The Holy Trinity

This is my favourite depiction of the Trinity.

I am drawn to its sense of community and togetherness, and the space left for us to join in the eternal relationship within our God – who is one in in three.

Blessing for Trinity Sunday

In this new season
may we know
the presence of the God
who dwells within our days,
the mystery of the Christ
who drenches us in love,
the blessing of the Spirit
who bears us into life anew.

Amen

On Small Things: Or a Path to Faith

I’ve been hearing quite a bit about the importance of small things in sowing the seeds of faith.

Sometimes it seems like it’s something we say to convince ourselves that our efforts are worth it when we feel a bit small and unimportant (or maybe that’s just me).

Less cynically, though, I really do think it’s true, based on my own journey into faith.

I grew up in a family which was basically indifferent to religion of any kind. It was never discussed, thought about or considered important.

When I was very young we sometimes went to Midnight Mass but that fizzled out after a while. I remember those few services, though, the light and colour and singing and sense of wonder.

Easter was just a chance for extra chocolate. The idea of going to church would never have crossed anyone’s mind.

There was also a huge old children’s Bible in the house which I think belonged to my grandmother (at least it seemed huge then) and I liked looking at the pictures, although I don’t think I really understood that the stories were meant to be true.

Then, when I was about 9, we moved to a new house and the local primary school was a Church of England one, so I had a couple of years of Christian assemblies and visits to the parish church. It didn’t seem to make any difference at the time as I didn’t really think about it, but I still remember enjoying singing the hymns and looking round at the church.

I was also a Brownie for a short while and then a Guide, and there was some Christianity hanging about in the background then. I remember that the only times I went to church on a Sunday at that time was for parades because I wanted a chance to carry the Brownie or Guide flag up the aisle. I know it sounds shallow, but it was an opportunity to be part of something and have a role.

Then I reached the age of 12 and we moved again – this time to France. This was a lonely and extremely difficult time for me, with no friends, little knowledge of French, problems at home and my sister remaining behind in England.

Sometimes I would go and sit in open churches, just on my own, not knowing anything other than that they were places of peace and refuge.

But it was then, when I was at my lowest point of despair, that I suddenly became aware of God’s loving presence all around me. It’s hard to put into words but I knew at that moment that God was real and loved me.

This was a dramatic moment, but I truly believe it wouldn’t have happened without all the small things that came first.

If I hadn’t had that sense of wonder at Christmas services, some idea of Christian ideas through hymns and school and Guiding, a bit of knowledge of the Bible from playing around with an old book, the chance to just sit and be quiet in a holy place, I don’t know that I would have been able to receive and understand the experience that I had.

And so yes, all the small we things we do as churches and individuals to show love, help others, spread the gospel, serve the community, go into schools and so on – they are important and may bear fruit long after the people doing them are gone.

So:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6.9

For the Rest of Us

Can a woman forget her nursing-child,
   or show no compassion for the child of her womb?
Even these may forget,
   yet I will not forget you. 
See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands…

Isaiah 49.15-16

 

For those who cannot celebrate Mothering Sunday, Mother’s Day or whatever you want to call it:

  • For the abused
  • For the neglected
  • For the abandoned
  • For the unwanted
  • For the ‘nuisance’
  • For the ‘difficult’ one
  • For the ‘why can’t you be more like your sister/brother’ one
  • For the ones who can no longer speak to their mothers because the pain is too much and nothing makes the relationship better
  • For the ones who don’t want children and are made to feel incomplete, lacking, selfish, not a proper human being

 

For all of these, because we matter as much as the ones who grieve lost mothers or not being able to have children.

For all of these because we matter as much as the ones who are happy today.

 

A prayer:

Through Christ’s wounds may we find healing;

through his pain may we find relief;

through his suffering may we find freedom;

through his cross may we find victory.

And may God the Father bless us;

God the Son take care of us;

Holy Spirit enlighten us,

today and all the days of our life.

Amen.

 

 

Covenant and Contract

Today I’ve been struck by a comment on how we relate to God.

The comment was that our relationship with God is a covenant, not a contract, and that the two are different.

A contract involves saying “you do this for me and I’ll do this for you”, while a covenant says “I belong to you and you belong to me”.

If someone fails to live up to their part of a contract it’s considered broken and becomes null and void.

Both sides must stick to the terms for it to work and remain valid.

We can disrupt a covenant by failing to meet expectations but we still basically belong to each other.

Even if one side doesn’t hold up their end of things the covenant remains and the other side still holds on to it.

I’ve always kind of imagined that contract and covenant are just different words for the same thing but hearing covenant explained like this gives me a sense of joy and freedom that a contract can’t provide.

It gives confidence that no matter how many times I stumble and fall God remains committed to our relationship.