1st Sunday after Trinity – One and All, Individual and Universal
On his way to Jerusalem Jesus instructs his disciples in the demands and the expectations to come. Discipleship is a hard road ahead he warns, you had better be prepared for what it will require of you.
We know in our hearts that we always hold something back, out of caution, out of fear, out of the simple desire to place our own desires, our own advantage, our own comfort before the call of Jesus that we can hear, that is often repeated to us, but we have learned to temper, to compromise and to water down.
But if we can acknowledge this tendency, we are at least taking the first faltering steps towards spiritual growth and the development of our souls
It was once said by a famous politician that ‘there is no such thing as society’, but one could counter by saying that there is actually no such thing as an individual. For our experiences of one another, temporary as those encounters may sometimes be, can well influence who we are and who we later become. And if even transient encounters can shape us, how much more profoundly might we be affected and re-made by some of the most loving and powerful relationships of our lives? We do not remain the same, we are not untouched – we grow, we are moved, we become a quite different person to the one who might have been. We live our lives, we find our meaning in and through relationship. When we look at the Trinity we see this reality already expressed, already lived, timeless and eternal.
People’s imaginations are ignited; they can be fired up with energy, emotions can become inflamed, someone has a fiery temper, our hearts can be on fire, we can have a burning desire to succeed, or a burning hatred. When we use the imagery, the metaphor, the meaning of fire we are saying something very clear, very dramatic. That whatever is happening goes far, far beyond the everyday, the normal the expected, the controllable. When we say something, a place, an emotion, a person, is on fire, we mean that they are energised, passionate, erupting, growing, expanding – out of control. When something is on fire it rages, it spreads, it is reaching out, running away with itself; it is wild, elemental, untamed, unstoppable. People can often ask the question ‘What actually happened at Pentecost?’ I wonder whether a more fruitful question is ‘What happened after Pentecost?’.