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Posts Tagged ‘Makoto Fujimura’

“What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me?
I’ll lift high the cup of salvationa toast to God!
I’ll pray the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
and I’ll do it together with his people.” – Psalm 116

Fuller Studio

Reading tips for the Psalms:

  1. Pay attention to the whole of a psalm, not just to the parts of a psalm.
  1. Read the psalms consistently, rather than occasionally and sporadically.
  1. Pay attention to the internal coherence of a psalm or a section of psalms, rather than allowing them to remain fragmented parts, reflective of our immediate and self-absorbed interest.
  1. Read the psalms out loud, not just silently.
  1. Read and sing and pray the psalms together, not just alone.
  1. Pay attention the Psalter’s “hospitable ‘I’” and its “intimate communal” sense, rather than allowing the individual expressions to devolve to individualism and the communal expressions to devolve to an impersonal communalism.
  1. Immerse yourself in the metaphors that the psalmist employs, rather than remaining distant and detached from them.
  1. Pay attention to the placement and role of the psalms in the biblical canon, rather than viewing them as isolated and idiosyncratic.

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Originally given at Q Gathering by Makoto Fujimura in Pasadena, March 3rd, 2016

Los Angeles: The City of Better Angels?

What if Los Angeles became a city of angels? Or of “the better angels of our nature” as Abraham Lincoln exhorted us to become? What would happen if we truly became “the City of Our Better Angels”?

To ask “what if?” is not just idealism or false hope or fantasy. “What if” questions are filled with hope and faith while acknowledging our struggle for that quest. To ask “what if?” today is to say, “I have a dream.” What I call “culture care” is a non-violent resistance to culture war; culture care is not to wage war over territories of culture which only leads to polarization, but it is to lay down the weapons of ideology, and instead to sow seeds of goodness, truth, and beauty into the ecosystem of culture—into the cultural soil of our cities, including Los Angeles.

To say “I have a dream today” is to plant seeds of hope in the arid soil of disappointment and despair; to say “I have a dream” today is to raise seedlings of joy and peace in the midst of the bitter taste of suffering and injustice; to say “I have a dream” today is to water the “oaks of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:3) in a land full of fissures of division and polarization. To say “I have a dream today” is to—even in tainted ground such as Japanese soil poisoned by the fallout of nuclear attacks—plant sunflower seeds, as one Japanese farmer did soon after the 3/11 tsunami catastrophe. He planted them because sunflowers remove the radioactive isotopes out of the soil. To say “I have a dream” today is to create beauty as the pursuit of the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

In that city of God, the better angels of our nature imagine and invoke the future. In our current city of man (as St. Augustine would have it), culture wars rage, dehumanizing forces invade, and polarizing specters abound as the accursed ghosts of our divided past and present haunt us. But in the city of God, the city of our better angels, invitations arrive for Genesis moments—offered even in our brokenness. What would that city look like? It might be much like the Highline of New York  where nature has been reunited by culture caregivers with the daily rhythms of that great city. Or it might look like the gardens of Ron Finley, “A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA” introduced to many through his TEDtalk. Or Roberta and Howard Ahmanson’s  “Village of Hope” a 192-bed transitional housing program for homeless men, women, and children brought to life on a decommissioned military base. It would look like all of us—homeless, exiled, forgotten, and enslaved gathering to march toward freedom, justice, poetry, and beauty.

No one wins in culture wars. Culture is not a territory to be fought over, instead it is a garden to tend to, an ecosystem to care for. Each time we battle for what we consider some “sacred right,” we lose ground by dehumanizing and demonizing the other side. A culture-war stance assumes an “us verses them” situation in which every position must be monolithic and dominant. It requires the investment of so much time and resource to defend absolutes rather than collaborating, negotiating, and finding common ground. Culture caring rejuvenates culture by aspiring to the greater good, actively mediating and guiding people through the darkness of injustice. What we are experiencing this election cycle is but a disfigurement of democracy. Instead of aspiring to the “better angels of our nature,” we have become dark, mutated angels fallen to the temptations of culture war. Mr Trump, I suggest, is fallout from those wars, a gusher erupting from the fissures of culture wars. He successfully took advantage of culture war polarity to focus the media on himself and his own ideas of “winning.”  He gained this dominance first by intentionally firing incendiary remarks to pressure the fault lines of culture wars, recasting everyone other than himself “losers” from the starting line. We may yet be able to elect the culture wars candidates of our choice, but we all lose in that process, degrading the integrity of our culture in the process. No matter who wins this election, an age of disillusionment will be ushered in with the new occupant of the White House.

