“You Call Us, Christ-Sophia”

Recently, I shared a story about the power of images and language for God in which the author asks:

How many biblical images of God are there?  What about the deeply theological work behind expansive language for God?  We were indoctrinating children into an exclusively male image of God and it didn’t seem like anyone noticed or cared!

Because there are people who notice and care about expansive and inclusive language for the divine, I’m happy to once again share a resource in the form of this performance of Rev. Jann Aldredge-Clanton’s hymn “Come to Me, All You With Heavy Hearts.”  Like much of her work, it brings new words into relationship with a familiar Christian tune:

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Jann describes the biblical grounding of this hymn:

This hymn comes from the well known and loved words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).  Many people do not know that elsewhere in the Bible almost these exact words refer to Wisdom (Sophia): “Put your necks under her yoke, and let your souls receive instruction”; and “give your shoulder to her yoke. . . for in the end you will find rest in her” (Ecclesiasticus/Sirach 51:26; 6:25,28).  The book of Proverbs also portrays Wisdom as urging people to accept her teaching but never making this teaching specific.  The implication is that Wisdom is herself what is to be learned.  Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11 is similar.

The words of Christ-Sophia’s call form the invitational refrain of the song:

“Come unto me, you weary ones,

and I will give you rest;

come, leave your burdens in my arms,

and lean upon my breast.”

Each verse offers up a different response.  Here are two:

We labor, Christ-Sophia,

to bring your truth to light;

we often feel discouraged

when wrong prevails o’er right.

And:

You call us, Christ-Sophia,

our spirits to revive;

we learn from you the Wisdom

to keep our hope alive.

 

For more about the concept of Christ-Sophia, check out Jann’s book, In Search of the Christ-Sophia: An Inclusive Christology for Liberating Christians

 

About Caryn Riswold

Caryn D. Riswold is a feminist theologian in the Lutheran tradition. She is Professor of Religion and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at Illinois College in Jacksonville, Illinois, where she has worked for over a decade teaching undergraduates to think critically and creatively about religion. She earned her Ph.D. and Th.M. from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the Claremont School of Theology, and received her B.A. from Augustana College in her childhood hometown of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

  • Jann Aldredge-Clanton

    Thank you, Caryn, for posting this. To the author of the Vacation Bible School story, I would add that I understand her feelings about the exclusively masculine language and have been in these situations so many times. That’s why I started researching and writing about biblical female names and images of God and the importance of including them. In addition to writing this research and inclusive worship resources for adults, I have also written for children because I agree with her comments about the importance of what we are teaching our children about God and about themselves. Please let her know about my children’s books: “God, A Word For Girls and Boys,” that includes stories, prayers, activities, and songs; “Sing and Dance and Play with Joy! Inclusive Songs for Young Children,” that includes activities, songs, and art and is designed for use in VBS, Church School classes, music camps, etc.; and “Imagine God! A Children’s Musical Exploring and Expressing Images of God,” also designed for music camps, VBS, SS classes, with art and other activities to accompany the songs. Full descriptions and samples are included on my website: http://www.jannaldredgeclanton.com


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