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EXPANSIVE LANGUAGE FOR GOD


Andrei Rublev’s Troitsa - Russian for Trinity (1411-1425) A Trinitarian interpretation of Genesis 18:1-16, the Divine strangers who visit Abraham and Sarah. Note they are leaning in, almost listening to each other and as a reflection of shared power, Jesus is at the center Father and Spirit are either side. The icon urges you to sit at the table with the Holy Community.)


Language is powerful. Words help us communicate about things that matter to us. At St. Matthew’s we are dedicated to expanding our language, metaphors, and adjectives that names God and God’s work in the world. Moving past religious jargon, we long to speak of God in faithful ways that communicate God’s restorative and inclusive presence. Marva Dawn explains, “Expansive language aims to use as many names and metaphors for God as possible; to stretch the imagination towards God, in order to allow our minds and our mouths to discover that alongside the comfort of loved and familiar imagery, there is also novelty, shock, challenge and joyful surprise in our encounter with the Divine. If we limit our language for political, pastoral or personal reasons we run the risk of domesticating God, or even of making God in our own image. But the beauty of expansive language is that rather than limiting the range of language and metaphor available to us, it opens up many more possibilities. Rather than excluding or excising difficult terms, they are brought into balance by contextualizing them within a broad range of language that doesn’t privilege one name above another. Formulations such as Creator-Redeemer-Sustainer become less loaded with theological problems if they are used alongside other names such as Donne’s “three person’d God”, or the abundance of metaphor within the pages of scripture – God is a rock, God is water, God is a shepherd, a lioness, a mother hen. Traditional names such as Father or Lord can find their place when they are moderated by the use of a plethora of other names, which together serve as a constant reminder that God is far bigger than any one of them. And we are able to engage in a “conversation with the Saints” by reading historical texts, in the language of other ages, thus recognizing that our faith is not merely of the moment, but has an enduring quality.” Marva Dawn Full Article


We are held in the love and grace of the

Triune God,

CREATOR, LIBERATOR and HOLY COMPANION. Amen.


As you worship at St. Matthew’s you will notice that we use different translations of the Bible. These days we are using the New Revised Standard Version and the The Inclusive Bible: First Egalitarian Translation. The Inclusive Bible is new and not yet accessible in an on-line format. This translation is faithful to the original texts, while offering a fresh look at language that has historically created barriers between readers and the text. You will notice Abraham AND Sarah are mentioned, masculine pronouns are replaced with gender-neutral references when appropriate and the Old Testament is referred to as the Hebwew Scriptures. The name for God throughout the Hebrew scriptures is YHWH (the Hebrew reference for God that does not use vowels, since God’s name is not to be spoken, but breathed). YHWH mimics the sound of our inhale and our exhale.


We gather in the name of the Father, Son

and Holy Spirit, ONE God, Mother of us all. Amen.



A church within the
Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA)

CONTACT INFO

1700 Edmonds Ave NE
Renton, WA  98056
Phone: (425) 226-2420

connect@stmatthewsrenton.org

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*Due to the pandemic, our office is closed to the pubic. Our staff is available and ready to connect with you. Please call or email!

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