Culture Care is about nurturing the good, true, and beautiful into the soil of culture. Reinhold Niebuhr stated that “Democracy is finding proximate solutions to insoluble problems.” The growth of democracy requires the good soil of culture so that “proximate solutions” can further the privilege of stewarding culture. The goal is not to “win” at all costs—democracy never claims to resolve,insoluble problems no matter who the leader is. Niebuhr also warns us: “Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.” Culture Care is generational work, and will require much faith.

I want to suggest one “proximate solution.” What if we spent 1% of the budget for this current presidential election cycle, and created gardens of culture for the generations after us? What if we elected not politicians but cultural gardeners? A gardener is judged by the fruit they produce. An election should be like a farmer’s market: whoever produces the best fruit in our culture should sell the most fruit. With that 1% we would be able to fund all of the worthy arts organizations and cultural entities I support, from Image Journal to the Jose Limon dance company, and make them sustainable. Politics are downstream from the arts. What happens in culture upstream can affect the whole river.  Let me further suggest that if we up the ante and redirect 10% of all of the campaign spending for the elections happening this year (including Super PAC) and apply it to culture, it could make sustainable ALL of the organizations in the United States, including every organization funded by the NEA, NEH. That amount would fully fund NPR (imagine not having have to listen to their fund-raising campaign pitches!).  I dare say that this 10%, used generatively and resourcefully, with care of a master, proven gardener, would do more for the thriving of our culture, the thriving of our economy, and the thriving of world cultures than anything that this election will yield. So according to this model, Mr. Trump will have to show that he not only succeeds in negotiations and firing people, but show that the fruit of his work actually tastes better and is more nourishing for all people. It’s no different for  Secretary Clinton. She will have to do the same. What cultural fruit has she made that is enduring, what fruit has she nourished that causes not just registered democrats to benefit but the entire ecosystem of culture to thrive?

The city of our better angels is lush and abundant: let’s give up a small portion of our ambition, lay down our weapons of ideological polarity for an apportioned time, and devote our energy to tending the soil of culture right beneath us. In a land tainted by radioactive isotopes of apocalypse, fear, and anxiety, we must plant sunflower seeds of hope, like this painting of Vincent van Gogh. (see above image) “I dream my painting and I paint my dream,” he said.

Let’s cast our “what if?” dreams into the wind of culture instead of pinning hopes on our leaders, or an establishment ready to break apart like an old wineskin. Let’s become gardeners of cultural farms, stewards of cultural ecosystems.

To nurture the soil of culture, we must learn to see with “the eyes of our hearts” (Ephesians 1:18) beyond fear, beyond anxiety, and beyond despair. Be patient and long-suffering; love deeply; nurture the soil of imagination, gestating in faith until we can give birth to that city of our better angels. What if we did that? We would find a city filled with the aroma of the new, emanating out of the extravagant, with denizens like bright flowers turning their heads toward the sun. Out of the trauma of our times and the disillusionments of our days, God would birth something true, good, and beautiful.

“Culture is not a war to win, but a garden to tend.” – Makoto Fujimura

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* – from IAM Instagram

Mako’s Report from the Culture Care gathering in Pasadena

Over 150 attendees came to the first Culture Care gathering at the Brehm Center in Fuller, which took place March 3-5. We are scheduling three of these gatherings—the next one will be a Culture Care Summit, taking place February 10-12, 2017. What we experienced was a significant movement of the Spirit among artists, entrepreneurs, theologians, and pastors.

Keiko Yanaka came from Japan to be the “still point” by serving the Rikyu style of tea (specifically Omote-Senke style) in the Brehm|Fujimura Studio. As we converted the small exhibit space attached to the studio, I realized that the tatami mats fit perfectly in the space, and the three paintings I had been working on as a meditation in the Lenten season,which also happened to fit perfectly. Keiko said that she was amazed that the Brehm|Fujimura spaces were echoing the tea houses; the entry rooms prepared the hearts of those receiving tea through stages of meditative/prayerful zones. As you will read in my new book Silence and Beauty: Hidden Faith Born of Suffering, Rikyu is a prototype of resilient faith operating covertly and deeply embedded within culture, and our task is to uncover and reveal some of the Eucharistic elements of tea.

The response by the guests were so overwhelming (she could only serve 25 people) that we plan to have her back for next year as well. We will also focus on Shusaku Endo’s book Silence—now being adapted by Martin Scorsese (the movie is due out in December)—tracing the roots of Japanese aesthetics born in the time of persecution and strife. As my Q Conference message says, we are entering an age of disillusionment and persecution, so we have much to learn from those who created “still points” in such a historic setting.

