Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Do you Understand?

“Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

We live in an era where the number of voices that want to claim authority of our lives is as staggering as the media through which they use to speak to us.

Voices heard and seen:

Broadcasting on Radio & Television
Blogging, Facebooking, Tweeting, Podcasting
Paperbacks, hardbacks, newspapers, Magazines
eBooks, eZines, chat groups
and the list goes on

To locate and listen to Jesus voices in this cacophony can be a difficult task and one
that takes commitment and discernment.

Whose voices shall we listen to as Christians?  The vitriolic atheist, the passive progressive, the fervent fundamentalist, the mediating moderate, the skeptical scientist!

The diversity and complexity that surrounds us can be daunting and confusing and we can be left pining for a simple faith, a faith built on an encounter with God that we have had in our own lives.

Yet naivety in our approach to faith and simplistic reading of scriptures or listening to the voices around us can lead us on pathways away from the God that we have encountered in the coming of Jesus into our lives.

Yes, experiences of faith are moments of revelation given to us by God, and they are given that we might know and therefore seek the kingdom of heaven.

But what this kingdom of heaven actually is may seem a little obscure.  Jesus himself speaks in parables – mustard seeds, yeast, fields, pearls and nets.

Yet at the end of listening to Jesus telling these stories the disciples collectively respond to Jesus question “Have you understood all of this?” with a resounding “Yes”.

I have to say given the way story of Jesus, the disciples and their behaviour, in Matthew’s gospel continues I am not entirely convinced that the disciples “Yes” is as convincing as it sounds. 

Nevertheless, Jesus goes on from the disciples’ response to get them to consider their roles as scribes.

Now a scribe was a leader and teacher within the Jewish community.  In the book of Sirach, which is one of the apocryphal writings, not found in the protestant Bible, a scribe is described in this way, “He memorizes the sayings of famous men and is a skilled interpreter of parables. He studies the hidden meaning of proverbs and is able to discuss the obscure points of parables.”

The memorizing and understanding of scribes involved an engagement with history, with what had gone before.  They knew how things had been explained in the past.

Jesus as a teacher, acting as a scribe himself, points out that a scribe of the kingdom of heaven, is “like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

This takes me back to where I started about how we might discern amidst the complexity of voices around us whose voice to listen to.

Ultimately, I believe that the voice we are to listen to is Jesus voice, but which voice is actually Jesus’ voice and how do we listen to it and who is this Jesus anyway.

Personally, listening to Jesus voice involves a life or prayer and reading the scriptures but also a commitment to listening to those scholars who are able to clearly and rationally articulate what was new about Jesus and how it related to the old.  It is also about listening to scholars both new and old, within and even beyond the church.

In the Uniting Church in Australia, The Basis of Union points us to scholarly interpreters in every age yet also grounds these scholars in a particular tradition.  A tradition of understanding elucidated at the time of the reformation and preserved in the creeds of the ancient church.

What was new about Jesus is found in the tradition which has been handed on to us – the understanding that Jesus was unique in his relationship with God and was himself God.  This unique revelation of God found in the person and work of Jesus, often referred to as the incarnation, is the point in history in and through which reconciles humanity and all things to himself.

The Basis of Union of the Uniting Church in Australia which describes the essence of the Christian faith captures these thoughts about Jesus when it quotes scripture and says, In Jesus Christ "God was reconciling the world to himself" (2 Corinthians 5:19 RSV). In love for the world, God gave the Son to take away the world's sin.”

So, the kingdom of heaven is fundamentally about the reconciling work of God that occurs in and through Jesus.  He is the mustard seed from which the tree of our faith grows, he is yeast that makes the dough of our lives rise, he is treasure in the field and the pearl to be sought for when we encounter Jesus we encounter the kingdom of heaven.

One of the issues the church and each us face in this complex and diverse world in which we live is whether we believe this message of hope and good news and how we respond to it.

As I personally sift through the options that are being touted I continually return to those scholars of excellence who are able to read the tradition in which we stand, that is to say the old, taking into account contemporary scholarship, that is to say the new. 

For me these are the scribes of the kingdom of heaven of our day and whilst I believe none see entirely clearly they offer a witness to Jesus Christ as the one in and through whom we are reconciled with God.

The Basis of Union whilst a product of the mid to late 20th century I believe continues to express for us a way in which to understand and respond to the good news of Jesus Christ as the church.

