The Rector writes …
Whatever effects the present pandemic has had it has served to undermine confidence in so many people. As we begin to return slowly to some kind of normality there are those around us – not always the elderly – who are finding it difficult to come to terms with the sense of apprehension which has been engendered over the past months. Rightly government and the media have kept the dangers of the spread of Covid-19 in the forefront of our consciousness but the required isolation has taken a heavy toll on the emotional and mental well-being of those already vulnerable. While the naïve belief in inevitable progress perhaps needed a jolt, and it is no bad thing to realise that “the fault of Adam” is endemic to the human condition, it is still sad to see that among our neighbours there are those experiencing deep insecurity and fear for the immediate future.
As Christians we are part of the society in which we find ourselves: this means that we share the susceptibilities of our fellow citizens. It would be strange if we were not sensing something of the present dis-ease, but our faith should be adding another dimension so that present concerns do not compromise the sense of hope we have in Christ. God is mystery and must ever remain so – “no one has ever seen God: it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18) – but belief in his Incarnation involves the acceptance that all that we need to know about his Being is revealed in what Jesus was and said and did. “In his body lies the fullness of divinity” (Colossians 2:9). The self-definition offered by God reveals that his essential nature can be summed up in the word love, and that the glimpse we are offered into the Godhead, provided by Christ, shows this love as necessarily relational, that, while solitary, God is not alone – the Divinity exists in Trinitarian intimacy.
There is an old chestnut of a story which involves a man knocked down by a car in a north London street. As he lies in the gutter, a priest comes by and immediately kneels by him and begins the Last Rites as part of which he asks: “Do you believe in God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit?”. The response of the injured man is sharp: “Here I am lying in the road dying and all you can do is to ask me a riddle”. Too often we view the Trinity as some sort of mathematical puzzle rather than the source of our hope for this life and the next. If we can accept this basic Christian concept of a Godhead which is in itself a communion of love then our view of the world must be positive – it cannot be anything else. Despite every sign to the contrary – and there are so many, not least Covid-19 – the whole created order offers a true reflection of its Creator and can only be conceived as an overflow of that communal relationship which binds the Three as One.
In the Book of Genesis we are given the kindly picture of God resting after bringing this world into being, and: “God saw all he had made, and indeed it was very good” (2:31). Although we are so easily overwhelmed (and depressed) by the constant pressure of negativity which is the consequence of the force of evil, we need to remind ourselves, and those around us, that as the Song of Solomon has it: “the flash of love is a flash of fire, a flame of God himself. Love no flood can quench, no torrents drown”. The strongest force at work in this world is the love that comes from the heart of God: everything pales into insignificance before that fundamental truth. For the Christian, the proof positive of this loving intention is to be found in the Paschal Mystery, “love so mazing, so divine”. Yes, of course, we cannot but share in the disturbance and apprehension felt all around us, but this is more than balanced by our conviction that ”nothing can ever separate us from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus, our Lord” (Romans 8:38) and with the hope expressed in the Letter to the Ephesians: “that Christ may live in your hearts through faith, and then, planted in love and built on love, you will with all the saints have strength to grasp the breadth and the length, the height and the depth, until knowing the love of Christ, which is beyond all knowledge, you are filled with the utter fullness of God” (3:17). Amen to that.