Monday, 14 August 2017

The still, small voice of God

1 Kings 19: 9-18 (page 301 in our pew Bibles) The still small voice of God speaks to Elijah, called a low whisper in our translation, or "a thin silence" in some others. God can speak to us in any way He likes but it certainly doesn't have to be dramatic.
Romans 10: 5-15 (page 946 in our pew Bibles) The assurance of salvation has to be preached. This is the solemn duty of every minister of the gospel.
Matthew 14: 22-33 (page 820 in our pew Bibles) The authority of God in Christ extends over all creation. Peter only shares in that authority while he keeps his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus

A favourite hymn of some in this church is a hymn called “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine”.
And you know that is I suggest one of the major differences between Christianity and all other religions.
In some Eastern religions who believe in reincarnation where you go and what you become are determined by how good or otherwise you have been.
In Islam your fate is in the hands of a distant, unknowable deity and while Allah can do as he pleases salvation is again believed to be determined by how good you have been.
In both cases, salvation, your future, is determined by “works” as the Bible puts it.
To put it in prosaic terms, whether you go to heaven or not is determined by what you do here on earth but nothing is guaranteed because we all know how far we can stray from the straight and narrow..
People often wonder why Christianity is called “Good news” which is what the word “Gospel” means.
It means you have absolute assurance of entry to the kingdom of God not by what you have done or not done but by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Faith in God’s grace (his free and unmerited love) demonstrated on the cross means that we believe that anything that stood in the way of our entry to heaven or the Kingdom of God was cleared away and forgiven, clearing the way for us to be granted that holy status as a child of God.
And in simply stating that to you all this morning I have fulfilled Paul’s call spelled out in his letter today. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (v. 15)
You have that blessed assurance that your soul is clean and you are a child of God when we put our faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross. Our sins are forgiven and we have access to the kingdom through faith in God’s Love.
Making that claim loud and clear is what Paul is concerned with.
But how is that claim confirmed in our hearts. How does God communicate with us. How does He speak?
On one level he can speak through monumental acts like the parting of the Red Sea in Exodus or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, but as  is recounted in the first letter of Kings today He spoke to Elijah not through a mighty wind or an earthquake but in a “still small voice, in the translation we use it is referred to as “a low whisper” or in some others in “a thin silence” which is very mysterious and evocative.
It conjures up notions of having your conscience pricked, or a strange feeling in your gut, being mysteriously drawn in one direction or another.
You can be struck by a particular phrase or sentence of scripture even though you may have heard it scores of times before.
Sometimes words can appear in your mind or even “heard”. I have only one experience of this personally. My first wife, who died, was a very down to earth woman not given to flights of fancy but when I was trying to decide whether to go forward into public ministry in the church she was sitting on our front doorstep having a cigarette contemplating, and came in and said that she had heard words spoken to her in a soft whisper and the words were
“Feed my sheep”
Words which have propelled me in my ministry ever since.
God speaks to us also through other people (and they don’t have to be Christians or aware that God has acted through them) and through situations – both good and bad.
God speaks through Jesus’ teaching and occasions in the Bible. One such is the walking on the water incident which on one level is a description of God’s transcendent power over the created order – but the most important part of that story is not concerned with Jesus directly at all but with Peter.
Peter can walk on the water as well – that is the point – but only all the while that he keeps his eyes firmly fixed on Jesus. As soon as he is distracted, his gaze wavers, and he starts to sink and Jesus has to haul him out.
And there lies the message on this passage. Not a spectacular stunt to amaze your friends, but in all things and in all situations keep your eyes fixed on Jesus because he transcends all situations and all calamities. 
If we don’t, when storms come, and they WILL come, we can metaphorically sink and be overcome by the storms of life. But keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, and the good news he brings and let that be the dominant voice in our predicaments we can transcend all situations. We can walk on water.
God will have spoken to you all in one way or another in your life, otherwise I doubt many of you would be here today. What we need is to pray that our antennae are turned on and sharpened so we can hear what is so often a still small voice.
Let us pray.
Father you come to us and speak to us in many and various ways. Help us first of all to be expecting you to do so and secondly to be able to discern your voice amongst the clamour and noise in this world.

Amen. 