This is what it says about who we are together as the church:

The Church as the fellowship of the Holy Spirit confesses Jesus as Lord over its own life; it also confesses that Jesus is Head over all things, the beginning of a new creation, of a new humanity. God in Christ has given to all people in the Church the Holy Spirit as a pledge and foretaste of that coming reconciliation and renewal which is the end in view for the whole creation. The Church's call is to serve that end: to be a fellowship of reconciliation, a body within which the diverse gifts of its members are used for the building up of the whole, an instrument through which Christ may work and bear witness to himself. The Church lives between the time of Christ's death and resurrection and the final consummation of all things which Christ will bring; the Church is a pilgrim people, always on the way towards a promised goal; here the Church does not have a continuing city but seeks one to come. On the way Christ feeds the Church with Word and Sacraments, and it has the gift of the Spirit in order that it may not lose the way.

If you and I are seeking the kingdom of heaven, and so seeking Jesus, and are living as the church then the question for all of us, “Are we being a fellowship of reconciliation?” And, “are we using our gifts for the building up of the whole?” Is Christ bearing witness through us?

This is not just about what we do for ourselves as a community but how we too live as yeast and seed in the world around us because Christ is witnessing through us, through our very lives.

Jesus finished his parables by asking the disciples “Do you understand all this?”  Maybe they did, maybe the problem was not their understanding but their commitment to what it meant for them in how they were to live.  Maybe this is an issue for us as well.

Yet maybe, just maybe, there is in the confusing generation in which we live an issue of understanding, an issue of accepting and following and believing. 


Yet the good news, proclaimed by Paul to the Romans, is this: that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ! The kingdom of heaven like the mustard seed, or yeast, will grow and you and I who encounter it will seek it, for in seeking it we will live as the witnesses to and participants in the kingdom of heaven which has come near.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Loved deeply.

By Peter Lockhart based on Psalm 139

I want you invite you to think for a moment about the people that you know. 

Who do you think knows you the best of all?                                

It may be your best friend.  It may be a sister or brother.   
Maybe it’s your spouse.  Or maybe it’s one of your parents.

Think about that person for a moment.

How long have they known you?
What secrets do you share with them?
What secrets do you keep from them?
How will do you think they really know you?
Do they know everything?

I know when I think about the most intimate relationships that I have there are still things that the other person does not know about me.  Things that they do not see about, feelings I have that I do not share.  Thoughts that I keep to myself. The same is true for all of us.  No one knows us anyone else perfectly.

Yet, these intimate friendships are so important to us because we feel that when others know us, and more importantly love us, it affirms our very existence.

In Psalm 139 we hear a strange and mysterious message that God knows us in a way that no other person does or can.  We hear that God is acquainted with all of our ways, God sees through the barriers we construct and the personas with put on.

God knows us.  And it is an incredibly intimate knowledge.

The word in Hebrew for know that is used here is the same word that is used in Genesis 4 when we read that Adam knew Eve and conceived and bore a son.

God knows you and I intimately, personally, lovingly and in being known by God in this way there is a wonderful affirmation for each one of us that we matter in our life and that we matter in our existence.

For many people this notion that God knows us so thoroughly can be more than a little confronting, for we know ourselves and the darkness we hide from others, and the dark thoughts that beset our minds. 

Yet, the promise of the Psalm is that “even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” 

God sees beyond the darkness that we might perceive within ourselves and others, and in God’s knowing of us in this intensely intimate and personal way God continues to love us.

Despite this intensity of the intimacy describe in the words of the Psalmist there is a paradox, an irony even, and this Psalmist knows this too well:

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is so high that I cannot attain it.

The experience of the intensity of God’s knowing of us is beyond the Psalmist, so high he cannot attain it.  To return to the story that we heard from Genesis at the beginning of the service, this conundrum is express in Jacob’s words:

You were in this place, but I never knew.

I sometimes wonder whether it is our inability to connect with this God who knows us so well that is the cause of so much pain and anguish in the world.  Feeling disconnected from the intimacy of God’s embrace we become anxious about our own identity and anxious about the world and the people around us.

In this state of feeling anonymous our anxiety causes us to turn away from God and so also each other.

