This past Saturday, our new presbytery executive Rev. Aisha Brooks-Lytle facilitated our session retreat. Her presentation involved what she calls the 4 P's of healthy congregations; prayer, passion, priesthood of believers, and purpose.
During her presentation on priesthood of believers she used the image of theotokos in order to describe the vital importance of each person in our congregation. Theotokos is the Greek word meaning God Bearer; or God birther. In the Catholic tradition it is used to describe Mother Mary; however it has also been used to describe others in our faith such as St. Ignatius of Antioch.
During our breakout session, elder Dennis McLynn asked what I thought (and still do) was one of the most important theological questions I have heard in some time. He asked,"where are you in your God bearing years?" It is a play off the phrase child bearing years and it opens up the questions of when and how we bear God's image in the world. This question of where are you in your God bearing years is at the heart of being an intergenerational church.
From infant to nonagenarian each of us has the ability to be God bearers. When I look into the eyes of an infant I see the face of the Creator God and when I converse with a nonagenarian I see the face of the God of the covenant. Being served communion by teenagers at our Youth Sunday worship service I saw the face of the God of Promise. Regardless of where we find ourselves in life we have the vital calling to be God Bearers.
I remember when I was a young pastor in Louisville, KY and visiting some church members in their home. As I walked through the threshold of their front door I could see a door at the other end of the living room. It led to the basement. Soon I heard the pitter-patter of little feet coming up the basement steps. It was 4 year old Cory. As he looked up and saw me he stopped dead in his tracks and exclaimed, "Its God!" Well, I wasn't God, but it reminded my 25 year old self that I was a God Bearer no matter the age!
Where are you in your God bearing years?