Today is one great metaphor – or really, a whole feast of metaphors. The Church celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity today – perhaps the granddaddy of all Christian metaphors! Through this talk of God being three-in-one, the Church has attempted to point to the greatness of God, the unfathomability of God, the mystery of God. Because we have no adequate language to describe God, we use metaphors. In fact, the attempt to take God language literally is futile, no fun, and a big mistake.
The word metaphor comes from two Greet roots, meaning to carry alongside of. As a term for language, metaphor uses an image we know to illuminate another reality. We do this all the time: “Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee, casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea….” (Hymn 362, v. 2)
We don’t really expect to see saints casting golden crowns around a sea of glass – this is exuberant, fantastical language pointing to the humble devotion of God’s people. (The hymnwriter, Reginald Heber, drew this image from the book of Revelation 15:2.)
In Sunday’s sermon, we’ll explore God Talk, metaphor, and the experiences of two of God’s people – the prophet Isaiah and the disciple Nicodemus – which illustrate the use of metaphor in biblical literature. JBM