The message of Jesus presence in the world comes to us as God’s way of reaffirming us and confirms the fact God knows us so well.  Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus God goes beyond the darkness we experience and perpetuate and draws into the intimacy of God’s own life through the power of the Holy Spirit.

In his letter to the Romans Paul meditates on this reality reminding the early Christians, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.”

Of course like the Psalmist there is a grounded realism in Paul’s meditation as he too declares:

Now hope that is seen is not hope.
For who hopes for what is seen?
But if we hope for what we do not see,
we wait for it with patience.

As Christian people we hope for what we do not see: the perfection not simply of our personal relationship with God in which we discover and experience the full weight of God’s love, but that very same renewal for all things and all people.

In this matter we need to be reminded that our relationship with God is intensely personal but it is not private.  The intimacy God has with each of us God desires and has with all people and all things.

So it is that Paul describes the creation groaning in longing for the fulfilment of God’s loving promises and we too groan as we wait: our hearts break as we wait.

Our hearts break as we hear of children killed in the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
Our hearts break as we see the images of the airplane wreckage in the Ukraine.
Our hearts break as we read about the millions of Syrian refugees.
Our hearts break as we wonder about asylum seekers and their children in limbo on the high seas.
Our hearts break as we hear of the breakdown of relationships and the terrible blight of family violence in our Australian culture.
And our hearts break as we hear bad news again and again and again and we groan with longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled.

It is more than a little difficult to be patient in the face of such disasters.  The Psalms are always gritty and honest and in Psalm 139 we hear the Psalmist cry out in frustration:

O that you would kill the wicked, O God, and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me

It can be more than a little difficult to be a people of hope and love, yet this is what we are called to be.  We are reminded week by week in this place the intensely personal and intimate way God knows us and loves all things.  It is in these reminders that we can long to be transformed into people who do not want to respond to violence with violence but with love.

The reality though is this: we hope in what we cannot see, and even in what we do not fully experience for ourselves: that God knows us, that loves us so deeply, that in Christ God has renewed all things and that through the Spirit we have been drawn into God’s life together.


Know and believe this good news: you are known intimately and you are loved deeply.  Amen.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Shouldering Life: A Baptism Sermon

Message: Shouldering Life
(Romans 8:, Matt 13:1-9)

May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable in your sight O lord
Our strength and our redeemer. Amen.

This morning I want to share a story with you.

It is a story about a family: a family that in many ways is not unlike your family.  There were parents, and there were children, and there were other relatives as well.  There were grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.

Like any family it was a family that had its ups and downs.  Sometimes there were fights and even disappoints, and sometimes there were great joys and happiness.

One day, into this family a child was born: a little boy came crying into the world.  He was a gift, for life itself comes to us as a mysterious gift.

Now this child, this infant boy, took this gift of life upon his shoulders. It was a gift he would carry throughout his whole life.

And so, like you and I grow and come to be aware of the world around us, so the little boy grew and came to be aware of the world around him.

And as he grew and carried this gift of life on his shoulders he came to understand simple yet challenging lessons.

He learnt that there were times that he had to share.

And he learnt that sometimes other members of his family seemed more important to his parents than him.  Generally speaking, parents don’t deliberately play favourites, yet often this is how we end up feeling.

So, there were times the boy felt jealous or angry or sad, just as there were times he felt happy and loved.

And, all of these experiences of life, the good and the bad became a part of the life that he carried on his shoulders, the life that he bore.

Growing up for any of us is not an easy thing and there times the boy was very good and there were times he was not, he got in trouble and learnt there were consequences to actions.  So, he learnt how to live this life he was carrying as he grew towards adulthood.

Approaching the end of school decisions had to be made: more education; a gap year; or, to work straight away?  Was there a right path and wrong one for him to take?  Or was there simply the journey he was on?

We all want to think that there is particular purpose and place for us and we hope we make good decisions, the right ones, but how do we know?  What is the test? Personal happiness? Wealth?  Or something else?  Is there a bigger picture?

The boy grew into a man and he trained and he found work, a career, a direction to travel and he learnt about being accountable with his responsibilities and with his money, and with the many temptations that he encountered.  And sometimes he was good and sometimes he made some decisions that he would regret, so he carried all of these things about life on his shoulders.

He met a young woman and there was a romance and there was love and more responsibilities came upon the man as he grew even older: helping provide for his family and his children, and trying to be an example for them and for others in the way that he lived.

