You may have watched the recent Space X rocket launch and seen how quickly the astronauts looked back onto earth after their successful launch. I don’t know about you but seen from this perspective it makes me feel pretty insignificant as all on our planet is viewed from afar. Does my, dare I say our, existence matter? After all none of us are known for building space craft or even electric cars!
Yet in today’s Psalm we heard that the very God who established the moon and stars is mindful of each and every one of us.
Jesus gave us insight into God’s mindfulness of those who feel low, unworthy of attention, lost to God or unable to value themselves. In fact, he sought them out and noticed them on numerous occasions positively mixing with the hated tax collectors, siding with the poor, those shunned because they were considered unclean and numerous other outcasts. This mindfulness came to light as he noticed a despairing woman graze the hem of his garment, even as he was dying and in agony on the cross he was mindful of the penitent thief beside him.
Of course there are plenty of times when we find it hard to acknowledge, accept or even believe that we are constantly held in God’s love but as Paul wrote to the church in Rome ‘nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.’
Undoubtedly a challenging aspect of our relationship with God is whether we are mindful of him and his love for us. If we can keep this in mind then it’s easier to recognise ourselves as people with purpose and value, ultimately people with a future regardless of wherever we find ourselves in the challenging aspects of our lives.
It then becomes possible to pray not only with thoughts and words but through listening, observing, and patient contemplation.
Words from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi say’ Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death-even death on a cross.’
Clearly the mind spoken of by Paul is that which isn’t self-centred but which cares for others, keeps the wellbeing of others in mind even when we cannot be with them in times such as these and it’s encouraging to see this manifest itself in so many forms as people try to support each other. It’s a consoling thought that there must be much in people’s behaviour to each other in this crisis which is pleasing to God.
Matthew’s Jesus tells the 11 to ‘make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’
Even though this is the end of Matthew’s gospel it is also a new beginning where those taught by Jesus are to become teachers themselves, however inadequate they may feel for their task.
Is this about building a franchise, dominating an area or pushing our faith upon others? I don’t think so. In my view it’s got much more to do with what we are really rooted in deep down, how we live our lives every day and how we relate to each other.
We need to keep in mind the words of the Psalmist as he speaks of human beings, ‘Yet you have made them a little lower than God and crowned then with glory and honour.’ It follows that we go directly against God every time we fail to recognise how much he loves and values the entirety of humanity regardless of race or any factor we allow to divide us.
Discipleship will involve working alongside each other and serving each other in ways that make it possible for God’s love to be seen and recognised. We need to keep coming back to Jesus to learn from his teachings to ponder his parables.
I was watching a TV programme this week in which the comedian Jack Dee discussed his attraction to Christianity and that fact that he had a selection interview to become a priest as a young man. The panel soon worked out that this wasn’t his calling and now, much later in life, he agreed that he wouldn’t have been suitable for this role. As much as he retains a positive curiosity about Christianity, for him he said it’s always been the Christians that have put him off taking this any further. I guess he’s not convinced by those he’s met, that they don’t show him anything real about God and as such he’s left hanging in a strange space, labelling himself ‘an Agnostic Christian!’
Whilst he was fairly light-hearted about it all it does make you realise that even when we accept the calling to become disciples we won’t always get it right. If we recall the 11 as they heard what has become labelled as the ‘Great Commission’ we realise that we are in good company among ordinary people with weaknesses and failings just like us. Even as they saw Jesus in today’s gospel reading we hear that ‘some doubted’.
Today is labelled Trinity Sunday in the church calendar. I’ll excuse myself any attempt at an explanation of the Trinity (a word you won’t find anywhere in the bible) by quoting John Wesley. ‘Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the triune God!”
However, like many things the Trinity is no less real because of our inability to completely understand it. Countless attempts to explain it will highlight certain aspects which interrelate, overlap, connect and fuse yet as much as we cannot know God wholly in our earthly lives this too remains part of the mystery.
Our faith and trust in God is such that we know there is nothing untoward in that which we don’t know or comprehend so in baptism we are enfolded in God’s love both in what we know of it and what we do not yet know. How could it be otherwise, would Jesus have told his disciples to baptise others if it wouldn’t bring them closer to him?
The symbolism of cleansing water reminds us that forgiveness and a new start are available to all, that a new life is possible and that once we begin our journey that Jesus will be with us always ‘to the end of the age’.
As we journey on through the weeks ahead let’s continue to keep each other and those needing support in mind, turning to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for guidance.