Letter from our Minister

3rd June 2020 

Dear Friends,
This Sunday, 7th June, is known as Trinity Sunday. It’s perhaps the Sunday most dreaded by preachers and ministers, and indeed is often chosen as a good day to be away on holiday, as I should be this week!
There are several phrases that have come to mind as I’ve thought about preaching on this Sunday in the past, among them “it’s like knitting with fog” and “it’s like herding cats”. I think that the latter may well be easier! Often the listening is difficult too. Over the years you may have heard many sermons on the subject of the Trinity. It’s likely that you’ve also seen many visual aids and heard many illustrations that were intended to explain the Trinity: three leaf clover; triangle; water, steam and ice; three primary colours of light; tripod; egg (yolk, white and shell). Perhaps you’ve sometimes wondered whether the minister or preacher knew what they were talking about!
The difficulties arise because God is beyond our understanding, and when we attempt to explain the Trinity we’re faced with what can only be described as “mystery”. It’s relatively easy to think and talk about each person of the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Whilst there will always be aspects that we don’t understand we have a sense of the character of each, and perhaps some insight into how each interacts with the others. Perhaps that’s all we’ll ever manage. If it is, then we can console ourselves with the thought that Christians throughout the history of the church have had the same theological struggles.
Sometimes, for sanity’s sake, we must move away from trying to understand the mysterious and inexplicable and settle for working with what we can know. Perhaps this is why the word “Trinity” isn’t in our translations of the Bible! For me, the most important thing is knowing that the relationship at the heart of the Trinity isn’t exclusive but is open to embracing each one of us. As we grow in our relationship with God we may have glimpses of this mystery which we’ve struggled to understand with our intellect, but even if we don’t we can be sure that we’re embraced, loved and guided by Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Andrei Rublev’s famous icon “Trinity” depicts the three angels who visited Abraham but is interpreted as an icon of the Holy Trinity. When it was painted in the 15th century the Holy Trinity was the embodiment of spiritual unity, peace, harmony, mutual love and humility. Perhaps we can imagine ourselves sitting at the table with them. There does seem to be room for us.
With this letter is another Biblical reflection, following the method I introduced to you a few weeks ago. It involves a number of steps and works best if you move between them, on a walk, in your garden, from room to room, or even from one chair to another.

Finally, please remember that I, the elders and other church members, are here for you.  If you need someone to talk to or to pray with you please get in touch.  Also, Dawn Weald (Heath’s Parish Nurse) will be happy to receive phone calls from people, in any of our churches, who feel that they might benefit from talking to her. 07803 295002

God bless,

God bless, Heather

The Trinity: a Biblical reflection

Take your time! Linger on each section, prayerfully reflecting, listening to what the Lord says and speaking with him. When he guides you to go on to the next step, change your physical location.

1. “Show me your glory” (Exodus 33:18-20)
Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.” And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
Jesus has made visible what Moses could not see. He said, “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.” (John 14:9). But Moses’ desire was to see God’s glory; to know more fully who He is. Make this your own prayer as you draw near to God who is described in the hymn “Holy, holy, holy” as “God in three persons, blessed Trinity’.

2. “The Son of God” (Romans 1:1-4)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God – the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
After the resurrection, Thomas fell at Jesus’ feet declaring “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Ask the Lord to help you see what these verses say about him and respond to him in prayer.

3. “The Spirit of truth” (John 14:16-17)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you for ever – the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
What do these verses tell us about the Holy Spirit’s origins, role, character and location? Ask the Spirit what he wants to show you about himself today, and how that is meant to impact your life.

4. “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15-16)
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Jesus taught us to think of God as our Father in heaven and ourselves as his children. The Holy Spirit makes that relationship real in our own experience, so that each of us can know that we are God’s child. Pray for a fresh awareness of what it means to be a child of your heavenly Father and respond as the Spirit leads you.

5. “The grace…” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
This familiar phrase brings together all three persons of the Trinity in our prayers. Ask the Lord to speak to you in a fresh way about his grace, love and fellowship, and about your relationship with God as Trinity.
Based on material developed by Presbyterian-Reformed Ministries International.
Take your time! Linger on each section, prayerfully reflecting, listening to what the Lord says and speaking with him. When he guides you to go on to the next step, change your physical location.

 

13th May 2020

Dear Friends,

The difficult circumstances surrounding the coronavirus continue and for most of us normal life is still on hold, but time isn’t standing still. Eastertide continues; we’re approaching the 6th Sunday of Easter and then Ascension Day on Thursday 21st.

Following the news of the empty tomb the disciples had several encounters with the risen Christ; experiences that gave them proof that Jesus was indeed alive. Perhaps they thought that this would be a permanent state of affairs, but it was to be temporary. The day would come when they would see Jesus ascend to heaven.

Jesus had tried to prepare them for all this. He had told them that he would be crucified and would be raised to life. He also told them what would happen next. One of the set readings for this Sunday is John 14:15-21, where Jesus tells the disciples that he is leaving them and gives them three promises to allay some of their uncertainty and fear.

First, Jesus promises that the Father will send the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth. He is the Spirit of Jesus: he will be with them forever representing Jesus when he is no longer bodily present, and he will support them in the days to come as they do his work in the world. His second promise is that he will come again. This isn’t about the second coming of Jesus at “the end”, but a recognition that because Jesus and the Spirit are inseparable he will be with the disciples in the presence of the Spirit.  The third promise is that both Father and Son will live with and within the disciples.

There’s much reassurance for the disciples here. Jesus will leave them, but they won’t have to face the future on their own.  The Spirit, who will come to them at Pentecost, is the power of Jesus present even whilst he is physically absent.

In the Greek the pronouns used in the promises are all second person plural, which means that they were made to the disciples as a community rather than as individuals. This tells us that our ongoing relationship with God exists within a community of faith. Jesus tells the disciples and all who come after them, that they can be in relationship with the Father and the Son after the resurrection and ascension. They, and we, can love him even after he is gone.   We do this by keeping his commandments, which are summed up in his command to love.  Those who keep the commandments are those who love, and those who love will keep the commandments.  Whilst we can’t physically meet together in our church building it’s a great comfort to know that the relationship of love that we each have with God also binds us to one another in love for one another.

Finally, please remember that I, the elders and other church members, are here for you.  If you need someone to talk to or to pray with you please get in touch.  Also, Dawn Weald (Heath’s Parish Nurse) will be happy to receive phone calls from people, in any of our churches, who feel that they might benefit from talking to her. 07803 295002

God bless,

God bless, Heather