It’s really no more or less than any of us do: we work, we meet our responsibilities to others, we try to live well and we carry the life we are given on our shoulders.

And the man grew older and found teenagers were difficult and sometime he lost his temper and sometimes he grew bored with all of the responsibilities he had, so much so that at times he forgot how this life that he was carrying on his shoulders was a gift. 

For there were many times that he his life felt full of things and became a very heavy burden.

And the man grew older, and he knew the joy of his children finding partners and he rejoiced at the birth of his own grandchildren and he carefully shouldered these joyful memories into the life that he was carrying.

Like those of you who have retired, he confronted the conundrum of time unfolding before him far too quickly.  He wondered about what life would mean without work, as did his spouse for they were simply not used to being around each other that much.

Yet taking it all on his shoulders and bearing his life somehow he adjusted to this new phase of life and as he approached his later years his body did not work the same, nor his mind, and this lead to frustration and even disappointment. Yet, somehow, the man knew that the gift of life that he shouldered as a tiny baby had been a full one.

And as he looked back and thought about how well he had done and at times just how poorly he had done he wondered how his life would be measured: how it would be viewed: how he would be judged.

Whatever others might say about this one life, this life shouldered and carried by this old man, the one who gave him the gift of life in the beginning also bore the burden with him.

And the graciousness of the gift giver is to look with eyes filled with love upon the life of this old man, this child of God, who looks back. There is no condemnation from the gift giver, there is none, nothing, not a bit – for the gift giver has taken the joys and pains, and the good decisions and the bad, and has said I love you with an everlasting love.

And such is the love of the gift-giver that this gracious gift of life and love is flung about like so many seeds from the hand of sower planting with indiscriminate and reckless abandon, the good news which comes to all of us!  You are not condemned! You are mine and you loved!

Amen.

Today is a joyous day we share in the baptism of Umaola and I want to share with before the family comes forward the meaning of Umaola’s name.  The name was given to Unga and Catherine from a friend of the family and it is a completely unique name as far as we know.


Uma means shoulders and Ola means life.  So his name means to carry life.  Yet on this day we remember that he will not carry alone for in baptism God shares in his life and ours through Jesus who is our friend and companion on the journey.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Reconciling Ishmael and Isaac

Whenever I open up the Old Testament and consider preaching about it I must admit I always do so with a sense of trepidation.  The stories are so often gritty and unsavoury and confusing and more often than not need an M rating, if not an R rating.

The sordid story of the relationship between Sarah and Abraham and Hagar is a prime example.

Sarah and Abraham are getting on in years.  Sarah is well past a child bearing age and the decision is made, with Sarah’s encouragement, to use the slave girl Hagar as a surrogate.

Hagar, as we know from today’s reading, conceives and bears a son called Ishmael but somewhat to everyone’s surprise Sarah then bears a son Isaac.

Despite the original encouragement to use Hagar it is clear that the tension and jealousy boil over resulting in the expulsion of Hagar and Ishmael from the community.

Within the story, from our perspective, we have many strange ideas and ethical decisions being made that certainly can add to our confusion about how we are to live. 

There is the presence of slaves, the use of a girl as a surrogate, the miraculous birth of another child, derision by Hagar and jealousy from Sarah, vacillation from Abraham, rejection and exclusion.

As much as it might be easy to see God choosing Isaac over Ishmael, Sarah over Hagar, it is important to listen carefully to what occurs and consider what grace might mean in this context and how that might challenge we who live now.
 
In desperation, Hagar discards her son under a tree, not wanting to witness his death.  Yet, God intervenes as he hears Ishmael.  The name Ishmael literally means “God hears” and the name had been understood to connect with the concept that God has heard and fulfilled a promise.

Ishmael is saved, as is his mother, and we hear that a new future is made for them.

Despite, God choosing Isaac for a particular future, establishing God’s people Israel.  Ishmael is also given a future and a people will be established through him.  It is important to understand that there are many claims made around Ishmael, in particular he is seen, not only as a significant prophet by Muslims, but an ancestor of Muhammad. 

Abraham had been promised to be the father of many nations and so in the line of Ishmael we see a promise of God being fulfilled in a different way.

Now, whilst it may be that Paul in his letter to the Galatians associates the early Christians with Isaac and that Hagar and her son were driven out as slaves there can be no denial that God listened to Ishmael and that in Ishmael God’s promise to make Abraham the father of many nations is fulfilled.

