My first childhood home, in the 1980s, was situated at the bottom of a cul-de-sac. During the weekends and school holidays, all the kids would ‘play out’ and we enjoyed street games such as ‘Letters in Your Name’ and ‘Kirby’. It was fun, but me and another little girl were at least 4 years younger than the rest, so we were often the first to be ‘out’ or told we were ‘too little’ to join in. So we became our own little gang, just the two of us. It was a friendship of convenience, living opposite each other and being the same age, but we also had shared interests and a mutual sense of mischief; nothing gave us more pleasure than hiding the ball from the older kids when they wouldn’t let us join in.
Like many things in ‘lockdown life’ thinking about friendship is both bitter and sweet. I miss my current friends with an aching and longing that I would never have predicted. At the same time, I’ve had a chance to reflect and realise just how blessed I am to have these people that I miss.
Proverbs 27.9 tells us ‘a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.’ Indeed, is there anything better than being in the company of someone who just ‘gets’ you; someone who offers kindness, acceptance, wisdom... preferably with a big dose of fun? I still love friends who are a little bit mischievous!
Trinity Sunday, is when the Church traditionally celebrates the 'mystery' of One God who is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We have various analogies to try to explain this, th one most clear to me is the explanation that God is like ice, steam and water, three distinct forms but all made from the same one substance, H2O. It’s a useful analogy, to an extent but of course it didn’t answer all of our questions, we call it a mystery for a reason!
We believe God to be three distinct persons but united they are One:
God the Father - who lovingly created the world.
God the Son - human flesh, who walked among us.
God the Spirit - A powerful presence around all of creation and in each of us.
The beauty, love and nature of God is expressed in these three district persons but also in the way that God exists in relationship to God’s own self. The Bible tells us that Jesus frequently took himself off to pray to his Father, and at Jesus’ baptism the Spirit of God descends and a voice is heard saying ‘this is my beloved Son with whom I am pleased.’ We see an interaction between each part of the Trinity and yet Jesus also says, ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10.30). So within God’s own self, there is relationship, God is community or to put it another way, trinity is friendship.
In the first story of creation we also see this relational nature of God, as God makes humans in the divine image. ‘In the beginning, the Spirit of God was hovering over the water and God made humans in ‘our image’. The next creation story tells us that God saw it was not good for the first human to be alone, so a second was crafted from the first; it’s a beautiful image of human connection and equality. Scientists have long observed that the whole of creation only exists in connection to one another; no one and nothing is ever truly independent. So right from the beginning of creation we have a relational God, making relational people, in a relational world. This is why throughout all ages, and in all places, humans have a need for union and friendship with others. It’s one of the main reasons why this time in isolation is so difficult for many of us, absolutely necessary, but nether-the-less hard. We were made for friendship.
My favourite people are usually those that laugh easily, I have a friend who makes me cry laughing and her company really is so good for the soul, I love to be with her and I’m fully assured by her belly laughs that she also enjoys my company; and that is such a gift. There’s nothing better than being in the company of someone you like, who looks back at you with mutual affection. This is the kind of relationship we can have with God, one where we can relax, fully assured that we are known, we are understood, and we are utterly loved.
The triune God’s main purpose and nature is to draw each of us into the embrace of the eternal, divine, friendship. The mystics say that creation itself is the fourth person of the Trinity because God is always seeking to connect and love. In John 15:15 we are told that we don’t have the status of servants to God, rather God calls us ‘friends’. And what a friendship this is! Unlike our human relationships, God’s love is perfect, unfaltering and utterly lavish. God rejoices when we are at our best, and by grace, loves us when we are at our worst.
As we continue in ‘isolation’ may we be thankful for the people that we miss but also know that in any sadness or joy, we are never alone.
God is with you, God is for you and God delights in you.
The reflections here are written by members of our congregation.