The new year invites us to expand our experience of Divine Mystery in order to deepen our spirituality and to contribute to healing, justice, and peace in our communities and in our world. We have the opportunity to open ourselves to new ways of imagining and naming the Divine, to join together in new creation.
Some people have asked me why many of my hymns and other works include “Christ-Sophia” and what I mean by “Christ-Sophia.” This may be a new divine name for you. Who is “Christ-Sophia”?
“Christ-Sophia” is one of the divine names and images that celebrate the sacred value of all people and hold power for transforming individuals, communities, and our world. Christ-Sophia connects genders, races, and faith traditions, providing a foundation for partnership instead of hierarchies. Christ-Sophia inspires collaboration, the interchange that brings change. Christ-Sophia provides a theological foundation for gender and racial equality, bringing people together to change church and society.
Sophia, the Greek word for Wisdom in the Christian Scriptures, is a Divine Feminine image that contributes to justice, peace, liberation, and new life. Christian Scripture writers link Christ to Wisdom, a female symbol of the Divine in Hebrew Scriptures. Wisdom (Hokmah in Hebrew) symbolizes creative, redemptive, and healing power. In their efforts to describe this same power in Christ, Christian Scripture writers draw from this picture of Wisdom. 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). The book of Proverbs describes Wisdom as the “way,” the “life,” and the “path” (4:11,22,26). The Gospel of John refers to Christ as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Many early hymns recorded in Christian Scriptures draw from biblical Wisdom literature.
Christ-Sophia images the equal connection between male and female in that the name “Christ” has traditionally denoted male divinity, and Sophia is a female name for the Divine. Also, Christ-Sophia links races and faith traditions, connecting the Jewish Jesus to Wisdom in the Christian tradition and to Wisdom in both ancient and hellenized Judaism, and drawing from Egyptian and Greek sacred symbols and from Black divine images in many traditions. Visual images of Wisdom have traditionally been dark or a combination of dark and light.
“Wisdom” is an ancient divine name, common to many religions and cultures. She is Hokmah in the Hebrew Scriptures and Sophia in the Christian Scriptures. Sophia (“Wisdom”) is a prominent name and image of the Divine in the Christian tradition because She is linked to Christ in Christian Scriptures and in the writings of early church mothers and fathers. Origen, for example, declared Sophia to be the most ancient and appropriate title for Jesus.
I think Sophia is one of the most powerful female divine names and images. “Mother” may be an ambivalent image for some people, depending on their experiences with their own mothers or with motherhood in general or with the image of Mary. When we think of Wisdom Sophia as female and Christ-Sophia as including all genders and races, we can experience our own internal Wisdom more powerfully. This has been true in my experience.
Bringing this connection of Christ and Sophia to our worship can inspire partnerships that contribute to peace, justice, equity, and new life. Christ-Sophia inspires continual new birth and empowers us to make our visions of new creation a reality.
Celebrate a new day dawning, sunrise of a golden morn;
Christ-Sophia dwells among us, glorious visions now are born.
Equal partners round the table, we make dreams reality;
calling out our gifts we nurture hope beyond all we can see.
Christ-Sophia lights the pathway to a world of harmony;
Sister-Brother Love surrounds us, nourishing our synergy.
Earth joins in our rich communion, grateful for our healing care;
leaping deer and soaring eagles, all Earth’s fullness now can share.
Sing a song of jubilation, dance with joyous revelry;
clapping trees and laughing rivers join our call to liberty.
Free at last to blossom fully, flowering forth in beauty bright,
we become a new creation, bursting open into light.
© Copyright Jann Aldredge-Clanton HYMN TO JOY