Father Michael’s blog post for Holy Trinity Sunday

TRINITY SUNDAY MAY 30TH 2021

COLLECT

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity and in the power of the divine majesty to worship the Unity:

Keep us steadfast in this faith, that we may evermore be defended from all adversities; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

GOSPEL READING

John Chapter 3 Verses 1-17

A little girl crouched over a piece of paper with several pencils, drawing intently. Her father saw her and asked, ‘What are you drawing?’

‘I am drawing a picture of God.’ Said the little girl without any hesitation.

Her father smiled indulgently, ‘But dear, nobody knows what God looks like.’ ‘They will when I’ve finished.’ She said confidently.

Ever since humanity has had a sense of God, or a belief in God, there have been attempts to describe God in words or through other artistic mediums. The reason we do this is because we like to know what things mean, it gives us a sense of control. This works in most areas of our lives – but not with God. John Fenton, a New Testament scholar and Canon of Christchurch Cathedral in Oxford said this,

‘Trinity Sunday is the essential reminder coming round every year that we cannot manage God. We cannot even imagine God. A God whom we can hold in our minds in the way that that we can hold on to multiplication tables or elementary geometry would not be God!’

I think Fenton is right but I don’t think this means that we should not try to articulate something about God, just so long as we never make the mistake of thinking that we have succeeded in containing God either in a doctrinal formula or in a work of art. The best we can hope for with our doctrines or our art is a glimpse of God.

Our Jewish and Islamic friend’s belief in God is grounded in what we learn about God through people like Abraham, Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. Our Buddhist and Hindu friend’s understanding of God is very different again. From our perspective our friends of other faiths have understandings of God which are to do with eternal laws and ultimate authority, or to do with power and ultimate control. One of the differences between us and our friends of other faiths is that our belief is in a God who is ultimately all about relationships. There is, of course, a place in our understanding for God as authoritative lawgiver and as the powerful one who has control – but our attempts at describing the Trinity are all about us wrestling with the truth that for us God is ultimately all about a relationship. Not a relationship based on fear or superstition, but a relationship based on freedom, trust and love.

We do not learn that relationship which is at the heart of God from particular quotations from scripture or even from clever theologians, we learn it from looking at and reflecting upon the life of Jesus who spent his life making relationships with all sorts of people. From Jesus we learn that God isn’t interested in only having a relationship with members of a religious elite. God is not interested in having a relationship only with those who are morally upright. God is not interested in having a relationship only with those who believe in the right doctrines in the right way. God is not interested in only having a relationship with those who understand and interpret scripture properly. From Jesus we learn that God is interested in having a relationship with anyone and everyone.

I watched a documentary recently about the Irish comedian Dave Allen. Dave Allen would sit on a bar stool, smoking, drinking whiskey and telling stories. He also did very irreverent sketches. At the end of every programme he would say. ‘Good night and may your God go with you.’ In saying this, he was of course poking fun, as he always did, at religion. But this saying does strike at the heart of the biggest mistake we ever make, particularly those of us who are Anglican, which is to believe that our faith is personal and private, that it’s about me and my God. Our faith is, by definition, social and relational it is about being in relationship with God and each other. We can climb a mountain on our own and feel close to God in awesome isolation, but that should never be the sum total of what our faith is, the celebration and exploration of faith is always communal. The Trinity is communal and so is everything that stems from it.

Amen

JUST A THOUGHT

Trinity Sunday should make contemplatives out of us; people, that is, who are not afraid of the demands of silence, who are as ready to be as to do, who are at home not only with earthquake, wind and fire but also with the still small voice. Religion, if it is anything, is about the practice of the presence of God, about discovering and discerning the signs of that presence in life. It is about exploration and awareness, about finding meanings and making connections, about celebrating what is yet to be in the face of what already is. To do that, we need to learn how to be quiet, become more present and attentive to life, to see what is there, and love what we find. When the words run out we become open to God in a new way, because he is nearer to us than our own souls.

JOHN CHAPTER 3 VERSE 16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life”.

A PRAYER

To God the Father, who first loved us, and made us in His own image.

To God the Son who loved us and washed away our Sins in his own Blood; To God the Holy Spirit, who spreads the Love of God abroad in our hearts, be all might, majesty, dominion and power now and for ever. Amen

With my love, prayers and blessings.

Fthr. Michael

About holytrinitychurch

This is the official blog site for the Anglican Church of The Holy Trinity, and the historic British Cemetery situated in the heart of the city of Funchal, on the glorious, Portuguese island of Madeira. It is hoped that this blog will encourage dialogue, however, comments deemed to be blasphemous, offensive or personal will not be published.
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