This is the first post of eight in a series unpacking a snapshot of my theology. For a reminder about this process, check out my post from yesterday. As a reminder from that post, what I seemed to come to land on as a core to my personal theology is the claim and concept that “God is true community.” In this post and all that follow, my initial response to each of the eight expressions will be indented. Following that, I will unpack further for purposes of my blog reflections that may not have been shared in such a fashion with my fellow classmates in the “Discourse: God” class. So, without further delay, here is what I think of and believe in articulating, God is:
Through this true community and relationship, God is creator, sustainer, reconciler, and redeemer.
We embody this in our call to love, forgive, grow and create with one another, in abundant live, and in living lives of joy.
To unpack this, and to provide some theological underpinning, I think the importance and belief of God as community reflects my belief in the Trinity. Traditionally, this is the idea and belief that God is simultaneously three persons, “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” For me, I believe this is God being in community and relationship with God’s self. Out of this relationship, I think God relates with us.
I don’t remember the idea of community being so important to me until seminary. But while at seminary and primarily working on my thesis, it became obvious. God’s work is always done collectively as a gathered and sent people. God’s promises aren’t to us individually, but to us collectively. When God says “I will be with you” and “you are mine,” God is speaking to all of God’s children. As this is the case, there is a relationship that we all have together with God in community grounded in God’s promises of forgiveness, love, and reconciliation.
The concept and idea of perichoresis comes to mind here too. Needless to say, this wasn’t a term I was very familiar with before seminary. But upon attending seminary, and studying theology especially related to mission as part of the Congregational Mission and Leadership program at Luther Seminary, that changed. The term basically describes the relationship between each of the three persons of the Godhead. I like to think of it as a good theological idea of trying to articulate and understand the community of being of God.
To take this a step further, all human community is bound to be flawed because of our human nature. This is not true though for the community of being, represented by the Trinity. Therefore, as God is in community with Godself in the three persons, all other community is called into being into relationship with the Triune God. God is the perfect community and through that community comes the hope of being able to be reconciled and redeemed. Human community then is at its best when it works to embody the acts of love, peace, reconciliation, abundance and forgiveness towards one another that can be found in God.
Musically I would regret if I didn’t mention that two hymns or worship songs come to mind when I think of my conception of “God is.” First, is Reginald Heber & John B. Dykes’ “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” You would be hard pressed to come up with a better hymn that sings praise to the Triune God. More directly related to my conception of community perhaps is another song which comes to mind, “All Are Welcome,” by Marty Haugen. The text of both of these hymns is beautiful, and the tunes are sweeping and hopeful.
As we continue this series, we will continue in a similar framework where I will offer the big overarching ideas that I presented in the class in an indented fashion, and then following that I will share more perspective. These perspectives are ones that I have after the class presentations about my own views, and will help show where my ideas have come from and how I am continually discerning and wondering related to them. Next in this series will be my pondering related to “God creates.”