Happy belated Father's Day to all those father's out there. I had a great time with my boys however I reflected more than usual on the short amount of years I had with my father. I remember we decided not to attend church the first Father's Day after he died as it was just too hard. However as years passed my family did start attending church on Father's Day again. I remember distinctly crying my eyes out when the hymn "This is My Father's World" was played. It written as a poem by Maltbie Davenport Babcock and was set to music by Franklin L. Sheppard in 1915. Here is a great video of it if you haven't heard it by Fountainview Academy.
For me I had a loving, generous, hardworking, and caring father. It was easy for me to think of God as a father because of the relationship I had experienced. However many have not had the same experience and relating God to a father may be difficult and put strain in their spiritual relationship with the divine. As a follower of Christ I must acknowledge words mean a lot and can cause much pain to people when they are used in the wrong context or cause past memories to surface. I believe churches have an obligation to try to bring wholeness to as many people as possible which means language plays an instrumental role. It is through our language where we hear who God is in our lives. It is through language in which we creatively understand our experiences with the divine. Often times we get stuck on tradition including our language instead of moving with the spirit of love and peace.
In Community of Christ Sings the lyrics for "This is My Father's World" were changed to be more inclusive and sensitive to those who do not experience the divine as a father. It is now "This is God's Wondrous World". Though I will always relate this song to my father I am extremely proud of the the change that has occurred because it shows an awareness to the use of language in our lives. When we are sensitive to the needs of others and take action toward those sensitivities, than we are walking in the Saviors stead.
There will be some who disagree with this and only see God as a man. Changing the words is not a challenge to your own perception rather an acknowledgment that it can cause deep pain in others. Continue to view God in your way, but know your perception is not the only one. If we as disciples can create healing relationships and acknowledge others perspectives different than our own than we are following Jesus.
What relationship do you equate with the divine?
Is there language you use that may cause deep pain in others?
How can you bring wholeness to others through your words?
I appreciate everyone who continues to spread hope and love in this world during this year where life has been turned upside down.
This week reflect on how you use language and take measures to make it more inclusive.
The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of Community of Christ. We believe individuals should be allowed to have their own opinions and be at different places in their faith journey.