This reality indicates a number of things to us.  God has a concern for people in their lives – he does not desire the death of Hagar and Ishmael, he desires for them a life and a future.  God listens to people whether they are part of the so called chosen community or not.  The presence of other nations, even other religions, other than Israel does not appear to worry the Creator.  In fact, if anything quite the opposite appears to affirm the fulfilment of the promise that Abraham will be the father to many nations.

As followers, of Jesus Christ, who believe that God’s grace is unconditional and that we are recipients and witnesses to this grace it would seem to mean that this raises serious questions as to how we might respond to this story by how we treat others.

Firstly, to say that the behaviour of both Sarah and Abraham is far from perfect and assumptions we make about those who live as God’s people being better than others should always be taken with more than a little scepticism.  Sarah’s jealousy and Abraham’s questioning plot a course for the dehumanising manipulation and treatment of others.

Whilst Abraham and Sarah may have driven Hagar and Ishmael out God does not desert them and so if we believe in the reconciliation of all things in Christ does this not involve welcoming those that may have been driven out back in?  How can the line of Ishmael and Isaac be reconciled?

In practical terms, this raises serious questions for us as Australians in terms of our treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.  And, as Christians, in the way in which we engage with people not just of Islam but of other faiths generally.

The story reminds us that God listens and God cares and despite the anomalies we might find in the story and in the fragmented world in which live hope can be found for those who are considered outsiders or exiles as much as for those consider insiders or chosen ones.


In this our faith is humbling and challenging.  How do move beyond our fears and jealousies, the desire to protect our inheritance, and live re-presenting such a gracious God to others, especially those who are rejected and disowned and suffering and fleeing and seeking hope?

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The Trinity: A sermon

Today the lectionary gives to us a gift from the church – today is Trinity Sunday.  The reason that I say that it is a gift from the church is that the concept of the Trinity does not come to us directly from Scripture because the Bible does not use this language, this word ‘Trinity’, to describe God.  Rather, in reflecting on the depth of God’s revelation to us in Jesus Christ, the early church in its struggle to articulate the truth of God’s existence adopted this language of describing God as Trinity. 

This comes to us as gift in the context of the struggle of humanity to know its creator and to understand the creation.  In his book The Mind of God the eminent mathematician and physicist, Paul Davies, declared, ‘While we assume there is a design behind the physical reality, science can’t really tell us anything about the designer, the nature of God, or God’s relationship with human beings.’ 

To seek to understand God and to listen for the story of God does not mean turning away from scientific inquiry and reason but marrying it with the revelation of this very creator in our midst.  For, to borrow a phrase from another physicist and theologian John Polkinghorn, to describe God as Trinity is not a case of doing some ‘speculative mystical arithmetic’ but is grounded in the very narrative of the revelation of God found in the scriptures.

Jesus’ claims concerning himself and his relation with God and the Holy Spirit give rise for us to speak of God in this way. 

John asserts Jesus to be the eternal Word of God. 

Jesus claimed that he was in the Father and the Father was in him and that those who had seen him had seen the Father. 

The promise of the Holy Spirit is the promise of the Spirit sent from the Father, the same Spirit that was seen descending on Jesus at his baptism.

And, Jesus command to go and baptise in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit further makes this description of God appropriate.

Here in these passages, and others, we encounter God not simply as some monad but that God in Godself is a community of existence – a communion of being, to borrow the language of John Zizioulas.

If we listen to the very first story found in the scriptures this truth of God’s very nature as existing as a communion is found as we hear that we are created in God’s image:

“Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness:

So God created humankind in his image,
          in the image of God he created them;
          male and female he created them.”

Here we find that to be made in God’s image is to be made male and female – not male or female, but both together – a community.  To be in the image of God is to be one, yet one with distinct entities.  The fullness of being human in the image of God is being humans together, just as God is one yet three.

This helps us to make sense of the statement that God is love.  To love involves both a lover and an object of that love.  If God in God’s very self is love then that love is a love expressed in the mutuality of existence of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.  

This gives to us the context of our own existence created to love and be loved by God and by each other – to do less than this would be to deny the reality of our being created in God’s image and thereby to deny what it means to be truly human.

