Today’s Word from Pastor Tom Kidd…
What’s God’s name?
Larry? Freda Mae? Mohammed? Jesus? Most of us would just probably defer to “God,” yet God is not a name. So, what is God’s name? Probably not a question you ever thought of. As Christians we confess God was incarnate in Jesus, as such we confer on Jesus the title Christ. Jesus is the Christ. Jesus has revealed the character of God which has become the standard for our righteousness, i.e. grace. Grace is the standard of our being righteous with God. Grace could be a lovely name for God?
How about Ein Sof? Bet you didn’t think of that one. Kabbalah is the tradition of Jewish mysticism. Kabbalah is highly metaphoric and highly contradictory. Kabbalah is described in language such as: “Indifferent Unity,” “That which thought cannot contain,” “The concealment of secrecy,” “The concealed light.” If this is getting a little woo-woo for you hang on, this is actually going somewhere (you know though, I just love this stuff).
Anyway, according to Kabbalah, God becomes known through the process of creation and before creation happens (think of Genesis chapters 1-3, or John 1:1-18) the name given to God according to Jewish mysticism is Ein Sof which means boundless, or The Infinite. This is where it gets really interesting. Again, according to Kabbalah, for God to become known, Creation must happen. How does God create the universe in its enormous zillion light years entirety? God creates a vacuum. Yep, a pin prick, smaller than the parts of an atom, and into that vacuum God enters into history. Into that smaller-than-a-neuron space, God enters in and expands into the story of all of creation in all its zillion light years that we might experience and know God. Welcome to Kabbalah.
If this sounds a lot like the Big Bang Theory, it should. The big bang story has existed in its own form as a part of Kabbalah theology since 13th century Spain. Just think, this all began with a vacuum. In the midst of our personal nothing; into that place of empty where we feel void of any answers; into the real moments of vacuum in our personal life; God comes and expands that we might know God. God wants to be known and according to Kabbalah, God uses our moments of vacuum to make him/herself known through the ongoing story of creation. Fascinating. Our moments of “vacuum” are not a dead end, not a black hole of despair, they are literally the place where God comes to start the creation story anew in our life. That we might know God. It is all about knowing God.
To use the language of Kabbala, this is where the transcendent (unknowable) God meets with the immanent (knowable) God. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory…” John 1:1 & John 1:14. The transcendent meets the immanent, i.e. the God we cannot know and the God we can know in Jesus meet in this vacuum.
Okay, if you’ve made it this far you might have either glazed over or are looking for the Tylenol. Here is the point, it is not complicated… God uses moments of nothing to create new life. And there are these enormously wealthy traditions of faith which would encourage us in such moments of vacuum to sit quietly, breathe deeply, and wait… “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps 46:10).
I am practicing waiting,