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Thought for the Week - The Most Holy Trinity 2024

‘Go, make disciples of all the nations, baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit’.

A few years ago, I baptised a baby in church, his Mother was there with us, his Father on Zoom in Nigeria and the Godparents on Zoom in Ghana, nobody else in church, because Mum had only just arrived, fleeing home to bring their baby to safety. They were Christ’s disciples, and in asking to have their child baptized, they knew that the Lord was indeed with them, and their newly-born and newly-baptized baby, till the end of time.


Today is Trinity Sunday and the gospel passage chosen is the end of Matthew’s Gospel. It is a glorious and moving conclusion to the Gospel and the beautiful conclusion to the immediacy of the incarnation by which it begibs. Matthew has started with the genealogy, showing that Jesus was descended from Abraham, and from David. He tells us of the Magi, pagans, coming from the east to pay the infant Jesus homage. Matthew ends the Gospel with the disciples worshipping Jesus, falling down before him, though with some hesitation or doubt. The true king of Israel, the Messiah has come, and he is indeed God and He is still immediate before them, but ascends to make His immediacy permanent, until the end of time in the same way as He was and is for the Baptism family on Zoom.


The disciples encounter Jesus on a mountain, which reminds us of Moses who received God’s law on a mountain. It reminds us of Elijah, the greatest of those anarchic holy men of old, who encountered God on a mountain. But on this mountain, the disciples encounter Jesus, their friend and teacher, yet they fall down and worship him – there is the new law, a New Covenant, made on a mountain like the first, and kept not in fear of He who inhabits the Ark, but out of love for He who has ascended – the immediacy of the divine presence now in sacramental signs, here in flesh through faith.


The Holy Spirit enables us to continue this act of worship, and our own humanity allows us to hesitate, to be uncertain. The Spirit is given us to make us holy and lead us into all truth. The Spirit unites us. The eleven disciples hesitated in their worship. It did not all quite make sense yet for them. Christianity doesn’t always make complete sense for us. There are parts of the mystery that we can’t understand yet. But we live it. Our lives, as the lives of those who are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, are lives of faith, hope and charity. Our lives become, in a profound way, part of the divine life itself, part of the Trinity who famously was prefigured at Mamre as the three men taking the form of God went to visit Abraham and Sarah.


We who have been made in the image and likeness of God, now start to live mystically in God. We love each other and love our neighbours – though not always very well we readily admit. We hesitate, like the Disciples. We have faith in the risen Christ who died for our salvation. And we, like the parents of the baby I baptized that day, have hope in Jesus, for he said ‘I am with you always; yes, to the end of time’.


Christianity stands or falls by this proclamation of the closeness of God who is Triune Love. Christians proclaim the Father. Not a stern Victorian parent, but the one who knows and cares even for the sparrows, the one portrayed in the parable of the prodigal son as rushing towards his child and embracing him, the one Jesus tells us is perfect.


We run from the God of Love by turning the world or nature or history itself into our god, seeing in him only the reflection of our gradual decay. But there is no world spirit, no impersonal spiritual realm that can save us. There is only the Holy Spirit, the one who is the personal searching, healing and transforming one, who even searches the depths of God. Immediate, and before us and with us, until the end of time, and loving us in a way that an impersonal spiritual realm never could.


The doctrine of the Trinity should make us uncomfortable, of course; not because it is for the clever to speculate about, but because it is the most radical challenge ever issued to human beings. It’s an invitation to share in divine love, and hope and peace, and to allow ourselves to be lost in that to some extent.


If God really is this love who is involved with our world and who has embraced us, then we have a choice: we must either in turn love this God and embrace all that he embraces — and then of course, we shall be crucified as the distance we have put between ourselves and God dies away in love — or we must be content to watch the world around us from a distance, imitating the god who does not and can never exist. We enter into a mystery of love, in which one day we will dance and sing and rejoice, with and in the God who is Father, Son and Holy Ghost, who calls us, loves us and saves us. To Him be the glory both now and unto the day of eternity.

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tom lake
tom lake
07 jun

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