Back when I was in college, I helped out on a Lenten devotional with this same theme: the many metaphors and names for God. I was astounded by just the sheer number of ways of understanding God there were and how many went unused by the church at large. However, as evidenced in this devotional, unused does not mean unappreciated. No, all of these names for God are special and sacred, and I will bet that, like our writers, many of these hold special significance for you too. 

Perhaps the greatest gift of all these names is that they show the different ways we understand God. Whether from some of the popular ways like “Shepherd,” or from some of the uncommon ones like “Smeller,” these metaphors open our hearts and minds to the many ways that God interacts with us. And in Lent, a time for self-reflection, we wanted to lift up these metaphors and names as an offering for broadening your understanding of God. To give shape to your image of God, and to offer some insights as to how God is at work in our world and in our lives through these different means. It is a chance to consider what God means to you, and perhaps to find either new vocabulary for it, or affirmation in an old favorite. 

So, enjoy these devotions. Each one contains a word, a metaphor or name, followed by a verse and a reflection from a member from our community, whether a current student, faculty, alumnus, board member, partner congregation leader, or friend of the ministry. I encourage you all to ponder, pray, and take to heart these metaphors. Some may be odd, some may be inspirational, and you may find one that makes more sense than you ever thought it would. 

Thank you for being a part of our ministry, and blessings upon you in your Lenten journey.

Vicar Leif Kratzke Nelson
Intern 2020-2021, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Madison