It is 4 o’clock in the morning. I am awake in the quietness, the stillness. My wife breathes softly beside me, and my dog is curled at my feet. The birds have not yet begun to sing, there is no noise of cars, no frenetic human activity. In this sacred Quiet, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the Anglican confession.
What conceit to think that I might seek God! I can no more seek God than a sheep on a precarious cliff can find its way out of danger. A shepherd comes looking, scrambles down to the sheep and lifts the stupid creature to safety.
(And here I recall, as a child holidaying with my family in Penrhyn Gŵyr in South Wales, seeing a shepherd rescue a sheep from a cliffside. And later, as an adult in North Wales, I remember a sheep rescued from an abandoned slate quarry.)
It is not I who seek Him, but He who seeks me in the sludge and slurry of my own abandoned quarry. And even this statement is open to debate!
How easily, with what nonchalance, I use the word “God”. As If I presume to know what that word means; what depth of mystery lies behind it!
GOD is beyond all naming, the apophatic ἀπόφασις (the via negativa or negative theology)*. And the word Jesus (Ἰησοῦς, Iēsous, Yeshua, ישוע, Eashoa’ M’sheekha…)? what do I know of that Name? Is what I know not darkened by my own presuppositions, muddled by the words of men (preachers, teachers, theologians and antagonists of Christianity); sullied by my own ignorance within a milieu that still disavows and mocks this first century Jew, after two thousand years?
Names and pronouns: inadequate symbols of the ineffable.
In the quiet, for a brief moment, there is rest.
In this hour before dawn, I lay down the clutter of my thoughts, the tatty garments of my desires, hopes and fears, my bawdry posturing and self-hiding. The hubbub of yesterday’s workplace is gone. I know that soon, the day will unfurl like a sail in the wind, to pull my small boat into uncertain weather.
Most merciful God,
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
we confess that we have sinned
in thought, word and deed.
We have not loved thee with our whole heart.
We have not loved our neighbours as ourselves.
In thy mercy
forgive what we have been,
help us to amend what we are,
and direct what we shall be;
that we may do justly,
and walk humbly with thee, our God.
Almighty and most merciful Father,
we have wandered and strayed from your ways
like lost sheep.
We have followed too much the devices and desires
of our own hearts.
We have offended against your holy laws.
We have left undone those things
that we ought to have done;
and we have done those things
that we ought not to have done;
and there is no health in us.
But you, O Lord, have mercy upon us sinners.
Spare those who confess their faults.
Restore those who are penitent,
according to your promises declared to mankind
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake,
that we may live a disciplined, righteous and godly life,
to the glory of your holy name.
long-suffering and of great goodness:
I confess to you,
I confess with my whole heart
my neglect and forgetfulness of your commandments,
my wrong doing, thinking, and speaking;
the hurts I have done to others,
and the good I have left undone.
O God, forgive me, for I have sinned against you;
and raise me to newness of life;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And the priest shall say:
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord.
May almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us our sins,
and bring us to everlasting life,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Why do some people write “G-d” with a hyphen instead of an ‘o’? by sabbahillel.
“Based on the words in Deut. 12:3-4, the Rabbis deduced that it is forbidden to erase the name of G-d from a written document. Since any paper upon which G-d’s name was written might be discarded and thus “erased”, the Rabbis forbade explicitly writing the name of G-d, except in Holy Books, with provisions for the proper disposal of such books.
According to Jewish Folklore, G-d has 70 names. However, only one of these names is the ineffable name, which cannot be erased or pronounced. Further, of the 70 names, seven may not be erased but they can be pronounced on certain occasions (such as when reading the Torah). The other names may be erased and pronounced, but still must be treated with respect. The Talmud (Shevuot 35a-b) makes it clear that this prohibition applies only to seven Biblical names of G-d and not to other names or attributes of G-d, which may be freely written. The prohibition was later codified by Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Yesodei HaTorah 6:1-2). The practice of writing “G-d” is supported in Shut Achiezer, 3:32, end, where it is endorsed and accepted as the prevailing custom. Rambam cites Deut. 12-03:04, which states “and you shall destroy the names of pagan gods from their places. You shall not do similarly to G-d your Lord.” The intent of this is to create an atmosphere of respect for G-d’s name vs pagan gods’ names.
As a result of this, people acquired the habit of not writing the full name down in the first place. Strictly speaking, this only applies to Hebrew on a permanent medium, but many people are careful beyond the minimum, and have applied it to non-Hebrew languages. Hence, “G-d”. One explanation is that using G-d is a reminder that anything which we may say about G-d is necessarily metaphorical. Spelling out the Name (even in a language other than Hebrew) would imply that one could speak meaningfully (not just metaphorically) about G-d.
However, the Shach (Yoreh De’a 179:11) ruled that “God” spelled in a foreign language does NOT have the status of a “shem” and thus may be erased, lehatkhila. There is a story about Rav Soloveitchik (z”l) intentionally writing GOD on the board while teaching a class and then just as deliberately and intentionally erasing it, so as to demonstrate by his own example that this was not a halakhically a problem.”