Friends, brothers, sisters, comrades, just by being here, together this morning, you are blessing yourselves.
Yeah, I know. I would say that. But a Harvard University study published last week says so too. It showed that women who attend a religious service regularly live with a 33% lower mortality rate and show a stronger capacity for recovery from mental and physical illnesses (yes, recovery: no exceptions, we all get sick).
With a world full of religious nut cases and ne’er do wells, it’s good to read about just one more study that shows how life-giving faith in God can be.
‘Sack your God’
I say faith, but a better word for it is trust. To believe in God is one thing, but to let your life be shaped by trust in God is something so much deeper and richer.
And not trust in any old God. Isla Horton from S. Timothy’s knew a wise old nun who gave a downtrodden woman some fantastic advice. ‘Sack your God” she said. “He’s rubbish. Get a new one”.
Exactly. Be prepared to sack your God. Because if your faith, your trust, is not cultivating in you more love and compassion – for yourself and all around you – it’s not the real God we’re talking about. It’s a fake, an imposter, an idol. Give him the sack.
God – Light, Spirit, Love
The New Testament has three main nouns, names, for the Living God: Light, Spirit and Love.
“God is Light”, says S. John, “and in Him there is no darkness”. When you read about God’s almighty compassion, there’s no catch to it, no small print, no shady, way-down-the-page terms and conditions that say, “but that doesn’t include you!’.
No. God is Light. Trust in God shapes you.
“God is Spirit”, says Jesus.
As Spirit, ‘God does not know how to be absent’ (Martin Laird). There is no time or place where God will not Be.
Time: Your past – well God’s got that. Your future – He’s got that too. Your present- He’s here, now. Place: “if I was in hell”, says one Hebrew poet, “your Spirit would be with me”. There’s no place where the Spirit cannot be. You don’t have to go running around searching for God’s presence. You’re in it. Be still, and you can breathe it.
God is Spirit. Trust in God fills you.
And He is Love.
We know God is love not just because He said so, but because He Loved so. In Jesus, God who is Spirit did the unimaginable and became flesh. To show what Love means, God on the cross stretched out His arms. That’s the body language which Love speaks.
But if God is Love, there must always have been someone to love, because love is relational; if there’s no one else to love, there is no love.
Well God loves the world. Yes, but God didn’t just become love when He made the world. God is Love without beginning or end.
So God must have always loved One who is without beginning or end. Yes. God has always loved the Beloved.
The Father has always loved the Son.
Light from Light. God from God.
Love has always poured its heart into the Beloved Son, who has always returned that love.
Love is always a Trinity
Father, Son – but Love is never a two, it’s always a three. Love is always a Trinity,
When you love there’s you,
the one you love,
and the love that flows between you and pours out from you
(that’s always God)
The Love that eternally flows between and out from Father and Son is a Person, the Holy Spirit. Yes, a Person, because there’s nothing impersonal in God.
The One Love: the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that flows from and between.
Threeness and Oneness. You couldn’t count them, because they dwell within each other.
When I think of the three, I see only one Great Flame” S. Gregory Nazianzen.
Yes, one great flame of Light, Spirit and Love.
Trust in this God blesses you,
and sets you free.