Monday, 7 August 2017

We were eyewitnesses of his majesty

The Transfiguration.
Daniel 7: 9-10, 13-14 (page 744 in our pew Bibles). This Apocalyptic book here describes God the Father (the ancient of days) and one like a "son of man" (human being) who will be given an everlasting indestructible kingdom. Christians believe this one "like the son of man" is Jesus Christ and  in fact "Son of man" was Jesus' favourite way of referring to himself, relating back to the prophet Daniel.  
2 Peter 1:16-19 (page 1018 in our pew Bibles) Saint Peter confirms that he bore witness to the event on the "Holy mountain" and doesn't follow "cleverly devised myths". 
Luke 9: 28-36 (page 867 in our pew Bibles) A vision or miracle that Jesus doesn't perform but this happens to Jesus. In this Epiphany the reality of Jesus' being is revealed. He is the son of man to whom all dominion is given by God the Father.

Just after Christmas we have the season called Epiphany – a series of revelations of just who this person Jesus actually is and we normally major on the Baptism of Jesus or the visit of the Magi, but here today we have the most striking revelation of who Jesus is in the episode called the Transfiguration.

On a mountain called Holy by Peter – Made holy by what he saw happen there – Jesus was transfigured before his very eyes.

He witnessed Jesus’ face altered and his clothes became a dazzling white, and alongside him stood Elijah and Moses – representing the law and the prophets – the entire Jewish religion – consulting with Jesus and talking about what he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem – a willing sacrifice for the sins of the whole world to bring all things back to God which the created order had abandoned.

Years later, referring to that incident, Peter writes that he doesn’t follow any cleverly devised myths about Jesus – he was an eyewitness to what actually happened on that Mountain.

Further to what I’ve already described on that Holy Mountain, God Himself spoke out of a cloud and repeated the words God spoke at Jesus’ baptism “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”.

God almighty, the ancient of days, Jesus’ Father, tells us exactly who Jesus is and why we should listen to him.
Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one, the one prophesied in Daniel, the one like a son of man in whom all dominion is to be vested., who is given an everlasting kingdom that will never die and cannot be destroyed.

Jesus’ worth, his gravity and greatness, which in the Bible is called his GLORY was on that Holy Mountain revealed.

The significance of this event cannot be exaggerated.

That Jesus professed the self-awareness that this was his identity and mission is made clear in that Jesus’ favourite way of referring to himself is the “Son of man” – not a chance phrase, but a direct reference to the prophesy in Daniel that speaks of the one like a son of man that God gives this dominion.

Jesus knew he was the son of man who through the Father’s words is also son of God who would accomplish all things for God.

What is the significance for all of this for us?

With apologies to those for whom the significance is obvious I will spell it out. 

Jesus is not just a great moral teacher, or a great religious leader amongst many others, as the liberal relativists would have us believe,

The gospel is that Jesus is the end of all religion and is God incarnate. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself” as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:19.

In case it has escaped your attention, every single one of us is a part of the world, the entire created order, so Jesus has ultimate significance for every single one of us!

All authority has been given to Jesus, so our relationship with Him really matters. Our past present and future is bound up with who Jesus is, and everyone really knowing who Jesus is and what he has done for them.

The whole of the Hebrew scriptures are basically a record of God’s promises made to mankind that we will be eventually redeemed, when all things will be put right, in a future where there shall be no more pain, sorrow or death. In a glorious future where Heaven and earth are swept away and heaven and earth become one and life goes on for ever where each chapter of life is more glorious that the last.

A future beyond our comprehension, but a future that we can glimpse from time to time through religious experiences made possible by the Holy Spirit.

In Jesus those promises are all fulfilled.

As Peter said this morning we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which we will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, and the morning star rises in our hearts, for the prophesy written by Daniel did not come from his own heart but was put there by the holy Spirit of God.

This truth was realised on that Holy Mountain. As Thomas came to realise after the resurrection we can say with him. “My Lord and my God”.




  

Monday, 17 July 2017

I'm saved!

Isaiah 55: 10-13 (page 615 in our pew Bibles) God's living and active word never returns without watering the earth. So it was with the prophets and so it was ultimately in Jesus Christ.
Romans 8: 1-11(page 944 in our pew Bibles) A great example of how the Trinity functions in the economy of salvation. If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, dwells in you, you have passed from death to life also!
Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23 (page 818 in our pew Bibles). The parable of the sower told and then explained. Unusual in its allegorical form; in the mouth of Jesus it may well be a parable about an incompetent farmer who nevertheless reaps a bumper crop prompting the question "Do you begrudge the unmerited, generosity of God? 

