Nature abhors a vacuum

I accompanied the Gonzo family to the airport to see their daughter off. We said our farewells and after she had boarded the plane we watched it take off and followed it with our eyes until it was a tiny dot. They would miss her around the house and occasional letters by e mail would not make up for her constant presence. But they would fill the space left by her going with other things.

holy-bibleA farewell is always painful but we know it can also bring new life: new life for the one who goes and new life for those who remain. It is a rupture in the life we are used to but it can also be an opening to something new. Recently I was staying with one who had just lost her husband. Like many bereaved people she finds it hard to manage this new experience but she is fortunate in finding new energy to face the future.

At this time of the year the Church puts before us a strange word: “Trinity”. In what is called in the West “the middle ages” – between antiquity and modern times – people were at home with the name. Oxford and Cambridge, and later Dublin, all had their “Trinity College,” which were among the highest centres of learning at the time. They wanted to give them the most august name they could think of but could hardly call them “God College”. But that, in effect, is what they have done.

It did not happen at once but over the centuries the Church became accustomed to the revelation of God as “Trinity” as a result of her reflection on how the revelation of God worked. The Book of Proverbs speaks of God creating Wisdom “from everlasting” as a “master craftsman” and delighting in his work. The Church sees this as describing Jesus, who is also God’s Word. He dwelt among us and through sharing our life and death, revealed God’s purpose.

Then the time came for Jesus to depart and disciples strained their eyes to heaven watching him go. But, in effect, he did not go. He gave them his Spirit which was himself no longer limited to place or time, to religion or culture, to rich or destitute, to healthy or sick. God continued to dwell among us and give life and delight to all his people and even the animals! The disciples now lived a totally new experience, evident in every page of the Acts of the Apostles.

So the word “Trinity” describes the three ways of being, or – to use the language of the early Councils – “persons,” of God. John Bradburne of Mutemwa used to speak of the “the thought, the word and the voice” as three words describing a single reality. John used to worry whether he was being heretical! I see nothing heretical here though we always have to remember Augustine’s warning: “if you think you understand God, it is not God.”

There is no need for us to gaze into the sky. God is with us. God lives in us. But it does mean we have to open up our emptiness and allow God to enter.

22 May 2016                                       Trinity Sunday

Proverbs 8:22-31                                 Romans 5:1-5                          John16:12-15

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