|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Today is Trinity Sunday, when the church tries to describe the indescribable; to point to the character and action of the Divine that is always dynamic and evolving. The early teachers of the church came to describe God as Trinity – three equal ‘persons’ or expressions of God, Father, Son and Spirit – or in the beautiful and more inclusive language of Julian of Norwich, the Maker, the Lover and the Keeper. It is a picture of God as a community of equality. That in itself is of immense importance in a world where inequality and autocracy tend to rise up as we have seen this week in the United States. The picture of God as Trinity shows us how God’s very being and nature is about relationship and love. How might this picture of God as Trinity help us in these days of change and challenge across our world?...
I wonder if you have ever pondered the difference between having and keeping? It’s all about relationship. We have a computer, but we keep a dog. God does not have us. God keeps us. As the Psalmist puts it: 'The Lord is my keeper' (Psalm 121) For Psalm 121 is what is known as a pilgrimage psalm – the prayer that a devout Jew would offer on their way to Jerusalem to attend one of the three great annual religious festivals. The author is asking for help on their journey and identifying that that helps comes from God. Travelers are always at risk – those on pilgrimage on foot risk falls, or attack from bandits. Today those of us contemplating travel by air may be more worried about the coronavirus speeding its way to us through the air -conditioning vents. Travel is always a somewhat hazardous exercise. In our present time there is much to make us feel helpless and insecure. But this psalm says the opposite. It urges us not to fear, but to know that we are being ‘kept’. So, what exactly does it mean to be ‘kept’?
Mothers Day – what do we make of it? In some ways is a strange, and very modern, development. Indeed, if we ever needed an example of how culture shapes an idea in different ways, then Mothers Day is it. Originally it was a revolutionary rallying call to mothers to take action to save their children and stop war. Yet today it is a much tamer and commercialised affair: a largely domesticated call to do something for mothers, however small. Instead of mothers themselves organising campaigns for peace and justice, as they did when it began, Mothers Day today is mainly an opportunity for mothers to be pampered by their nearest and dearest, at least for one day. So where does God’s love fit in all of that? Is there anything Christian faith might have to say to affirm, deepen, and expand our meaning of Mothers Day? Well, yes: especially on this particular Mothers Day, which is also the feast day of the medieval saint Mother Julian of Norwich, and the first day of this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Both of those events help us see and use Mothers Day more fully, as an opportunity to share the mothering love of God more abundantly: not only by rightly valuing that love in our own mothers, but by renewing that love in our own selves, and by extending that love to others, different to us and further afield…