Letter to parishioners, 28 May 2021

Friday, 28 May 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

This Sunday is Trinity Sunday. This is a moment in the Church’s calendar when we are invited to reflect upon God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is an opportunity for us to hear and respond to the diversity we are called into by God, as well as emerging from the darkness in which we enshroud ourselves.

On Sunday we will hear that great moment from the prophet Isaiah (6:1-8) when, in response to a vision of God’s glory he offers himself in the Lord’s service with the well-known words: Here am I; send me! We will also hear of Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-17). In that gospel reading we read of Nicodemus, the respected Pharisee, coming to Jesus by night to seek answers regarding Jesus’ power. The exchange between Jesus and Nicodemus leads us into a better understanding of the need for us to be reborn as children of God. It also leads us to these famous words: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

Our readings from Isaiah and John speak of new life in the glorious diversity of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. They also show us the route from darkness and ignorance into a new life in communion with God. And, they also remind us of the cleansing and inspiring power of the Holy Spirit. Our God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is one God. But, in this threefold identity we see a breadth of engagement with humanity that we struggle to emulate in our daily lives.

Over the last year we have lived through challenging times that have been marked out by periods of limitation and enforced isolation. During these times we have become anxious for the return to ‘normality’, by which we mean ‘the same as before’. That, of course, can never be the case. We cannot pretend that the last fifteen months have not happened, or that the virus that initiated this period of restriction has gone away. We have to be ready to emerge into a different world, a world that may seem strange and unsettling.

That is the world into which Isaiah and Nicodemus emerged after their different encounters with God. Isaiah saw the full glory of God in heaven and was changed into a willing messenger. Nicodemus was brought from the darkness in which he sought out Jesus into the certainty and light of Jesus’ divinity. And, as we read these passages from scripture, we are also offered the opportunity to engage with change. As Jesus speaks with Nicodemus we hear words of rebirth and empowerment. We hear words that should inspire us to go forward in faith and joy, strengthened and supported by the Holy Spirit whose coming amongst us we celebrated just last week.

Challenging times lie ahead for all of us, and especially in matters of faith. However, God is still posing the question he asked of Isaiah: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? We are still being invited to offer ourselves as those who have experienced the power of Christ’s incarnation and resurrection. We are the ones who, in this generation, need to join Isaiah in saying: Here am I; send me!

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen