Trinity Sunday (Genesis 1:1-2:4, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20)
George Floyd was a human being, not perfect, but human, like you and me. Part of God’s creation. His unjust, untimely death has once again caused anger, sadness, questions about individuals and society. There is something here that feels so fundamentally wrong; yet, perhaps we feel somewhat distant from it all. We are not. Bias, perceptions, assumptions rest within all of us. Like an iceberg much of this is hidden even from ourselves. Jesus was excellent at sifting through and highlighting assumptions and bias. The privileged who sought to keep others at arms length, the assumption that somehow others were different, less human. Jesus met this head on and paid with his life.
In Christ, God plunges headlong into this messy, broken world not to condemn the world but that all might have life and have it in abundance. Jesus shows us what it is to be truly human. Through the Spirit we are gifted the invitation and opportunity to join in with this divine humanity, to live in Christ.
In the Church’s calendar it is Trinity Sunday. The idea of Trinity can lead us into the convulsions of Greek philosophy and vain attempts to illustrate what we mean – not easy when we are trying to say something about infinite mystery! Living in Scotland I have now discovered the ideal phrase that is a suitable response to the entanglement of Greek philosophers: ‘Dinnae fash yersel!’
Having said that I note another helpful phrase contained in the Methodist Worship Book: ‘In faith let us pray to God our Father, in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit.’ These are the opening words for the prayers of intercession (Holy Communion, third order, ordinary seasons). In the preceding service we use the phrase ‘God our Father and our Mother’ in the prayer of thanksgiving before sharing the bread and wine. Addressing God as Father and Mother is something, as Methodists, we affirm.
We are praying to God who is infinite, beyond our understanding, creator. We address God in terms of a relationship (Mother/Father) which draws deeper into God – the trinity is relationship. We pray in the name of his son (relationship), Jesus Christ. Jesus is the tangible, the knowable, the example, the beginning and end. Through the gospels we can see Jesus and get to know him even as we are fully known. This becomes the lens through which we relate to God, scripture, the world, one another, ourselves. When we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are immersing ourselves in the Jesus story, in the life of Christ. We are able to pray (and live and move and have our being) through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is the life of God breathing within us and all people, all creation.
We don’t need to be able to explain but simply in faith, pray. As we pray, we immerse ourselves in relationship with God, with one another (church), with the world, with those in particular need. In the grace of this relationship we are able to face our own shortcomings and challenge the privilege, the assumptions that seek to work against creation. The police officer who kneeled on the neck of George Floyd for 9 minutes somehow thought that was ok (as did the others watching). Such actions and the attitudes that underlie them must be called out as Jesus did in his day. There is a righteous anger that is appalled that such a thing has happened (again!), anger at an attitude that allows the dehumanising of one by another because of the colour of skin. But we cannot allow our anger to become hatred recognising the Police Officers are also human beings, imperfect like you and me, part of God’s creation. It is immensely sad that in perceiving another as somehow less human, it is actually the police officers who, in their destruction, attack their own humanity. Justice is necessary, redemption is possible.
We have been created in the image of a beautiful God. When that creation is attacked and destroyed, Jesus shows us the way, demanding justice tempered by mercy. The gracious act of resurrection offers new life and hope. Flowing from that, God breathes in our lives and the life of the world strengthening us to confront ourselves and our communities as we seek divine humanity for all.
May the blessing of God disturb and encourage us, the justice and mercy of Christ reign in our hearts, and the power of the Holy Spirit send us out with energy and peace to live and work in the world.
With love, Nick