The Culture Care gathering invited many from around the world, and featured Dr. Mark Labberton, the President of Fuller Seminary, whom I interviewed on stage. Implementing the principles of Culture Care into the full curriculum of Fuller Seminary will take time, but we are off to a great start. I have identified a few students with whom I hope to work closely as Fujimura Fellows, with the eventual goal of establishing master’s and doctoral-level curriculum for Culture Care. Other presenters included artist Pamela Alderman and retired Army sergeant Ron Kelsey.

The afternoon highlights included Professor Alexis Abernethy, a professor of clinical psychology, who reported on her research on the relationship between worship/prayer groups and trauma recovery in the Bahamas. The director of Spiritual Development at Fuller, Dr. Laura Harbert, also join us on stage to lead the sessions as a responder to the presentations. I asked Alexis’s church’s worship director, Dr. Dianne Clayton-White (“Dr. D”), to close the gathering with her music as Dr. Harbert began to pray. God visited us in a special way in Travis Auditorium at Fuller that day. With tears and our hearts full of joy, we concluded the gathering.

The experience was so powerful that I later met with Dr. Ed Willmington and suggested that we organize next February’s Culture Care Summit as a worship service. Dr. Willmington, being a composer and worship director dedicated to the next generation of worship leaders, said, “Now you are speaking my language!” I anticipate that this will be unlike any arts and faith conference you have ever attended, a weekend full of worship, Culture Care, and learning, so please mark your calendars!

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Makoto Fujimura shares how he came to understand the beauty he creates through art by understanding and accepting the love and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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IAM

 

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Herman1

Bruce Herman (currently Lothlorien Distinguished Chair in Fine Arts at Gordon College) is an American painter who lectures widely and has had his work published in many books and journals. His artwork has been exhibited in several exhibitions in major cities and all over the world (including the Vatican Museum of Modern Religious Art in Rome). For the First Friday art walk, New City Church brought in Bruce and his amazing paintings Magnificat. I love how New City is bridging the world of faith and art. Last year they brought in Makoto Fujimura for Good Friday (how ironic that both Bruce and Makoto have collaborated on projects). In fact I was just in the IAM studios last month in New York chatting with the staff about Bruce coming to Phoenix. Magnificat (Anima Mea Dominum) offers a glimpse into not only the story of Mary and Everywoman, but humanity and the beauty that can sometimes be found in imperfection. The Magnificat paintings are enormous. They are in the traditional form of two large altarpieces and constitute a sustained reflection on the life of the Virgin Mary from the time of her “Yes” to God at the Annunciation to the fulfillment of this “sword that will pierce your soul” at her Son’s Crucifixion. A group of us headed down to New City to be a part of the exhibition. I loved the paintings and enjoyed meeting Bruce Herman.

Herman2

Miriam, Virgin Mother: Via Activa
oil and alkyd resin with 23kt gold leaf on three wood panels
dimensions: 102″ h x 160″ w

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Herman3

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Bruce Herman gives a talk

Bruce Herman gives a talk

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Fun night with good friends

Me with Bruce Herman

Me with Bruce Herman

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A masterpiece can be said to be a work with the capacity to outlast its time and speak to cultures vastly different from its own; to transcend its time and place and inspire new works by artists in succeeding generations

When first published, Eliot’s poem received a lukewarm reception by colleagues and literary critics who compared it to his masterpiece, The Wasteland, and found it lacking. Friends of Eliot’s, such as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, criticized the poem for its overt allusion to Christian faith and the traditions of sacred poetry, like that of Dante and Julian of Norwich, and the obvious way the poet attempted to blend modernist literary tropes with traditional religion. These critics thought Christianity was a thing of the past and irretrievable by contemporary artists and thinkers. Yet now, more than three-quarters of a century later, the poem is considered a major milestone in English literature.

Four Quartets is relevant to our own cultural moment because of its powerful testimony to the grace and vision of the Gospel message in a multicultural milieu. In Eliot’s vision all hinges upon the “still point” where the human experience of time evokes wonder, fear and longing for continuance and redemption, and where Christ’s presence is the pivotal point for the entire Creation. Herman and Fujimura have made a substantive response in painting, not so much illustrating Eliot’s work or making direct allusion to passages in the poem as attempting to find, in Eliot’s words, the “objective correlative,” between the poet’s themes and their own works. Christopher Theofanidis has produced a compelling score that evokes the brooding and brilliant light of Eliot’s poem. In effect, the painters and composer are collaborating in intentional dialogue with the poem, revealing the staying power of its genius and its self-declared reliance on the Christian literary and theological tradition.

