Saturday, May 25, 2013

Where Is God?

For over six months now, I have been actively looking for a new posting. My current post, in Liverpool Diocese, comes to an end (at least on paper) next month. Today I received the latest in a growing pile of correspondence informing me that I had not been offered a post I had applied for. This in itself is alright – my prayer is not, ‘Let me get this job’ but, ‘Your will be done’ – but there is only so many times you can stomach being told that you will be outstanding...somewhere else.

We had hoped that we would know by now. Indeed, originally we had hoped that we would have been able to move next week. For several good reasons, that was our preferred timing. We’re not living in a war zone, or with cancer, but we have been living – and continue to live – with a protracted season of uncertainty: and while we can’t put life on hold, neither are we able to make firm plans. This takes its toll, in many ways, some bigger than others.

The situation we find ourselves in is further complicated by the various expectations of others, most of which, however well-meant, are fairly unhelpful.

Where is God in all this? And how might Trinity Sunday resource our continued watching and waiting?

God is where God has always been: seated on the throne in heaven. As Christians have needed to be reminded ever since the letters that form the New Testament were written, things look very different from a heavenly perspective. Our circumstances are precarious, even when they look secure; but God is at work to bring about his good will, not by coercion or inevitability but by the world-overthrowing power of love.

Christians believe that there is one God, and that this one God exists in the form of a community. As we also believe that we are made in the likeness of this God, that invites us to understand ourselves as persons – existing in indivisible relationship to others – and not, as is prevalent in western culture, as individuals – a sub-human form of life. But the Trinity is a mystery: that is to say, though it can be known, through revelation, it cannot be exhausted by our understanding. Unlike every good gift in creation, it is an infinite resource given us. And at present, I am reflecting on Rublev’s icon as a window into that greater reality.

According to Rublev’s symbolism, the Spirit reaches out to us, drawing us deeper into a life of prayer; from which vantage-point we see a greater revelation of the Son as our peace and as our pilgrim’s shelter on the way to the Father; who, in turn, we experience as the one in whom we find our permanent home. We meet the Spirit in the wilderness at the very edge of the Promised Land; the Son beneath the tree where Abraham camped as one who held the Promise in potential, or the tree where Deborah sat to exercise God’s wise judgements within the Land, or the tree in Micah’s great vision (Micah 4:1-8, which combines mountain and tree and house with watchtower); and the Father as fulfilment of his Promise.

When we are reminded that our home is the Father’s house – that we are a child of God – and that Christ is our peace and that the Spirit draws us into this deeper reality through the unpromising foothills of circumstance [the children enter Narnia because of the Blitz] those circumstances are restored to their rightful perspective: not as trivial (to be dismissed), but as boastful (and passing); not as an illusion (to be denied), but as a place of grace (where death fails to keep its grasp on life).

And so we persevere, allowing the Trinity to come to us, welcoming travellers only to discover that it is they who welcome us in...

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