“There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. That is possibly one of the best known things that Paul ever wrote.

It is firmly based on the premise that there is a final judgement of course (not something we like to talk about much!), but at this final Judgement, those of us who have put their faith in God’s saving Grace  have nothing to fear because all our sins are forgiven in Christ. His sacrifice in our place is sufficient and once and for all.

When Paul writes about living according to the flesh or according to the Spirit, he is contrasting two different ways of living your life – one way under the power of sin and another way that is according to and under the influence of, the Holy Spirit.

And our salvation, our freedom in Christ – that is freedom from the fear of death and raised to life involves the whole of God – the whole Trinity is involved.

It is the Spirit of God the Father who raised Jesus from the dead so if that same Spirit – the Spirit of resurrection – lives in you, you too have been raised to eternal life.

This is the gospel – the Good news of Jesus Christ. And this knowledge transforms our life and the way we live it now. How can it not? It is so earth shattering.

But While Christ’s sacrifice is available to all people, not everyone can accept it in the same way and Jesus told us a parable that explains this to us.

This gospel, this word of the Kingdom, can meet four different states of humanity.

The first state is that the gospel can just not be understood – this is the seed sown on the path.

The message for us here surely, is that as ministers of the gospel, and we are all ministers of the gospel, is that the word must be expressed and presented in as clear a way as possible and I pray for the ability to do that and not wrap things up or obscure them in archaic language and ritual.

The second state of humanity the word reaches is the person who seems to understand and accept the seed with joy but actually it has no root – it is a superficial faith. For them the first sign of either trouble or persecution comes and their faith disappears very quickly.

This is surely a message to us to develop and deepen our faith and is the reason that Alpha and Discipleship explored were designed – to deepen discipleship, knowledge and experience to guard against that happening.

The third state of humanity is the one where God’s word is accepted but the cares and worries of life and Jesus states “the deceitfulness of riches” choke the gospel out of us.

This one is much harder to address,  and it affects a lot of us from time to time. We have to learn to place our trust in God and learn not to place our trust in material or financial comfort. We must raise our consciousness to place more trust in God rather than worldly success. Money cannot buy us salvation.
Salvation is priceless and is offered Free of charge and can only be appropriated by faith.
Our money is useless cannot buy us anything in the Kingdom of God.

Those who receive the word with joy, who hears and understands it are the ones in whom the word will dwell and bear so much fruit.

So the message from Jesus this morning is be clear in our presentation of the gospel.
To know what that gospel entails at a deeper level we must learn more and go deeper, and as a result of that we must raise our consciousness to learn to trust God more and don’t put our trust in money or material things.

If we build our church on these principles we are being faithful to God as a person and corporately as a church.  We become a Christ centred, Bible based church that seeks to make disciples of Christ and faithfully preach the gospel. 




Monday, 10 July 2017

Jesus will give you rest!

Zechariah 9: 9-12 (page 797 in our pew Bibles) A prophesy of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem which symbolically challenged all the power structures of both his and our day.
Romans 7:15-25 (page 943 in our pew Bibles) The spiritual war I preached about last week rages within Paul also. The power of sin can corrupt anything, even someone with the noblest and truest of intentions so makes Paul's assertion in Romans 8:1 of the utmost importance to Christians. "There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus".
Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30 (page 816 in our pew Bibles) John is dismissed as a crazy ascetic and Jesus as a self-indulgent libertine by the critics who are compared to children squabbling in the playground by Jesus. But the wisdom of Jesus is recognised by people with other child-like qualities - sincerity and honesty - rather than the too clever by half scribes and Pharisees. 

The backdrop for the two New Testament pieces this morning is one of the best known prophesies in the Old Testament because it is quoted as being the prophetic backdrop to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.
So why is it given here?

Well for one thing, the backdrop to all our own spiritual stories as Christians is the nature and character of Jesus himself and here he is presented as being eternally just and having salvation, and humility, and is a bringer of peace – not just peace between nations but that peace which reigns in our hearts also.

It is the nature, being and purpose of Christ in whom Paul invests his whole theology that says in Romans 8:1 that “Now there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus”

Which is just as well because Paul admits here to the internal spiritual warfare going on in own body today.

