Images of the Invisible – reflections on the Biblical images of God
In Advent, a group from St Mary Magdalene with St John the Evangelist, Hucknall, read Amy Scott Robinson’s book, Images of the Invisible. Here are their reflections on the Biblical images of God.
The book describes how we came into the world naked, and through God we were clothed. He then keeps a watch on us through life, he is not bothered whether we turn up to a wedding in work clothes or we are well ‘Suited & Booted’. There are some clothes we get affectionately attached to, for instance a football or college scarf, and it is a reminder of God’s Love to us all.
Thank you for introducing us to Amy’s book – so many meaningful images and prayers.
God as mother was the chapter that had the biggest impact on me, speaking of God’s compassion.
When dear ones are suffering, and at times when I am aware that our adult children are making mistakes, I want to protect them from harm. This chapter helps by showing me that the feelings I sometimes experience, may share in a small way with how God feels when things are going wrong in the world. God as Mother shows compassion; He suffers with us and for us. In a similar way, there are times when we suffer with and for our dear ones.
There are several images that have stayed with me.
Imagining the Creator of the universe looking down at the unrest and disobedience among the people on planet earth. They need somewhere to worship. God is the Architect tells them exactly how high, how wide how deep to build a place to worship Him the one true God. He tells them what to put in it. He is the Cornerstone too.
God watching over all creation, but particularly Earth, groaning with the effort to keep it and us in balance under the strain of wars, rebellion, pollution, deforestation, famine, drought, flood all man caused and an out of control virus illness. We seek forgiveness for our bad human behaviour. The midwife breathes with us to calm our fears and in a quiet place we listen and seek forgiveness and hope.
Lamb and Shepherd – I cannot think of one without the other.
The Lamb, sent by God to die as a sacrifice on a cross to save us from our sin. Every communion service we are reminded of this. We go astray, we get lost and stray from the true path, but the Shepherd shows us the way back and we are forgiven, again and again.
It is suggested that God is a door for us, the sheep, to pass through. So we are the sheep. But I have another image in my head of a man with a lamp standing outside a door without a knocker or key hole in it waiting patiently for it to be opened.
The “light of the world”, by which to seek and find that Door is waiting for us to knock on it and be open for us to welcome the Spirit into our lives.
My favourite metaphor was the Metal Worker. It spoke directly into how I had been feeling before Christmas. Wanting and seeking God so hard that I couldn’t see I was attempting to find Him by my own strength. Looking for Him in places I expected to find Him rather than allowing Him to find me or being open to seeing Him in the unexpected. I had become unyielding and inflexible like hard metal.
It was so reassuring to understand that it didn’t matter how unyielding we are, God is willing to work hard to mould us into what He wants us to be -even if that means softening us in the furnace and beating us into shape. He is willing to work as hard as is necessary. it also teaches us that as God is willing to work with us, we should be willing to work with those we find difficult and unyielding. To continue even if it is hard work knowing that God will be working on them and that He will transform them so all we need to do is be patient until that happens.
As I reflect back on the various aspects of my life I can see how God has put me in different situations and with different people that have directed, moulded and shaped my life – both at work and socially, from a very young age onwards – each of them putting their own thumb print on me to influence me.
Also I can see that through my work with youngsters – both in the Youth Club and my volunteering role I have discerned ways of helping young people with their lives – in some cases influencing their careers by putting my thumb print on them
This passage has brought home to me the many and varied images there are for God and how he comes into our lives in different forms to direct us and also uses us to direct the path of others.
Reading this brought back memories of my Dad, who was a wonderful gardener growing loads of vegetables & fruit which he would share with not just the family but others also.
It also made me reflect on the comfort my little garden brought me in the lockdown in the spring, planting things I have not grown before, and watching them grow – like people growing in faith. Also it was good to watch and tend God’s beautiful flowers as they grew from small seed and bulbs to full blossom flowers. All of this was accompanied by the birds coming to feed at the various feeders around the garden – they are doing more so now as their natural food sources diminish
I give thanks for all God’s gifts and help.
I love the image of the weaving loom hanging in the tent/home and building up the pattern. It made me re-examine the pattern of my favourite jumper I take for granted. The book has made me more aware of the descriptions of God in the Bible I take for granted as ways of seeing God.
I’m not good at putting things into words but I think God the creator is my favourite as he created everything and gave us talents to use to create things. If it wasn’t for God creating Heaven and Earth and all the beautiful things in earth we would not be here. We have a lot to thank God for. All the images mean something to me but this one stands out.
As I read these pages, I was reminded of a small, dark semi-detached house in Irlam, west of Manchester. My grandma, Martha Ellen, lived there from 1950 to 1973, when she left Lancashire to live with my mum and dad in Walesby, near Retford.
The hallway in Irlam was poorly lit, with dark brown paint and shabby wallpaper, and stairs rising to my right, with creaking treads which carried me to the landing. Then the small bedroom where I sometimes slept during visits.
On the wall at the top of the stairs a print hung in a cheap frame; a copy of a painting by Holman Hunt, Pre-Raphaelite painter 1827-1910.
The Light of the World shows Jesus standing outside a rustic door. He holds a lantern in one hand, with the other raised to knock, but his eyes are fixed on us, while he waits politely.
The path is overgrown with weeds and thistles. suggesting few if any visitors. The door is in poor condition, and we may imagine the hinges are very rusty.
But of course the most notable feature of this door is something that isn’t there. There is no handle on the outside. If this door is ever to open, it must be opened from the inside.
The text below reads, ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in…’
He awaits an invitation.
At the time I read this I was knitting a complicated Arran cardigan. I was doing it with love and take delight in the recipient wearing it and hopefully being embraced by love as he wears it. And I was struck, that, in doing this, I was reflecting something of God.
Throughout life we weave patterns and I hope that the love we have put into these patterns are felt by the people we do things for.