Rev. Larry E. Schultz conducts the Chancel Choir, Orchestra, and Congregation of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina, in “Creator God of Many Names” to music he composed, with pictures from various artists. Rev. Schultz and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church balance female and male divine names and images in their worship, believing that this inclusive worship is foundational to social justice and peace. (For more on the prophetic ministry of Rev. Schultz and Pullen, see: https://jannaldredgeclanton.com/blog/?p=319.)
This hymn invites people to expand spirituality and contribute to justice and equality through inclusive metaphors (word pictures) for the Divine. Our Milky Way Galaxy contains more than a hundred billion stars. The Milky Way is only one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. How could we ever limit the Creator of so vast a universe to a few masculine names and images, e.g. “Father,” “King,” “Lord”? The infinite Creator cannot be captured in a few masculine metaphors. To suggest the vastness and all-inclusiveness of our Creator we can draw from the multiplicity of divine images in biblical revelation.
This picture of divine images, repeated throughout the video, is by Pam Allen. She created this collage for the books God, A Word for Girls and Boys and God, A Word for Girls and Boys Coloring Book. https://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/books.php#book5)
Inclusive language is also a justice issue. The prevalent worship of an exclusively male Supreme Being is the strongest support imaginable for the dominance of men. Exclusive worship language and images oppress people by devaluing those excluded. This devaluation lays the foundation for worldwide violence against women and girls. Including multicultural female divine names and images along with male and other gender images in worship contributes to equality and justice in human relationships and right relationship with the earth, while expanding our experience of divinity.
“Creator God of Many Names” uses a variety of biblical metaphors for the Divine:
Creator: God is described in the Bible as the One who created the world and all in it (Isaiah 40:28).
Father: The Bible uses the word picture of God as a tender father, loving and caring for his children (Psalm 103:13).
Mother: The Bible uses the word picture of God as a loving mother who not only gives birth to her children, but also comforts and nurtures them toward their full potential (Isaiah 66:13).
Friend: The Bible uses the metaphor of Jesus as a friend to everyone (Matthew 11:19).
Sophia: The Bible links the images of Sophia, Greek word for “Wisdom,” and Christ. The apostle Paul refers to Christ as the “power of God and the Wisdom (Sophia) of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24), and states that Christ “became for us Wisdom (Sophia) from God” (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Ruah: The Bible uses the picture of Ruah, the Hebrew word for “Spirit,” moving over the waters to bring forth all life (Genesis 1:2, RSV). The word Ruah also means “breath.” Ruah is the Breath of Life. Ruah breathes Her life into all, giving birth to the universe.
Guide: The Bible describes Divine Wisdom as a guide to the right path (Proverbs 4: 11-18) and the Holy Spirit as a guide to truth (John 16:13).Creator God of many names, Give us your widest view; We seek your Spirit none can tame, Your visions bright and new. Creator God of many names, Give us your loving care; We seek your fullest gifts to claim, New dreams with you to dare. Creator God of many names, Give us your deepest grace; We seek you more than wealth or fame, Your justice for each race REFRAIN: O Father-Mother, Friend to all, Sophia,* Ruah,* Guide, In many names you come and call, In many names abide.
*Sophia is the Greek word for “Wisdom,” linked to Christ in the Christian Scriptures. *Ruah is the Hebrew word for “Spirit” in the book of Genesis and elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Words © Jann Aldredge-Clanton Music © Larry E. Schultz tune name: ALDREDGE-CLANTON, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians (Eakin Press, 2006)
Recording © Jann Aldredge-Clanton & Larry E. Schultz, from Inclusive Hymns for Liberating Christians CD (Eakin Press, 2007)
Performed by: Chancel Choir, Orchestra, and Congregation of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, North Carolina (http://www.pullen.org/). Conductor: Rev. Larry E. Schultz
Pam Allen: collage of divine images © Pam Allen. Used with permission.
Hartwig Kopp-Delaney: “His Hand.” http://www.koppdelaney.de/koppdelaney.de/Willkommen.html
Mary Plaster: “Sophia, Divine Wisdom” © 2003 Mary Plaster. Used with permission. http://www.maryplaster.com/
Mirta Toledo: “Sophia” © 2003 Mirta Toledo. http://www.afrolatinart.com/#/mirta- toledo/4532396991; https://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com/books.php#book3
Lucy A. Synk: “Ruach” © Lucy A. Synk. Used with permission. http://lucysynkfantasyart.com/print_gallery
Stacy Boorn: “Purple & Orange” © Stacy Boorn. Used with permission. http://stacy.awegallery.com/; http://www.awegallery.com/index.php?page=artists&aid=1
David Clanton: photos of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Choir, Orchestra, & Congregation, “Blaze of Glory,” and “Tree of Life” © David M. Clanton. Used with permission. http://www.davidclanton.com/; http://david-clanton.artistwebsites.com/
Recorded by: Ward Productions, Pinehurst, North Carolina