He tells us that he doesn’t understand his own actions.
He says he doesn’t do the good he wants to do, but he keeps on doing what is evil.
He has the desire to do what is right but he lacks the ability to carry it out.

And don’t we all know just exactly what he means?

If only I could have all my good intentions written on my tombstone instead of what I had actually done – warts and all, It would read a lot better, but not just for me, for every single one of us.

Hidden within this morning’s readings is the fundamentally Christian way of understanding the human condition which is that we are all intrinsically flawed - sinners who need forgiveness.

Anyone who doesn’t believe that has no need of Christianity. If you think you have nothing that needs forgiving you’re wasting your time in a church, because fundamentally the cross offers you forgiveness of your sins and with your sins forgiven through Christ’s sacrifice, joyful union with God, so that reconciled with him, you now call him Father.

Possibly the biggest barrier to growth in the church in Western Europe is not atheism or secularism per se but that western cultural shift that underpins them. The belief that we are born perfect and unsullied and are just marred by our environment is the dominant worldview nowadays. Modern society tends to believe that if we could control environmental factors, we would all live perfectly moral lives in perfect peace.

But while the Christian view has fallen out of favour, the idea that good and evil cut through every human heart, just by dint of being human, one brief look at the state of the world is in itself enough to make our case that belief in the sinfulness of humanity and therefore our need of a redeemer is sound.

Our greatest evangelist St. Paul in a moment of clarity describes how morally corrupted he feels.

It is the power of sin in his life that makes him do such things. And It is the power of Christ that redeems him from this morass and sets him upon a hill.
It is the power of Christ that can reach into everyone’s soul and separate the wheat from the chaff in our own bodies.

And the gospel story today tells us that it is only those who come to Jesus as a child – open eyed, ready to receive in sincerity and truth – that can embrace this truth.

The wisdom of the worldly wise was no good then and it is no good now. The scribes and Pharisees didn’t get it. The cleverest people of their generation were mostly on the outside of the kingdom looking in. Shut out by their own cynicism, arrogance, and learning or their power and wealth.

We are invited to come to Jesus with open hearts and open hands, ready to receive all the gifts that Jesus has to give. That is the only way you can gain access to the Kingdom.

And in that kingdom, we do have a master, but one who stands alongside us also, with whom we can battle against the power of sin. It is that same Jesus who sits alongside us and leads us. Yes, we have a yoke – remember last week I said that Paul’s insight is that we are all a slave of something or someone – but his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

"Come to me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest."  






Monday, 3 July 2017

Fight the good fight

Jeremiah 28: 5-9 (page 655 in our pew Bibles) Prophets giving contradictory messages was as disturbing then as now. Jeremiah asserts that the genuineness of a prophet is determined by results, so only in hindsight. Personal gain or loss (of the prophet in question) is one set of criteria that any sensible person may apply. 
Romans 6: 12-23 (page 943 in our pew Bibles) Paul contends that human beings are always a slave to something - whether that be God or sin. But there are consequences. The wages of sin are death and God's free gift is eternal life.
Matthew 10: 40 - 42 (page 815 in our pew Bibles) Whoever receives the disciples will receive a reward. The nature of the reward is not revealed. Perhaps hospitality to God's messengers carries its own reward? Maybe the fellowship that follows is the reward? In any case the notion of reward tells us that the act of welcoming does not go unnoticed by God.

