We might have been away but we weren’t out of touch. The fire. The election. ELCE Church politics. Marriage matters. Unemployment. Health concerns. People’s choices. Good news moments. Pregnancy. Hospital. Tests. Walking in the shadow of death. Reconciliations. And more. All intertwined with sunshine, azure water, amazing geology, boating, swimming, nice food, and scenery we’d never seen before. Not in the UK or Australia, I was very much aware of what was happening there. That’s what it’s like in our inter-connected world these days. Geography is not irrele-vant by any means but we no longer are so dominated by place or postcode and by the people we meet on the street, at work, face to face.
How has your week been? What matters face-to-face and in cyber-space affected you? What did you do? What could you do?
Well, I replied to what I felt I needed to but left emails un-opened as well. I was confident that the people in the ge-ography could handle things. I was thankful I could ‘pick up and put down’ things and people didn’t expect me to do more. I have learnt over my ministry that wish as I might to be present with people I did “fail ‘Omnipresence’ at the Seminary!”. There has only been one occasion in my ministry – that I recall – when I’ve beaten the ambu-lance to the hospital (in Australia … I walked into the Emergency Dept having been tele-phoned by the wife about her husband’s heart attack before he had arrived … much to the hospital’s amusement … I said I wasn’t touting for business (!) … and it all ended happily) but usually I turn up ‘afterwards’ – after a phone call, after the news, after the event. Then together we might try and see what God is doing. Because that’s the issue with the Christian Faith – something we might forget in the ‘moment’ – that God is for us and not against us; that God works even evil into something good (and yes, evil is still evil); and that God’s ways are not necessarily my ways. I know that we can – and the world most definitely can – regard those last comments about God as ‘pious waffle’ that don’t really help. I can’t argue against that opinion – if it is held, it is held – but I can point to the source of those comments – and that takes us to Jesus.
In last week’s bulletin I presented Dürer’s 1511 woodcut of The Holy Trinity which I find very powerful. Do you remember it? There is the grieving father holding his dead son, above which flies a dove and they are observed by angelic beings who seem, to me, to be both grief-stricken and awe-struck. It is the story of that picture – as told from Genesis to Revelation – that can and does give meaning to life that, I think, is a life in all its fullness. Because it draws us to the truth that in this world that we are responsible for our behaviour – and that our rela-tionships govern our behaviour – and now the mystery and the wonder – that this Trinitarian relationship provides the best frame of reference for shaping our identity and our behaviour.
What did this all mean for me on holidays? I suspect that same thing it means for you when you hear of what is happening near and far in relation to you – that you pray – for the people and the situation (of course) but also that in praying that you seek to grow in trusting God –
‘cause it can be hard to do! – to trust that his holy name, his coming kingdom, and his will are what you want in your life! And no matter our geography or the geography of the news, this God who serves through sacrifice, will never abandon us and he leads us in what to do in re-sponse. — GS