Our name is a sort of Anglo-Hebraic mash up of the word that describes the presence of God where he dwells in the world. We say it “She-keen-ah,” just a little closer to the Hebrew pronounciation, “She-(c)hinah” with the fricative “h”.
So yeah, gets mispronounced by people who read it all the time.
But I’ve been thinking about this name lately, and how audacious it is.
How can we name a community after God’s presence? How dare we? As though he wants to come and hang out where we are telling ridiculous stories in the kitchen, dancing on the beach, or sweeping leaves off the dusty floors, again and again (and again)?
What chutzpah. Frictate that as well, if you can. It’s fun.
Imagine a circle of skin-enclosed people, getting more wrinkly through the years, sitting and trying with all their little hearts to understand a little more of God, who he is as shown in his scriptures. They sing a few songs. There are people who have followed him for a long time, and people who have never prayed, or done this kind of thing before.
And then into their midst, a light, a flash of heat, a warmth, a sudden rush of tears. The most sparkly, desirable, hope-filled one walks into the circle, invisible to the human eye, and envelops all of them. Why? Because they are there and waiting and he loves them.
That’s how he is, when we ask. Generous with his presence. We don’t always feel it, but he is here.
“The divine secret of creation is the Shekinah, God’s indwelling; and the purpose of the Shekinah is to make the whole creation the house of God.” -Jürgen Moltmann
“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.” Psalm 89: 15
“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.” Psalm 84:10