Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

O Adonai, O Leader ~ December 18



Marc Chagall ~ Moses & The Burning Bush 1966

O Adonai and leader of Israel, you appeared to Moses in a burning bush and you gave him the Law on Sinai. O come and save us with your mighty power.

Here is Moses before God's appearing in the Burning Bush. He has removed his shoes in such a Presence, and his hand is over heart. Chagall has painted God's name appearing out of the flaming bush. But God doesn't really give his name when Moses asks, "Who should I say sends me?"  God answers mysteriously, "Tell Pharaoh, I am, sent you."  Exodus 3

God's name is ineffable: beyond words, indescribable, un-unutterable. That's why some Jews spell the divine word: G-d. We're little; God is big. So as a kind of holy way around using the unutterable name, ancient Jews came up with substitutes, and Adonai is one of those names. We might translate it Lord or Leader.

But in calling Jesus Adonai, we're acknowledging who he is. God no longer wears even the cover or disguise of a flaming bush. Now, in Christ, God has turned to us full-faced, showing himself utterly, but in vulnerabilty and littleness. We say God doesn't change, but here there's clearly at least a new tactic. What is unchanged about God is what God desires for us, God's love for us. I'm thinking of parents or spouses who have tried everything for the sake of the ones they love. God is like that.

Maybe this Jewish naming of God gives us the go-ahead to name God for ourselves, but without relying on God-sounding words or religion-speak. "What a friend we have in Jesus." One author refers to Jesus as "the world's darling." Kind of a 1940's sound. I like that. Was it Saint Seraphim who prayed, "Jesus, my joy."

And as Jesus is being called upon as Leader in this antiphon, then we can pray: lead me from and lead me to.... But I've got to be really honest and know myself well if I'm going to call upon Jesus as leader. Of course: Jesus lead me to heaven. But long before that...


Jesus, lead me from dissatisfaction to...
Jesus, lead me from confusion to...
Jesus, lead me out of guilt to...
Jesus, lead me out of depression to...

Jesus, lead me out of this indifference to...
Jesus, lead me out of hostility to...
Jesus, lead me away from stereotyping to...
Jesus, lead me from labeling to...

Jesus, lead this family to strength.
Jesus, lead us to your new heart.
Jesus, lead us to encouragement.
Jesus, lead us to self-knowledge.


And out of self-knowledge, Jesus, lead us to repentance where it

is needed...as church....as nation...as planet!



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