Paul’s writing can be tortuous and difficult to understand and today is no exception and requires some unpacking..
On a human level, what is the point of Christianity, do you think?
In Paul’s words It certainly means being set free from the power of sin, suffering and death.
In Paul’s thought “sin” is not so much something you do wrong, more a “power” that has the ability to enslave you to habits, addictions, behaviours that are contrary to God’s will, and negative thought patterns that lead us to deny the redemptive power of suffering and convince us of the finality of death. We become slaves of nihilism, and without hope.
And that can affect any and all of us from time to time. Particularly when members of the family are having a tough time, when life has been cruel to them, it is so easy to lose hope and faith, and Paul calls this the power of sin over our lives. He reminds us in another place that our true battle is not against flesh and blood but is a spiritual battle.
So salvation means giving us freedom. Freedom from all of that which denies our status as created in God’s image, freedom from that power which seeks to dominate our life and thinking. We are released into a state of mind that sees goodness, generosity, hope and eternal life with our creator as both a future hope and a present reality.
But feeling saved is not our everyday feeling. We have these feelings from time to time and we feel great, but sometimes the power of sin can get the better of us. This spiritual battle is a fierce one with no quarter given. That is when we have to learn that this freedom or salvation is not dependent on how we feel. Our feelings oscillate – we can feel great or lousy within the same hour but salvation is presented in the Bible as an objective fact. It is in the fact of salvation in which we are to have faith not in how we feel about it.
So we have freedom. We are free as an objective fact and yet Paul calls this freedom from the power of sin a particular form of slavery. We are “slaves of righteousness”.
This is a difficult point to digest.
Paul’s theology here is quite challenging because he maintains that a human being is always a slave to “something”. True unfettered freedom is an illusion. None of us lead a neutral life where all decisions and behaviour are taken purely out of logic. We are led to do things by things greater than ourselves.  We are products of our culture, class, upbringing, education and yes our religious beliefs.
How much free will we actually possess is an age old philosophical conundrum of course.
Paul would say that we have a little wriggle room as we appear to have the ability to choose who will be our master – we can choose who we believe and follow. God or the power of sin.
This is placed alongside a reading from the gospel which uses the example of a generosity of spirit and kindness, towards others less well off than us physically but can be extended to those less well off than us spiritually as well as a product of this salvation.
It entails reaching out to others and perhaps reaching out in kindness sometimes at personal cost, so done, not because we are wonderful in ourselves but because we are slaves of righteousness.
So, while giving someone a cup of cold water in its literal sense to someone less fortunate than ourself is one example, yet another would be being kind and generous, for example, to new people coming to church for the first time, instead of avoiding them. Ungraciousness is hardly a Christian response and shows a self-centredness, which may be perfectly natural but which is at odds with being a part of a Christian community.
What God wants is not a “natural” response but a “supernatural” response
But at the end of the day, as we heard in Jeremiah, being close to God and doing and prophesying his will has never been automatically popular. People prefer to hear what they want to hear and do what they’ve always done, no matter how much that might lead to death and decay.
Christianity is not an easy option. It requires sacrifice, it requires listening to God. Jesus says that we will be recognised as his followers by what we do - by the fruit we produce as a “slave of righteousness” rather than a “slave to sin.”

  

Monday, 19 June 2017

Hope springs eternal

Exodus 19:2-8 (page 60 in our pew Bibles) "You are a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" a verse describing the Jewish people and appropriated by Saint Peter (1 Peter 2:9) and re-applied to the church
Romans 5:1-8 (page 942 in our pew Bibles) Classic Saint Paul and a cornerstone of Protestant belief that it is through faith that we enter into God's Grace and reap the reward that is peace with God.
Matthew 9:35 - 10:8 (page 814 in our pew Bibles) The calling of the twelve disciples as His inner circle often thought to symbolise the twelve tribes of Israel. The phrase "The harvest is plentiful and the labourers few" is an inversion of the dire economic realities of 1st century Palestine.

The shock and deep horror of the fire at the tower block in West London is a sharp reminder of how terrible life events can be.
Lives ended in unimaginable pain – the fire making no distinction between men women or children – whole families killed – leaving those spared traumatised and in despair.

In such circumstances, any faith in God could seem hopelessly irrelevant and inadequate.
Sometimes it may seem so, but take God out of the equation, the situation won’t change – all we have removed from the situation is hope.

Hope for a better, glorious future where tragedy, suffering and death are no more, and the whole creation lives in a wonderful creative peace with God is such a vision that can comfort, sustain, and inspire a person to keep going even when things are dark.

But I would say that it is just at these times and in the face of such tragedy that faith in a loving God, who cares and holds us in his arms is needed more than ever lest hope is squeezed out of our lives and the light in our eyes get that much dimmer.

It was faith and hope, often shaky and uncertain, that eventually led the Jewish people through 40 years in the desolate wilderness to the promised land.

So many survivors of that fire are now going through their own period of desolation that may last just as long or more, but the hope of a new dawn at some point, where loved ones are raised and reunited has the ability to sustain on that sometimes long lonely trudge through life that would otherwise seem lonely, sad and directionless.

I attended my first humanist funeral on Friday and was taken by just how one dimensional it was. Stripped of the context of human life being loved and supported from a higher being, stripped of prayer and all liturgy, stripped of any hope of anything more, all that was left was the eulogy itself.

