Trinity Sunday 

12th June 2022


Today’s readings have been chosen to reflect different aspects of the Trinity. I wonder what they might also say about our relation with the earth.

The first reading from Proverbs introduces us to God as creator and to Wisdom as the aspect of God that co-exists alongside creation. The reading displays the dynamic partnership that exists between God and creation and which seeks in particular to embrace the human race. Wisdom is there to make sense of creation and to pass that divine understanding on to those who are willing to hear. Those who hear and engage with Wisdom will learn how the world could and should be. 

Psalm 8 presents a similar message where it is made clear that mortals, humanity have a special role in God’s creation. This is a particular calling to seek out and understand the beauty and wonder of creation and to care for it accordingly. This is a wisdom that will act as a ‘bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger’. The wisdom that God’s people can seek and find in creation is one that will produce solutions to the problems we face, that will enable harmony and peace to be realised here in earth. 

However in the human time frame, such wisdom does not exempt us from strife and suffering. We know that even when Jesus took on our human form, he was not exempt from suffering. As we try and follow his example, we should not expect exemption either, but as Paul writes we have faith and hope to sustain us. And that we have been been filled with God’s love through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The world’s suffering should not dishearten us (although it is easy to have moments when we feel totally overcome) but rather should spur is on to seek and act upon God’s wisdom. So it is that, time and again, in John’s Gospel, Jesus reminds  us that the Holy Spirit will inspire and equip us, and guide us into an ever deepening relationship with God the Trinity.

The features of the divine trinity – communication, harmony, dynamism – are reflected in the relationship between God and creation and humanity.

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31

Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?

On the heights, beside the way,
at the crossroads she takes her stand;

beside the gates in front of the town,
at the entrance of the portals she cries out:

“To you, O people, I call,
and my cry is to all that live.

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.

Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.

When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.

Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth–

when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.

When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,

when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,

when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;

and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.”

Psalm 8

 O Lord, our Sovereign,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

    Out of the mouths of babes and infants
you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
    to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
    the moon and the stars that you have established;

what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
    mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
    and crowned them with glory and honour.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
    you have put all things under their feet,

all sheep and oxen,
    and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
    whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign,
    how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Romans 5:1-5

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

John 16:12-15

Jesus said to the disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.”

Sunday Reflection

15th August 2021

Readings for proper 15: Proverbs 9:1-6, Psalm 34:9-14, Ephesians 5:15-20, John 6:51-58

Today’s readings begin with a description from Proverbs of the house built be Wisdom. Wisdom is personified here as a woman. The Hebrew word chokmoth is feminine as is the Greek word sophia and the Latin word sapientia. Perhaps then it is not surprising that wisdom is seen as a woman. Her house is a grand, or maybe a perfect, place, having seven pillars. We aren’t told how these seven pillars are arranged, maybe in a circle? Seven is an important number in Hebrew suggesting completeness, eg as in the work of God being completed in seven days. It is a place of learning for those whose minds are simple – unencumbered, open minded, free from complicated superstitions or beliefs. Free too from feelings of self aggrandisement or superiority. For these people Wisdom offers a place to stay – to rest and/or live, to learn and/or worship – and a place where food and drink is served: nourishment that may be a metaphor for knowledge and learning. It is a house where those who enter are enabled to move from immaturity to maturity. It is a  place to gain insight and thus, life. 

Today’s psalm is also exploring the idea of being shaped by God’s wisdom. The word translated as fear, as in fear of God, can also have the meaning of being in awe, and indeed fear and awe can be experienced as similar. Such awe is gained through being open and child-like and of being metaphorically fed. In this way it reflects the idea from Proverbs of wisdom and openness and of being fed. It makes explicit the importance of seeking God, of wanting to be fed, of seeking peace and prosperity (for which we might read well-being if for us ‘prosperity’ implies a focus on ill gotten gains or greed). It is also clear that seeking God, seeking wisdom or the right way of living, is about choosing between doing evil and doing good. 

True wisdom is living with God, following God’s ways. 

The letter to the Ephesians is also giving advice as how to live wisely. Again it is about understanding the will of God and following that rather than the ways of debauchery. Here the source of instruction or inspiration is the Spirit – the breath that comes from God – which arouses in us joy and song and thanksgiving. 

The passage from John’s gospel is part of the long and slowly unfolding exposition on Jesus as the bread of life. One feels the writer is increasingly bogged down with understanding this as being both a physical and a spiritual experience. Perhaps it would help us to think of ways in which we use food and drink as metaphors. We may use the phrase ‘it is meat and drink to me’ to described the pleasure or support something gives us. Or we may talked about an activity as ‘being all consuming’ to describe how it takes over our lives again giving us joy and/or  fulfilment. In the same way seeking out, or living in relationship with, Jesus – and through Jesus with God – might be described using either or both of these phrases. And yet neither would fully describe our experience of knowing and of being known by, Jesus. Perhaps as suggested in Proverbs, it is easier to gain wisdom by being simple minded.