Yet the narrative that unfolds in the pages of the scriptures is that this exactly what human beings do: rather than live in the communion of love whereby we exist as one for each other we as human beings continually seek our personal end, our personal gain.

The story of Adam and Eve is not some isolated event in prehistory but is each of our own stories – we deny the reality of our existence and seek more as if what we have already been given is not enough.  And when we are questioned about this we try to blame someone else.

But God’s love for us is so deep that he gives to us himself, his son, the incarnation – Jesus with us to live for us.  Here the work of God as Trinity becomes clearer and even yet more confronting.  Jesus fully human and fully divine shares our human existence living in communion with God and the creation.

The culmination of Jesus share in our existence as well as our estrangement from God and each other is found in the cross and resurrection.  The theologian JürgenMoltman describes Jesus death as an entirely Trinitarian event in which Jesus human cry of abandonment, ‘My God, my God why have you forsaken me?’ is matched by the desolation of God the Father as he mourns the estrangement of humanity in the death of his only son.

Here we begin to have an insight into the concern of God at our suffering and of God’s will that this not be the last word for the cross without the resurrection leaves us without much hope.  The Spirit descends into the realm of dead to – a place we assume is completely opposed to and devoid of God’s existence to meet Jesus there and bring him to new life.

To contemplate this is to understand that even in the place of death to which Jesus descends, a place of complete separation from God, Jesus is retrieved.  The Eastern Orthodox churches speak of the days between Jesus death and resurrection as the time of his descent into hell.  There is no place in this life or in our death that God has not been and that God cannot reach u even hell!

This God, who is love, loves us to this point of self sacrificial giving so that we might be with God eternally.  The sending of the Holy Spirit to us makes us one with Jesus in his action for us and in the church we are made to be a sign of hope for the world as humans existing as human beings created in God’s image are meant to – as community.

The church is meant to be God’s people living in respect to how we were created and were recreated to live, but it does not take a genius to see that we do not live this way as the church, even though this is the church we believe that God calls us to be.  Like those who lived before Jesus death and resurrection our fall into temptation, to live as if we are not in created God’s image and so to seek something other, is continually there.

The rampant individualism of the post enlightenment world, both modernism and post modernism, have so impacted on the belief of the western church that for so many our faith is simply and only private or personal matter.  Evangelists continually emphasize our personal relationship with Jesus as being the central reality of faith, but unless we understand that as persons we are not drawn into a one on one faith experience but into the community of God’s existence which includes not only other people but the fullness of creation then we have turned away from the truth of the gospel.

To be Christian means to be the church – for the church is the body of Christ, it is the Church in the power of the Spirit.  Bound together by God’s love and into God’s existence together we celebrate our risen Lord.

This understanding of the church came up in my lecturing on Thursday when I was quoting a passage from John Calvin’s Institutes written in 1559.

For when we believe the Church, it is in order that we may be firmly persuaded that we are its members. In this way our salvation rests on a foundation so firm and sure, that though the whole fabric of the world were to give way, it could not be destroyed.

Half of the students reacted to this understanding of the church expressing that whilst the ideal and imagery is great it had not been their experience of the church.  Many had been hurt and burnt within the community of the faithful – a reality for most of us. 

Yet within the arms of the church that we believe, the church that God has made through the power of the Spirit, our hope is that we do share in the Trinitarian life of God and we become fully human.

Calvin, being the realist he was, declared:

But in order to embrace the unity of the Church in this manner, it is not necessary, as I have observed, to see it with our eyes, or feel it with our hands. Nay, rather from its being placed in faith, we are reminded that our thoughts are to dwell upon it, as much when it escapes our perception as when it openly appears.

Being church is as much a matter of faith and an expression of God’s Trinitarian life as our hope in the promise of Jesus that we will find our way home in him.

The depths of the mystery of our faith stand alongside the mystery and wonder that is seen in the creation by the physicists and biologist and ecologists.  Our unity with God who is Father, Son and Spirit, our unity with each other, our unity with all living things humbles us and gives to us place in this world, in our lives and with our God.

Giving thanks for this mystery we can echo the wonder of the great Albert Einstein:

One cannot but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality.  It is enough if one merely tries to comprehend a little of this mystery each day.  Never lose a holy curiosity.


So with him and millions before us and millions to come let us pass into silence before the mystery of the Trinity and seek the face of the one in three and three in one who loves us.