|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?...
Feel the breath of God move softly
gentle mists across the skin;
Earth is breathing God’s own spirit,
life renewed from deep within.
Sing a song of living waters,
pulsing through the veins of earth.
These words, from a hymn by the eco-theologian Norm Habel remind us what we all know; that water, especially river water, is sacred; essential to life; the very stuff of which we are made. Our own bodies are largely made up of water as indeed are so many of the creatures on our planet earth. From this vital element and many others, God is continually creating, every day new species, new variants. As Norm Habel has written elsewhere,
“One of the ways that we know God keeps creating you and me and all forms of life is by using the water in rivers. The flowing water in the river we see is indeed the water of life we need to survive. But it is also the very stuff God uses to create in the cycle of creation. The same waters of the Flood and the Ice Age are the very waters God uses to give us life, to create. There is a finite amount of H2O on Earth, whether it is in the form of water, ice or moisture. And the fragments of H20, the little bits of water, are re-cycled endlessly. God keeps creating and sustaining life with the same water age after age and generation after generation. Water is the very essence of the cycle of creation."...
I want to talk about wine, woman and wedding; and about what Jesus's first sign can teach us about our Mission Action Plan and our giftedness in this parish. First of all however, just notice how our gospel reading begins. It starts with the words "on the third day" - and that's very odd, because in the previous chapter we have had a day when the Pharisees question John the Baptist, then a day when John sees Jesus, then a day when he declares Jesus the lamb of God, and then a day when Jesus calls Philip and Nathaniel, so that by the count of the narrative we are now up to at least the fifth day not the third. Which should alert us that the counting that is happening here is not literal but symbolic. So if symbolic, what as Christians do we all know happens on the third day? ...that's right, Jesus is raised from the dead. So this tells us that the story that follows is a highly symbolic story, all about Jesus's resurrection and what it achieves. This is going to be a story about transformation, that is for the whole church. And if we are in any doubt about that we need only look to the last sentence of the story, ' Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him'. There are to be six more 'signs' in the gospel of John, each of them revealing more of the glory of Jesus, culminating in the raising of Lazarus, before John turns to the final story, the story of the death and resurrection. So this story, which appears at first glance to be about a good time at a wedding, is in fact all about Jesus and the transformative power of his death and resurrection...
by Penny Jones for Advent 2 year B
It gave me great joy yesterday to see everything so green after the rain. I am sure we are all taking delight in the clean fresh scent and the signs of new life. It would not be too fanciful I think to say that our bit of the world has been ‘baptised’ over the last few days.
The great medieval Christian mystic Hildegaard of Bingen coined a particular word for such ‘greening ‘ of the earth. She called it ‘veriditas’, from the Latin word for green. For her it best described the first shoots of green leaves poking through the white snow after a long winter in her native Europe. It was the sign of new life. And so too for us, as rain restores life to our parched land we see fresh potential for life in the renewed greenness of our land.
When we think about baptism and the ministry of John the Baptist which we recall today, veriditas, the ‘greening’, is a good picture to have in our minds. It is a picture that works at many levels. It describes the ‘greening’ of the outer world, the created order on which we rely for daily life. It describes the ‘greening’ of our inner world, the work of God in our individual souls. And it describes as well the transformative work of the Holy Spirit within our society and wider political systems...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,