God of love, increase our faith, deepen our hope, and confirm us in your eternal love, Amen
It was deeply distressing and horrifying to hear on Thursday that the remains of 215 young children had been found on the grounds of the Kamloops Residential School. These First Nations children, some perhaps as young as three, had died while at the school and buried in secret. The deep, dark legacy of residential schools has once again surfaced for those who lost children or siblings in Kamloops, and I’m sure at other schools across the land. It is believed that well over 3000 perhaps as many as 4000 children who attended residential schools never returned home and are unaccounted for. This is a stain on our society, our nation and those who worked in these schools in the name of the church. It is an indictment on those who perpetrated abuse and violence on innocent children who had been forcibly removed from their homes. It is a sign that we still have a long way to go to seek reconciliation for what occurred in our country over the last hundred years or so.
God of love, we are deeply saddened on hearing of the discovery of the remains of over 215 children in Kamloops this week. We pray for their families and all who mourn their loss. We pray that research may identity who these children were so that they may be laid to rest in their own communities. We pray also for all the other children who are missing across our nation, and for their families.
Help us to be mindful of those who have lost ones through the Residential Schools system, and that the finding of these remains make bring some closure to those affected.
In your holy name we pray, Amen
In the first reading we hear of, both the transcendence (the wholly other) of God as well as the immanence (the closeness) of God. God is (according to one commentator) set apart from creation yet we also view divine glory in creation’s fullness. Isaiah remains in God’s presence aware of need for forgiveness and God forgives him, and by definition would seem ready to forgive all others too.
Only when Isaiah has been forgiven can he hear God’s voice and be open to respond to God by taking God’s message to the people he represents. In contrast to many prophets of the Hebrew scripture, Isaiah is eager to go where and when he is sent; zealous to mediate between God and his community.
As all in the temple cry glory, God’s voice shakes the foundations, and, as the same commentator suggests: what does it take to shake us into response?
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday when we acknowledge our faith in the three persons of the Trinity. In the gospel passage, Jesus is in conversation with Nicodemus, a learned man who thinks he understands both who Jesus and God are; but Jesus isn’t so sure. In the fourth gospel the author links light with belief and darkness with unbelief. This may be another reason why Nicodemus comes to Jesus at night, not so much because of his fear, as Jewish leader, of meeting with Jesus, but as we discover, he is as yet an unbeliever who Jesus needs to instruct. First Nicodemus says that he knows Jesus is a teacher from God, because this can be determined by observation, logic, and deduction. And although he is right, his perception is only partial. Jesus says that what appears impossible to us is possible with God.
Jesus then suggests that God loves the world and to save it sent the son to rescue and redeem humanity. Those who put their trust in Jesus will have eternal life (shaped and totally dependent on God’s love), being born of water and the Spirit. The Spirit gives life to believers and like wind, it can blow wherever it wants, and those who see the Spirit (like wind) may see it or hear it or feel it but cannot understand or control it.
We become part of the kingdom of God not by what we know but by our faith. Jesus invites everyone to receive life as God’s gift. By trusting in Jesus and God’s mercy we are forgiven, made whole and remade in God’s image.
The concept of Trinity is a way for human beings to better understand God. It reminds us that God who welcomes us into relationship. The promise of God through the ages, and certainly throughout the Hebrew Scripture, and the New Testament, has been to invite people into relationship, and to make promises with people who time after time break their part of the promise.
As followers of Christ we understand, as we have for generations that God is made known us in three specific ways; first as the Creator who formed the world, the universe and everything contained within. Secondly, God has been made known to us in the person of Jesus Christ, who was born of a woman, Mary; and lived an earthly life for thirty years before setting out on a ministry of healing, teaching, and preaching with a specific group of men and women who supported and accompanied him in his work. Thirdly we understand God to be made known in the world today, in our individual lives as well as in the Church, the Holy Spirit as God’s power and presence.
It is interesting that different people encounter God is very varied ways. It therefore follows that our personal relationship with God may be more specifically with one part (or person) of the Trinity. No one way is correct, just different. What counts is that we experience God rather than how we do. For instance, a vocational call for some people comes in the form of a dramatic ‘Damascus road’ encounter as the way Saul (later Paul) found God. For others, it is a much more gradual process which often comes with setbacks and sometimes losing heart. In fact, for most people, this type of call is most common and the setbacks and losing heart are part of the discerning process, as painful and challenging as those events may seem at the time.
Nicodemus was a person with a specific call yet there is nothing in our gospel passage today to suggest this was the result of a single, dramatic event. This man was a Pharisee, and likely a leader in the community, who came (in fear of his life) to Jesus by night. We can conclude that Nicodemus has seen something of Jesus’ ministry, and he could not help but be drawn to him. Here we have a conversation between two teachers but it also much more than that. In the fourth gospel there is a recurring theme which separates those who understand Jesus from those who don’t. This is at the core of this passage.
Today we celebrate the Trinity of God, the Trinity of love, the three persons of Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, may that love to remove from us, fear, harm, and despair, may that love be our light and life, our hope and peace, our joy, and our challenge.