is not only male. Nor is she only female. He and she is beyond pronouns or titles like Mother or Father, but since I have positive relationships with both of my parents, I can accept that God is a prodigal father; a nurturing mother; a hen sheltering her chicks; a gentle shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine and looks for the one who is lost; a Tender-God.
The God in whom I believe is also known as Jesus, our brother, who constantly underlines peace, forgiveness, compassion, and love, and who experienced human life and its joys and struggles not to become a king over us, but to be in solidarity with us.
The God in whom I believe is a Holy and Creative Spirit, present always, but especially in beauty, joy, consolation, inspiration, unity and community.
The God in whom I believe is always with me as my best friend, and has an amazing sense of humour!
The God in whom I believe is not greater or stronger or higher or better in any way than the God of Aboriginal Peoples, Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, or any other faith or denomination. She and he is one and the same God, a God who excludes no one.
The God in whom I believe is a personal God. Not someone way out there, so almighty, fearsome and far beyond me that I have to constantly grovel and bow in his or her presence, but someone who would prefer to sit with me, hold my hand, and look me in the eye as we speak. And that God wants to be just as intimate with everybody else, too.
The God in whom I believe is present in everyone around me; in everyone on the planet.
The God in whom I believe knows his and her greatness, and doesn't need to be reminded of it in every sentence I speak. My God appreciates simplicity over verbosity, and knows that the human heart carries enough clutter without having to stutter through pompous and lengthy liturgical prayers that use archaic words like consubstantial. Deeper etymological and theological meanings of language are better understood by God than by us, and God probably doesn't mind if the words we use to address her and him aren't perfect, church-sanctioned descriptions of the indescribable. I suspect that God doesn't listen for the words as much as for the love with which they are spoken.
The God in whom I believe understands that the word 'men' is NOT an inclusive word, and that women are not men any more than men are women. He and she also knows only too well all the damage that has been done by male-dominated social structures throughout the millennia, and grieves those injustices. Even so, she and he continues to call both men and women to serve each other through the priesthood, or as lay people who are also priests, prophets and holy royalty in our own right. God rejoices when we are willing and able to live our vocations, whether female or male, single or married, lay or religious.
The God in whom I believe is a forgiving God. Forgiving before I even ask for forgiveness, and certainly not expecting me to self-flagellate because I have sinned through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. I suspect God appreciates it when we admit our mistakes, say we're sorry, and make things right, but he and she also doesn't want us to be immobilized by our failures. One apology is enough, and this business of breast beating? So middle ages. Our forgiving God knows that the hardest thing is to forgive ourselves, and doesn't pile on more guilt.
The God in whom I believe is a lover more than a judge. As a lover, she and he woos us with sunsets, gifts us with life in an incredible world, and creates human love to show us the overarching love behind all that is. He and she isn't so hung up on the things human beings hang ourselves up on. She and he isn't interested in any dogma or doctrine other than "Love God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbour as you love yourself." God simply wants us to act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly with everything that lives -- no matter the species, size, shape, color, gender, sexual preference or stance taken on any topic we care to name.
The God in whom I believe doesn't force anything, but allows us to choose -- life or death, light or darkness, peace or violence, love or fear -- hoping that we will choose what's best for the sake of everything he and she created.
The God in whom I believe is more interested in action than words; more concerned about service than worship; more anxious that we seek the lost than that we pray perfectly-phrased prayers; more involved in our redemption than our rules.
But my church seems to be assuming the reverse.
My consolation? I know I'm not alone in knowing the God I in whom I believe, because I have learned of God from others who have shown her and him to me. And our God, who laughs and cries with us in our delight and our struggles, understands us and everything else better than we ever will.