Artists Makoto Fujimura and Bruce Herman, along with composer Christopher Theofanidis and theologian Jeremy Begbie, have begun a touring exhibition and festival of theology and the arts which reveals this very thing: Eliot’s masterpiece is still able to transcend its era and social location, generating fresh response and inspiring young artists of today. Fujimura and Herman have each completed four large works in response to the imagery, emotion, and allusion evoked by Four Quartets, and have collaborated with Christopher Theofanidis in his commissioned musical score entitled “At the Still Point.” Dr. Begbie has initiated and is actively organizing a scholarly and theological colloquium at Duke University that underscores Eliot’s relevance for this new generation.

A conversation with Makoto Fujimura & Bruce Herman

 

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PALM SUNDAY

Almighty God, we are unworthy to come into your presence, because of our any sins. We do not deserve any grace or mercy from you, if you dealt with us as we deserve. We have sinned against you, O Lord, and we have offended you. And yet, O Lord, as we acknowledge our sins and offenses, so also do we acknowledge you to be a merciful God, a loving and favorable Father, to all who turn to you. And so we humbly ask you, for the sake of Christ your son, to show mercy to us, and forgive us all our offenses. By your Spirit, O God, take possession of our hearts, so that, not only the actions of our life, but also the words of our mouths, and the smallest thought of our minds, may be guided and governed by you. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

WEDNESDAY

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1

MAUNDY THURSDAY

 PASSOVER SEDER MEAL

The Passover Seder is a Jewish ritual feast that marks the beginning of the Jewish holiday of Passover. It is conducted on the evenings of the 14th day of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar, and on the 15th by traditionally observant Jews living outside Israel. This corresponds to late March or April in the Gregorian calendar.

The Seder is a ritual performed by a community or by multiple generations of a family, involving a retelling of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. This story is in the Book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. The Seder itself is based on the Biblical verse commanding Jews to retell the story of the Exodus from Egypt: “You shall tell your child on that day, saying, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.'” (Exodus 13:8) Traditionally, families and friends gather in the evening to read the text of the Haggadah, an ancient work derived from the Mishnah. The Haggadah contains the narrative of the Israelite exodus from Egypt, special blessings and rituals, commentaries from the Talmud, and special Passover songs.

Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating matzo, partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate, and reclining in celebration of freedom. The Seder is performed in much the same way by Jews all over the world. – wikipedia

Baby Judah

GOOD FRIDAY

“JESUS WEPT”

Why John 11? For the past several seasons of Lent, I have been meditating upon this account of three siblings: Martha, Mary and Lazarus of Bethany. In particular, John 11:35 has become a central passage for me to consider in self-reflection, because an artist learns very early that creativity demands boundaries and limits to thrive. When I began on my recent journey to illuminate the Four Holy Gospels for Crossway publishing’s celebration of the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, I needed to find a thematic boundary. I was so overwhelmed with the grand scale of the project that I chose this shortest passage in the Bible—“Jesus Wept”—and that decision has led to many discoveries along the way.

“Jesus Wept” is, to me, the most profound passage in the Bible. After I gave a recent lecture on this verse at Duke University, Richard Hays commented on my reflections: “The Incarnate Word of God stood wordless at Bethany.” Indeed, Jesus’ tears make no logical sense, as he came to Bethany with the specific mission to raise Lazarus from the grave. He told the disciples his mission (and why he intentionally delayed his arrival, knowing that Lazarus lay dying) and revealed to Martha that he was and is the “Resurrection and the Life.” So why did he, upon seeing the tears of Mary, waste his time weeping, when he could have shown his power as the Son of God by wiping away every tear, telling people like her, “Ye of little faith, believe in me!”?

In my reflections, this “irrational,” emotional response from Jesus became a central means to understand the role and even the necessity of art in the midst of suffering—what I have began to call our “Ground Zero” conditions. Art, like the tears of Christ, may seem useless, ephemeral and ultimately wasteful. But even though they evaporate into our atmosphere, the extravagant tears of God dropped on the hardened, dry soils of Bethany, or onto the ashes of our Ground Zero conditions, are still present with us. Because tears are ephemeral, they can be enduring and even permanent, as with “Jesus wept.” In the same way, perhaps our art can be so as well. What seems, at first, to be an irrational response to suffering may turn out, upon deep reflection, to be the most rational response of all.   –  Makoto Fujimura

Link – The Father’s Cup: The Crucifixion Narrative


Community

Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.The Crucifixion of Jesus. So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha).There they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The Kingof the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.” When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they

Family

took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one foreach of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.” This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,“They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.” So this is what the soldiers did. John 19:16-24

Confession

THE FOUR HOLY GOSPELS  

Charis – Kairos (The Tears of Christ)

Luke – Prodigal God

John – In the Beginning

Mark – Water Flames

Matthew – Consider the Lilies

SATURDAY

EASTER SUNDAY

HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!

