Letter to parishioners, 5 June 2020

Friday, 5 June 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,

Having celebrated the great festival of Pentecost, this week the church rejoices once more before entering the long, green season known as Ordinary Time.  On Sunday we will celebrate Trinity Sunday.  This is a moment in the church’s year that can so often cause confusion.  In a famous seasonal hymn we sing: God in three persons, blessed Trinity.  But what do we understand by those well-known words?

The Church of England is a Trinitarian church.  Our service of Holy Communion begins with the gathering statement: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  The daily offices of Matins and Evensong end with the Grace which draws us together in the words: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.  Our creeds (or statements of faith) encourage us to regularly reaffirm our belief in the God who is ever present in three persons.  But, as we repeat those familiar words do we ever pause to consider what they mean for us?  Whether or not you have ever wrestled with the complexity of God as Three in One and One in Three, I believe that there is, contained within the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, comfort, hope and strength for us as we live out our daily lives. 

Human beings are complicated creatures!  We all have a multiplicity of desires and needs.  We all struggle with the way in which we balance those desires and needs in a world that can often seem confusing and contradictory.  In these challenging times, with the many mixed messages that we are receiving from our political leaders, we would all be justified in feeling more confused than ever.  It is in our God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, that we can find comfort, hope and a great deal of strength.

When we consider God as Father we need to set aside any notions we may have of our earthly fathers – God is so much bigger than that.  God the Father is the creator of everything.  Not just everything we see around us but absolutely everything, including all that is way beyond our experiences and the confines of our human imaginations.  We are all held in the loving embrace of a Father who is really there for everyone and everything.  That is surely a fact in which we can find comfort, hope and strength. 

Because we are human beings, we get things wrong.  How can we possibly live up to the standards of an all-powerful and all-knowing God?  Well, our relationship with God was renewed and given new life by the earthly ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ – God the Son.  That is surely a fact in which we can find comfort, hope and strength. 

In our human complicatedness we are emotional, intellectual and spiritual butterflies.  Our concentration and our devotion waxes and wanes with our enthusiasms and our fickle likes and dislikes.  God the Holy Spirit is there to sustain us and to motivate us when we feel despondent, depressed or negative in any way.  That is surely a fact in which we can find comfort, hope and strength.

And, finally, there is the great divine wonder that all that powerful creativity, redeeming love and unrelenting support and sustenance is really contained within one God – the God who really is Three in One and One in Three. 

May the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you all today and always,

Revd Stephen