Tag Archives: mystery

A sermon for Trinity Sunday

On this Trinity Sunday, I’m going to ask some questions… but not necessarily give any answers……

…… because “it is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”, as Churchill said (in another context).

It’s convoluted, complex, difficult to get to grips with, because we mere human beings can never comprehend the mind nor nature of God…….

……apart from the fact that we believe in the fact that God is love revealed to us in his son, Jesus, and we are guided to Christ, to our Father God, through his Holy Spirit.

So, I’m going to ask questions, but I’m not necessarily going to reach any conclusive answer.

But if, when you go home and think and pray and ponder on these things, you may just get an inkling as to what this may be about.

Let’s start with a story:

Once, during the Great War, a soldier got separated from his comrades. He was wandering about, stunned and aimlessly, when an Officer found him. The poor Tommy couldn’t tell him who he was nor where he had come from.

 

collect pix paul lewis; world war one welch fusiliers.. pilken ridge, belgium july 1917

The Officer had an idea. There was to be a boxing match in a few days time – for a bit of r & r for the troops, away from the horrors of conflict.

He invited the soldier to come along, and, on the day of the match, invited him into the ring.

“Does anybody know this man?” he asked the crowd.

Silence

Then the lost Tommy shouted, “For the love of God, please tell me who I am!!!”

Who am I? A question perhaps a lot of us ask of ourselves. Who am I?

It’s that plaintive cry for meaning, purpose, knowledge, understanding, relationships…. and whatever gives us identity.

Who am I? And, you know, in my case, I don’t really know. I fill a space…..

…..but I can give you some facts; but it’s really data or statistics.

I’m 69 years old in October.

I’ve been an ordained minister for 42 years

I will have been a widower since June 2012.

I have two sons, two granddaughters, and twa dugs.

I’m male – with a 45 year old beard (you know, there’s a name for people who don’t have whiskers….. women ….. on the other hand…no!)

Oh, there are lots of other things about me, if you delve farther

Here’s one that I wear as a badge of honour, even after 60 years or so: at the age of 8 or 9, I was expelled from the Cubs… for bad behaviour

I’ve settled down now….well, a wee bit!

But who am I? Who are you?

We only see a reflection in a mirror, for example, or in a photo or video ….. but, all in all, that’s not the whole story.

What about all the complexities that lie beneath the skin or in the brain. The bulk of us is INSIDE us – veins, blood, arteries, organs and the like?

image

 

Sometimes, we may get a glimpse into who and what a person is.

This is an old way of looking at this, but bear with me:

I want you to imagine a man who is a medical doctor.

What kind of person – generally speaking – do you picture in your mind’s eye?

Someone who is caring, skilful, perspective, educated to a very high level

How about an academic?

Well, let’s picture a scholar as someone analytical, insightful, intelligent. Look at him poring over his books, writing an esoteric paper which only his peers will probably understand.

Lastly, picture a very gifted and talented musician – a professional – classically trained – a maestro in his field. Entertaining, enlightening, even uplifting his audience.

OK – a doctor, a scholar, a musician…… three kinds of people….

….. but they all came together in one brilliant man: Albert Schweitzer who dedicated his life to helping the poor in Africa, teaching them the Gospel, being like a father to them.

image

 

But that somewhat hackneyed comparison doesn’t even scratch the surface of the One in Three, and Three in One.

The concept of the Holy Trinity is an artificial, man-made construct.

Should we not just be happy with “God” in whatever shape, form, or person?

Should we not just put theology to one side and concentrate on living the best kind of life we can, living in the light of God, living in the Spirit of God, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ?

Let’s perceive God as the Son who redeems us;

as the Father who loves us;

as the Spirit who guides us…….

…..all at the same time.

It’s complex.

I started off by saying that I would pose questions – but not necessarily come up with cast-iron unambiguous answers.

Complex, yes – but sometimes isn’t it the case that simple faith, simple hope, and simple faith are all we often really need.

Let me close with a story – it’s a bit obscure, and I’ve read it over many times in its full form, and I think I know what it’s getting at.

It’s a story about three hermits – it’s based on an old Russian tale, adapted by Leo Tolstoy.

Here’s an abbreviated version of it:
A Bishop was once sailing from Archangel to the Solovétsk Monastery, when he heard members of the crew talk of a small island, where certain hermits – holy men – lived.

The Bishop – intrigued – asked to be taken there.

The old men bowed to him, and he gave them his blessing, at which they bowed still lower. Then the Bishop began to speak to them.

‘Tell me,’ said the Bishop, ‘what you are doing to save your souls, and how you serve God on this island.’

‘We do not know how to serve God. We only serve and support ourselves, servant of God.’

‘But how do you pray to God?’ asked the Bishop.

‘We pray in this way,’ replied the hermit. ‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us.’

And when the old man said this, all three raised their eyes to heaven, and repeated:

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us!’

The Bishop smiled.

‘You have evidently heard something about the Holy Trinity,’ said he. ‘But you do not pray aright. to Him.’

And then the Bishop began explaining to the hermits how God had revealed Himself to men; telling them of God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

‘God the Son came down on earth,’ said he, ‘to save men, and this is how He taught us all to pray. Listen and repeat after me: “Our Father.”‘

And the first old man repeated after him, ‘Our Father,’ and the second said, ‘Our Father,’ and the third said, ‘Our Father.’

‘Which art in heaven,’ continued the Bishop.
And they laboriously echoed his words.
And all day long the Bishop laboured, saying a word twenty, thirty, a hundred times over, and the old men repeated it after him. They blundered, and he corrected them, and made them begin again.

Eventually, it was time to leave, and the Bishop said his farewells.

