Tag Archives: icon of the Trinity

The Trinity of Love

Readings
Isaiah 6.1–8
John 3.1–17

‘Jesus’ signifies the human being whose personhood is eternally caught up in relation with God and the Spirit. The name of the Trinity signifies the eternal bond of tripersonal love revealed in the man Jesus. Christians know, as deeply as they know anything, that God without Christ and the Spirit is remote and unavailing, that Christ without God and the Spirit is a martyred saint, that the Spirit without God and Christ is power bereft of form and direction. Faith lives from the interconnection of the three. — R Kendall Soulen, The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity, Kindle ed., loc.198

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The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

That’s 2 Corinthians 13.13, the last verse of that letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

That’s the second-last verse of the Gospel According to Matthew. 

The New Testament is full of passages in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are spoken of in one breath. These passages are building blocks of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

It’s Trinity Sunday. So let’s make time for a little art appreciation. 

Why art appreciation? Because a picture paints a thousand words; and even thousands upon thousands of words may still obscure the beauty of our God, the Holy Trinity of Love. 

Rublev

This is an icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, painted (or ‘written’) by a monk called Andrei Rublev about 600 years ago. 

It’s based on the story of three angels who pop in on Abraham and Sarah by the oaks of Mamre in Genesis 18. Abraham gives them a meal. Before we get very far into the story though, the angels are being spoken of together as one being: the Lord. 

In other words, by the end of the story the three are one. You can see why that excited people’s imaginations with thoughts of the Holy Trinity.

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Led by the Spirit (Ordinary Sunday 16,Year A, 17 July 2011)

Readings
Romans 8.12-25
Matthew 13.24-30

Two weeks ago, we talked about rules. We said, ‘rules may hurt as much as they help’. We spoke about a rule-bound shop where everything got messed up because the manager was trying to exert control by a system of rules to which the shop assistant stuck too rigidly.

We said that rules are good, rules are fine, but following them too rigidly can harm relationships in the workplace, in church or at home.

The Apostle Paul had been bound by rules. We call his set of rules the Jewish Law and we find it in the first five books of the Old Testament. Paul was in a real predicament. The Law was good, it came from God. It showed him right from wrong. But by obeying the Law, he ended up doing harm in quite a spectacular way when he persecuted the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. He discovered that we can set off to do the right thing, but if all we do is follow the rules we can’t be sure we’ll achieve the good we set out to do.

The truth is, if we want to live well, the answer isn’t in rules and laws. The power of sin is too great. It taints our best efforts.

So, if following rules isn’t the way, what is?

Let’s look at Romans chapter 8 for an answer. Here, Paul says:

So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear…

Paul has been on a journey of the spirit.

  • He has stopped living ‘according to the flesh’.
  • He has ‘put to death the deeds of the body’.
  • He will not ‘fall back into ‘fear’.

It may surprise you to hear that when Paul talks about the ‘flesh’, he isn’t necessarily talking about sexual sin. When he persecuted the Church, he lived in the fear of God; and Paul says he was living ‘according to the flesh’ at that time.

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