The biblical writers use metaphors to make their words come alive. When Jesus teaches, for example, he doesn’t simply talk about the complex and ethereal kingdom of God, he makes it come alive by comparing it to things we can actually see and touch and comprehend. The Kingdom of God, he says, is like a seed, yeast, a treasure hidden in a field. Now that tells us something.
We’re probably most familiar with Jesus and the parables, but metaphors are found in other parts of Scripture, too. Those who meditate on God’s word are like trees planted by streams of water, says Psalm 1. The kingdom of God is near, says Jesus. The Lord is my shepherd, says Psalm 23.
King and shepherd are two of the more well-known metaphors used to describe God; they are two of the more familiar, everyday roles held up next to God that help us understand who God is and what God is like. But they are not the only metaphors the biblical writers use. The Bible talks about God as fire, morning dew, an eagle, king, judge, friend, shepherd, teacher, seamstress, midwife, potter, guard, warrior, farmer, thief, fortress, shield, horn, lamp, fountain, husband, mother, and…the one Jesus himself used and we use so often it wound up in the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed: father.
“Our Father, in heaven,” we pray. “I believe in God the Father Almighty…” we say. “What does that mean?” asks Luther. What does it tell us about who God is and what God is like to hold God up next to a father?
That’s the focus of our worship today.