogue about who God is for you. As I have worked with our Confirmation Classes over the last 4 years, I have learned about a God who is much more expansive that I had ever contemplated. Stephanie Miller was in the first Confirmation Class I led and I want to relate a conversation that we had on Friday afternoon during one of the lulls at Barn Sale.
I asked her who God was for her, and initially, Stephanie shrugged, but then she said, “A unicorn maybe.” And then she said, something like, “I guess that’s not the right answer.” I replied that God is whoever you need God to be. I gave the example of an abused woman who would have a really hard time trusting and turning to a male God and so a female image might help her to form or deepen her relationship with God.
Well, as we talked, it became more apparent to me that God really is whoever we each need God to be and that may be very different for each one of us. In order for us to feel comfortable talking with God about our most intimate fears, questions and concerns, we need to be able to relate to God in a way that works for us and is comfortable for each of us. And because we are all different, it makes sense that God too needs to be able to adapt to meet our differing needs.
So, what do you think? Do you think God can be different for each one of us? And if so, who is God for you?
As I thought more about my conversation with Stephanie and our entire service this morning, I realized that where we come together, no matter what our vision or experience of God might be, is at the celebration of the two rites of our church that we are participating in today – baptism and communion. Through our baptism when we are infants, our parents make a promise to raise us as best as they can to help us to get to know God. And, then, when we are confirmed, we are make a promise ourselves – to continue to seek to care for others as God would have us do so. Through the water of our baptism we find common ground to work together to serve those who are most in need. And, through communion, Jesus invites us all to his table, no matter who we are or where we are on our journey. And at this table, we become one in the celebration of the bread and the cup. How awesome is that!