Tag Archives: Father

Sunday Meditation – Thanksgiving

Pa. 1942 Thanksgiving (creative commons)

Book of Common Prayer
A Litany of Thanksgiving
836    Thanksgivings


Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so
freely bestowed upon us.

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and
sky and sea.
We thank you, Lord.

For all that is gracious in the lives of men and women,
revealing the image of Christ,
We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and
our friends,
We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,
We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and leisure to rest and play,
We thank you, Lord.

For the brave and courageous, who are patient in suffering
and faithful in adversity,
We thank you, Lord.

For all valiant seekers after truth, liberty, and justice,
We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,
We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and
promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;
To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

See also The General Thanksgiving on pages 58 and 101.
From the Book of Common Prayer online: here.

The Man Upstairs Fallacy

I have a body, you have a body, and…..

we’ve gotten used to God (the Father) having one too. “The Man Upstairs” We’ve heard this dysphemism, right?

This almighty person* of the three-in-one Godhead, who is the center of Reality, is the One Jesus invited us to respectfully, personally, and literally, address as “Dad” in our prayers.

Yep, this is probably why the male depictions crop up. And, it’s not surprising that since God has been around for quite a while (okay. That is hyperbole….it’s been forever and ever) that he would be depicted as elderly. There’s the white hair, wrinkles, and, of course mad skillz at wisdom etched in the contours of his face. He’s usually shown as robed (relaxed fit clothing , perhaps), light-skinned (really huge shock, right? Thanks, Rome.), and bearded. There’s a verse about Jesus having the hair in his beard ripped out, but God the Father having a beard, well, maybe he’s just too busy to shave? Did famous Greek Stoics look like this, so it was a jumping off point for artists? God, so many questions…

AND-Yes, curiously the depictions appear very much like Father Christmas (Santa Claus). If you think about that bit for too long, it will start to get creepy; especially with those holiday songs that include lines, “he sees you when your sleeping…” and such.

Here’s the part where I pop the fantasy bubble, like it or not.

God is not a man.

God does not have a body.

“He” isn’t “upstairs”.

That deity in art, and in our minds, looks like a human, and acts as such. It’s human created. The street term sadly, I’m sorry to say, this is, an idol. There, I said it.

More importantly to our spiritual growth, those types of pictures of God are bitty and short-changed. God does not have body parts, or biology to make God one or another gender. Jesus, and others may say “he” for God because it is a term of relationship. It is a gift of grace, goodness, and love toward us (as children) that no human father can accomplish perfectly well. But God can. God displays qualities most often distinctive to both genders respectively, and in perfection and holiness.

God is everywhere. Let’s just try to wrap our brains around this a bit, because we are not at all everywhere. I’ll just repeat it: God is everywhere. This is one big benefit a Spirit Being has, someone like “the man upstairs” is only, well, upstairs. And sometimes downstairs, but not both at the same time. This is where Deism is straight out against the Trinitarian percepts of the Bible. Deism, separates God from his creation: God-The Watchmaker. Distant, Aloof. It’s just dead wrong, because Jesus called him Father, and invited us to do so, too.

To perform an act of God in the flesh (in human form) Perfect God needed a body. So, yes, God incarnated a real human body to heal and redeem humans, body and spirit.

That incarnation: Jesus, the Anointed One.

The Holy Spirit, also a full member of the three-in-one Godhead (not just a pale bird in flight above a placid, pasty, bearded white guy often seen in artistic depictions), is the full power of God that is with us who receive God and Jesus. This Being, works on us to teach us, and transform us into Jesus’ character, what we call “Christ-likeness”.

In a recent survey, Two out of Three members of the Trinity prefer being body-free.

From Jesus, written by John in Chapter 4. Verse 23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

*(person here does not signify a human person (i.e. human individual), but instead, one with a personality. personality |ˌpərsəˈnalitē|noun ( pl. -ties)1 the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character)

Now it’s your turn.

Like me, have you ever thought of God the Father as a man? Or an old man in the sky?

Or a Being with a body?

How do you image God?

Which artistic depiction of God (shown above) do you find the strangest, or most fascinating?

All Comments welcome.

thank you.

“Is God Knowable?” (Response to reader)

Can we know God?

The easy answer would be to come out right away and say, “Yes!”

But, I won’t. I think the more honest answer is, “Yes and no.”

For one thing we can’t even know people that well. We can live with a spouse, or family member for years, and still find out new things about them, time and again. People are deep wells of information, experiences, natures, and characters… but through time and devotion, we can get to know them…. We never know them completely. What I mean is, we become thoroughly familiar with those we’ve spent plenty of time with, but it is naive to say we know them fully. 

BUT- what about God? God is SO different, right? He is UNFATHOMABLE. He created everything, and is everywhere, all-knowing, all-powerful, so says the Bible, right? How can we REALLY REALLY possibly KNOW him, right? He is beyond language. Correct? Well, the short answer is “yes, kind of.” 

God made it possible for us to have an amazing book in our reach called the Bible which talks all about him. It can’t capture him fully with words, but the narrative that runs like a river through the whole council of the Bible can loosely give a good contour of the Supreme Being that is all at once Almighty God, Father, Savior, Friend, and much more. We can’t sketch a sunset with pencil, but we can get some shapes down. We can’t use words to describe what tasting coffee is truly like, but with words, we can outline a bit what the aroma is like, and how good a warm cup tastes and feels when it is drank. One can imagine well what it is REALLY like based on a word description. So too with God. The reality of him can be known, but not fully grasped. He is knowable, but not fully comprehendible. It is limited knowledge, but entirely useful.

Let us not dismiss some of our best ways to encounter God by calling them shoddy when we use and trust language for so much else. It is on the basis of language, words, and propositions, that we first encounter all our initial ideas before they are incorporated into our lives. They are a starting point, not the end all be all to knowing God. Like any complex relationship, knowing God involves invests of time and devotion, not just mere research.

Do you know God? How have you encountered him? Feel free to leave your comments.