God tells the Jewish people in our Exodus passage today that despite what they are going through they are not abandoned or worthless, of no worth to anyone; they are instead a kingdom of priests and a holy nation – they have dignity and purpose – and God’s blessing leading them onwards towards their glorious future.

Through the troubles of the early church,which was small and persecuted,  Peter takes that phrase and applies it to the new Christian believers who were also feeling like they were trudging aimlessly in the wilderness to give them, and through his words us, hope. 

Hope meaning not a vague wish, as in “I hope it doesn’t rain later” but hope in its Biblical understanding as a certain expectation based on thousands of years of fulfilled promises, culminating in the sending of Jesus Christ to save us.

Proclaiming hope in times when all seems black is surely the message of the gospel. The message is contained within the central image of Jesus, an innocent man who came through unimaginable suffering and death of the cross to be raised by God to eternal life in paradise.Out of darkness there came light.

God knows and relates to the suffering in that Tower block because his own son was subject to the same fate in a different manner. He lost His only Son, who had only ever done good, yet was subjected to such ignominy.

We have no easy answers to suffering and death, and it would be wrong to say that we do, but we offer a God is certainly not aloof from death and suffering. We offer a God who in Jesus knew deep darkness but who is also a living hope.


Monday, 12 June 2017

The truth revealed.

Isaiah 40: 12-17, 27-31 (page 600 in our pew Bibles) The primal and overriding majesty and glory of God espoused in lovely poetic terms. 
2 Corinthians 13: 11-14 (page 971 in our pew Bibles) The very end of this letter that includes what we all know and say in many situations and services called "The Grace", obviously because of its Trinitarian nature.
Matthew 28: 16-20 (page 835 in our pew Bibles) The end of Matthew's gospel called "the great commission" because we are called to baptise in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Claire my daughter spent a great deal of her life in and around church and she often used to ask me "What's your sermon about this week Dad?"
It became a bit of a family in-joke that I would always say "God".
Well this week is cartainly about the being of God but it made me think about what it was about on another level and what this week is really all about is revelation!
As I wrote on my email- No-one wanting to start a new religion, especially a monotheistic one would have come up with the notion of the "Trinity" by choice. We have had the notion of the three fold nature of one God revealed to us.
Do I fully understand the Trinity? No, but God has revealed himself in this way so I accept it and offer the maxim of Anselm of Canterbury - Credo ut Intelligam - I believe so that I may understand.
The Fathers of the church had it revealed to them through scripture and the Spirit speaking through the church community after much argument. The notion of the Trinity did not come easily -  They discerned this spiritually.
In psalm 42 it says “Deep speaks to deep” and the deep of God’s nature and purpose spoke to the deep of the church’s consciousness and revealed to us in this way.
It was Anselm of Canterbury who noted that I don’t need to understand before I can believe – I believe in order that I might understand.
Through the Trinity we can look at Jesus, his character, action and service and know that this is what God is like. Jesus revealed him to us.
When we experience a movement of the Spirit in our lives, we know that Jesus is with us, animated by the same spirit that led Jesus.
The Trinity is therefore a very practical concept and not an obscure theological construct. In prayer we pray to God the Father – Jesus taught us to pray to “our” Father – the creator and sourceless source of all things.
We pray through Jesus Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father and intercedes for us, who knows our human faults and frailties so can represent us perfectly.
We pray in the mysterious power of the Holy Spirit, the active spirit of God who is our link between our soul, through Jesus to the Father.
In Paul’s words “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19) so we know that God’s will is redemptive and reconciling, and done our of his nature which s essentially loving. Love in the Bible is essentially “self sacrificial” rather than pink hearts and flowers.
Love is practical and down to earth – it achieves something.
Finally, Matthew’s gospel begins and ends with God’s presence and the means of that presence is Jesus who Matthew describes as Emmanuel or “God with us” and at the end of his gospel has Jesus tell us that He will be with us to the end of the age.
So Jesus is with us now, but how? He is here by his Spirit, which is sent by the Father which is also the spirit of Jesus.
What are we to do with this knowledge? We are to go to the nations and baptise people in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit says Matthew.
God above us, God beside us, and God within us. The God who is all in all.
The Holy Trinity is God revealed to us by Himself.