I heard a man say, “The importance of the Resurrection is that it gives evidence of survival, evidence that the human personality survives death.” On that view what happened to Christ would be what had always happened to all men, the difference being that in Christ’s case we were privileged to see it happening. This is certainly not what the earliest Christian writers thought.

Something perfectly new in the history of the Universe had happened. Christ had defeated death. The door which had always been locked had for the very first time been forced open. This is something quite distinct from mere ghost-survival. I don’t mean that they disbelieved in ghost- survival. On the contrary, they believed in it so firmly that, on more than one occasion, Christ had had to assure them that He was not a ghost. The point is that while believing in survival they yet regarded the Resurrection as something totally different and new.

The Resurrection narratives are not a picture of survival after death; they record how a totally new mode of being has arisen in the universe. Something new had appeared in the universe: as new as the first coming of organic life. This Man, after death, does not get divided into “ghost” and “corpse”. A new mode of being has arisen. That is the story. What are we going to make of it?

– C.S. Lewis, “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?”

Sing it, o death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He’s alive, He’s alive

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.  

Hebrews 6:19-20 ESV

Adonai  Elohim   The stone has been lifted from the grave

CELEBRATION

A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.

Proverbs 17:17  NLT

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

MONDAY REFLECTION

NAMES OF GOD

A faithful God who does no wrong

A forgiving God

A fortress of salvation

A glorious crown

A jealous and avenging God

A Master in heaven

A refuge for his people

A refuge for the needy in his distress

A refuge for the oppressed

A refuge for the poor

A sanctuary

A shade from the heat

A shelter from the storm

A source of strength

A stronghold in times of trouble

An ever present help in trouble

Architect and builder

Builder of everything

Commander of the Lord’s army

Creator of heaven and earth

Defender of widows

Eternal King

Father

Father of compassion

Father of our spirits

Father of the heavenly lights

Father to the fatherless

God

God Almighty (El Sabaoth)

God Almighty (El Shaddai)

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

God Most High

God my Maker

God my Rock

God my Savior

God my stronghold

God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

God of all comfort

God of glory

God of gods

God of grace

God of hope

God of love and peace

God of peace

God of retribution

God of the living

God of the spirits of all mankind

God of truth

God our Father

God our strength

God over all the kingdoms of the earth

God the Father

God who avenges me

God who gives endurance and encouragement

God who relents from sending calamity

Great and awesome God

Great and powerful God

Great, mighty and awesome God

He who blots out your transgressions

He who comforts you

He who forms the hearts of all

He who raised Christ from the dead

He who reveals his thoughts to man

Helper of the fatherless

Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine

Him who is able to keep you from falling

Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead

Holy Father

Holy One

Holy One among you

I AM

I AM WHO I AM

Jealous

Judge of all the earth

King of glory

King of heaven

Living and true God

Lord (Adonai)

Lord Almighty

Lord God Almighty

Lord is peace

Lord (Jehovah)

Lord most high

Lord my banner

Lord my rock

Lord of all the earth

Lord of heaven and earth

Lord of Kings

Lord our God

Lord our Maker

Lord our shield

Lord who heals you

Lord who is there

Lord who makes you holy

Lord who strikes the blow

Lord will provide

Love

Maker of all things

Maker of heaven and earth

Most High

My advocate

My comforter in sorrow

My confidence

My help

My helper

My hiding place

My hope

My light

My mighty rock

My refuge in the day of disaster

My refuge in times of trouble

My song

My strong deliverer

My support

One to be feared

Only wise God

Our dwelling place

Our judge

Our lawgiver

Our leader

Our Mighty One

Our redeemer

Our refuge and strength

Righteous Father

Righteous judge

Rock of our salvation

Shepherd

Sovereign Lord

The Almighty

The compassionate and gracious God

The eternal God

The consuming fire

The everlasting God

The exalted God

The faithful God

The gardener (husbandman)

The glorious Father

The glory of Israel

The God who saves me

The God who sees me

The great King above all gods

The just and mighty one

The living father

The majestic glory

The majesty in heaven

The one who sustains me

The only God

The potter

The rock in whom I take refuge

The spring of living water

The strength of my heart

The true God

You who hear prayer

You who judge righteously and test the heart and mind

You who keep your covenant of love with your servants

You who love the people

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