Compassionate and Gracious

ETA - 4 June 2023

Trinity Sunday

What is God life? When I was a kid, I had a pretty clear idea. God was an old dude with a long white beard. He sat on a big golden chair. He had a kindly face, but a really short fuse. He seemed to get ticked off by almost anything at all. Very temperamental.

Does this sound familiar?

Kids are / tend to be “hyper-literal” – so we need to be very careful with the images that we share with them. We don’t want them to have to ‘unlearn’ a whole bunch of stuff.

So – what is God like for you? Have your ideas changed as you got older. Maybe you are less comfortable with calling God him all the time? Maybe the whole concept of God is a whole lot looser than it was as kids?

Maybe we should look at what God actually says about God.

That is our first reading today, from Exodus 34. This is the first time that god actually tells us what he is like.

[An aside: the first time God is named in the bible, it is by an Egyptian slave woman called Hagar, and she has been driven into Exile by Abraham’s wife, Sarah. She is near death and doesn’t feel that she is seen, until God intervenes and takes care of her. So she calls God, “El Roi” – the God who sees.]

Moses is up on the mountain, while all the people are down on the plain. They have just committed to the covenant partnership – and immediately they stuff it all up big-time, by building an idol to worship, and so break the first two commandments.

God and Moses have a very forthright convo, and as part of that, God tells Moses who he really is:

Yahweh, Yahweh, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, overflowing with loyal love and faithfulness.

God is: compassionate (rakhum ~ rakhem = womb) and gracious, (khen) slow to anger, (‘erek ‘apayim) overflowing with loyal love (khesed) and faithfulness (emet ~ amen).

Our Gospel drives this home – For God so loved the world…

Love is not primarily an emotion, but a relationship.

God is inviting us deeper into friendship.

More information about God’s image in the Bible:

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