Weekly comment from the Rector


7th  June 2020 

Greetings to you all on this the eve of Trinity Sunday, the festival on which it was once customary to recite the so-called Athanasian Creed. Athanasius was a 3rd century bishop and teacher who led a vigorous campaign to defend the doctrine of Christ’s divinity against those who believed him to be no more than an inspired teacher. Athanasius was victorious even if his creed,  though enshrined in church doctrine, has never been a hit with congregations. That’s hardly surprising considering it fills three pages of the Prayer Book and contains such gems as The Father eternal, the Son eternal: and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals: but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated: but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. One might be forgiven for thinking the whole thing incomprehensible!

God is of course incomprehensible to the searching mind; not a puzzle to be resolved but  Ultimate Mystery to be apprehended in heart and spirit. And just as Trinitarian faith holds this mystery to be unity in diversity,  a community of persons, it has long been the Christian conviction that there is a particular revelation of God in the community of believers gathered in worship. It is therefore poignant to be writing this at a time when we are not able to gather in worship except remotely by means of zoom. As yet there is no clear indication as to when and how this will change. Early July is frequently mentioned as a time when churches might be opened for private prayer and sometime thereafter for small services in which  worshippers are appropriately distanced. Whenever and however it happens I prefer to think of it not as a slow resumption after a long hiatus but as the rebuilding of the worshipping community on the solid foundation of God in whom we remain united in spite of our enforced experience of prolonged separation.   

The onset of this crisis was marked by a degree of national unity rarely known in peacetime. We were all in it together and were generally willing to accept the restrictions imposed upon us as being for the greater good. In more recent times that unity has been sorely tested with divergent views as to how we emerge safely from lockdown in such a way as to rebuild the economy and restart social, cultural and voluntary activities. Inevitably, some sectors and individuals are  bearing a greater burden than others and it is likely that resentment arising from this will be with us for a long time to come. Suffering is seldom equal and it is instinctive to defend one’s own interests. That however should never be done at the expense of others or heedless of their plight.  God the Holy Trinity is a community of persons in whom relationship is mutual self-giving love. By the Holy Spirit we are drawn into that community which is the ultimate pattern for both church and society. From our present perspective, the future looks particularly daunting but the relevance of faith should not be doubted. The practice of mutual self-giving love is the only sound basis on which we can rebuild. We must cheerfully renew ourselves in that purpose trusting that God will bless our endeavours.  May each of you rejoice in his blessings.

Charles Booth

An order for Evening Prayer for what is prosaically termed Normal Time is included in this mailing. This complements the one for Morning Prayer sent out last week. As Normal Time extends to the end of October, these two are the basic texts for Daily Prayer for some months to come.

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