 

image

As his ship sailed away, something strange happened…….the three hermits running upon the water, all gleaming white, their grey beards shining, and approaching the ship at some speed.

The hermits were running after them on the water as though it were dry land.

Before the ship could be stopped, the hermits had reached it, and raising their heads, all three as with one voice, began to say:

‘We have forgotten your teaching, servant of God.We can remember nothing of it. Teach us again.’

The Bishop crossed himself, and leaning over the ship’s side, said:

‘Your own prayer will reach the Lord, men of God. It is not for me to teach you. Pray for us sinners.

And the Bishop bowed low before the old men; and they turned and went back across the sea to their little island.

‘Three are ye, three are we, have mercy upon us!’
Make of that what you will.

I’ve been an ordained minister since 1974 and have been wrestling with this doctrine of the Trinity for over 40 years, and, you know, as long as we live in this wonderful world of creation, as long as we can interrelate with one another in a good and Godly way, then there is God, and there is the Spirit who binds us together, through our common devotion to Jesus Christ.

The Holy Trinity – complex…. yet, in so many respects so simple that it’s startling in its claim

AMEN

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Turin Shroud Mystery

Mystery Over Turin Shroud – It Contains Plant DNA From All Over The World

Scientists are puzzled
Rob WaughRob Waugh – Yahoo News, 20 October 2015

 

image
The mysterious Turin Shroud – supposedly the burial cloth of Jesus – became even more puzzling this week after a DNA study.

Researchers found that the shroud contains DNA from plants all over the world, by sequencing genes from pollen and dust particles.

The research suggests that the relic has travelled widely – there is DNA from India, Turkey and even America.

The researchers believe that some of the plant traces – such as the American ones – may date from after the mediaeval period.

The researchers believe that the shroud may have been made in India, before travelling via other countries such as Turkey.

‘Here we report the main findings from the analysis of genomic DNA extracted from dust particles vacuumed from parts of the body image and the lateral edge used for radiocarbon dating,’ said Dr Gianni Barcaccia of the University of Padova.

‘Among the plant species of the New World, black locust, a tree of the family Fabaceae native to Appalachia in the Eastern United States, is notable,’

‘In addition, we identified crop species largely grown by farmers and common in many agriculture systems of the Old World, including chicory, common hop, cucumber and grapevine.’

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Sometimes a Wild God (via Fergus)

Sometimes a Wild God

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine.

When the wild god arrives at the door,
You will probably fear him.
He reminds you of something dark
That you might have dreamt,
Or the secret you do not wish to be shared.
He will not ring the doorbell;
Instead he scrapes with his fingers
Leaving blood on the paintwork,
Though primroses grow
In circles round his feet.
You do not want to let him in.
You are very busy.
It is late, or early, and besides…
You cannot look at him straight
Because he makes you want to cry.
The dog barks.
The wild god smiles,
Holds out his hand.
The dog licks his wounds
And leads him inside.

The wild god stands in your kitchen.
Ivy is taking over your sideboard;
Mistletoe has moved into the lampshades
And wrens have begun to sing
An old song in the mouth of your kettle.
‘I haven’t much,’ you say
And give him the worst of your food.
He sits at the table, bleeding.
He coughs up foxes.
There are otters in his eyes.
When your wife calls down,
You close the door and
Tell her it’s fine.
You will not let her see
The strange guest at your table.

The wild god asks for whisky
And you pour a glass for him,
Then a glass for yourself.
Three snakes are beginning to nest
In your voice box. You cough.
Oh, limitless space.
Oh, eternal mystery.
Oh, endless cycles of death and birth.
Oh, miracle of life.
Oh, the wondrous dance of it all.
You cough again,
Expectorate the snakes and
Water down the whisky,
Wondering how you got so old
And where your passion went.

The wild god reaches into a bag
Made of moles and nightingale-skin.
He pulls out a two-reeded pipe,
Raises an eyebrow
And all the birds begin to sing.
The fox leaps into your eyes.
Otters rush from the darkness.
The snakes pour through your body.
Your dog howls and upstairs
Your wife both exalts and weeps at once.

The wild god dances with your dog.
You dance with the sparrows.
A white stag pulls up a stool
And bellows hymns to enchantments.
A pelican leaps from chair to chair.
In the distance, warriors pour from their tombs.
Ancient gold grows like grass in the fields.
Everyone dreams the words to long-forgotten songs.
The hills echo and the grey stones ring
With laughter and madness and pain.
In the middle of the dance,
The house takes off from the ground.
Clouds climb through the windows;
Lightning pounds its fists on the table.
The moon leans in through the window.

The wild god points to your side.
You are bleeding heavily.
You have been bleeding for a long time,
Possibly since you were born.
There is a bear in the wound.
‘Why did you leave me to die?’
Asks the wild god and you say:
‘I was busy surviving.
The shops were all closed;
I didn’t know how. I’m sorry.’

Listen to them:
The fox in your neck and
The snakes in your arms and
The wren and the sparrow and the deer…
The great un-nameable beasts
In your liver and your kidneys and your heart…
There is a symphony of howling.
A cacophony of dissent.

The wild god nods his head and
You wake on the floor holding a knife,
A bottle and a handful of black fur.
Your dog is asleep on the table.
Your wife is stirring, far above.
Your cheeks are wet with tears;
Your mouth aches from laughter or shouting.
A black bear is sitting by the fire.

Sometimes a wild god comes to the table.
He is awkward and does not know the ways
Of porcelain, of fork and mustard and silver.
His voice makes vinegar from wine
And brings the dead to life.

by Coyopa

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Key Elements for a Short Story

the ideal story should include Religion, Royalty,Sex and Mystery.

The best example of this is:

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” said the Duchess,”I’m pregnant – I wonder who the father could be?”

Leave a comment

Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic