Tag: holy spirit

The dance of love

The dance of love

With Trinity Sunday just past, I came across a word which I first saw and learnt about in my second year of university – Perichoresis. It’s a rather long word but I like it and if you don’t know what it means at the moment, I hope that by the end of this blog post, you will not only understand the definition but also grow to like the word and what it stands for.

My favourite definition of the word comes from Jonathan Marlowe. It’s long but well worth reading:

‘The theologians in the early church tried to describe this wonderful reality that we call Trinity. If any of you have ever been to a Greek wedding, you may have seen their distinctive way of dancing . . . It’s called perichoresis. There are not two dancers, but at least three. They start to go in circles, weaving in and out in this very beautiful pattern of motion. They start to go faster and faster and faster, all the while staying in perfect rhythm and in sync with each other. Eventually, they are dancing so quickly (yet so effortlessly) that as you look at them, it just becomes a blur. Their individual identities are part of a larger dance. The early church fathers and mothers looked at that dance (perichoresis) and said, “That’s what the Trinity is like.” It’s a harmonious set of relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving. This relationship is called love, and it’s what the Trinity is all about. The perichoresis is the dance of love.’

The dance of love. How beautiful a vision that creates inside my mind. The Bishop of Huntingdon, Dr. Thomson, spent a lot of his life working with people with disabilities and he was quoted in the ChurchTimes in August 2018 ( https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2018/17-august/features/features/once-we-connect-on-to-something-that-s-it ) saying of the connection between the Church and perichoresis, “It’s the dance of the Trinity, in which each person of the Trinity is going round the other one, so that the actual DNA of God is always to be in community. It’s a lovely model of the Church. I know we have a history of viewing people with differences in a very negative way, and feeling threatened by them. It’s good for us to be paving the way for building a God-shaped community here.”

The shape of the Trinity, the group dancing together, in time and to the same beat, yet with different styles, shapes and appearances, is so relevant and applicable to the Church. We also should be dancing together, completely in unity, but different, yet not being held back by those differences but instead enabling one another to use those differences to improve the dance and not judging others because their dance style is different to our own.

So as we reflect on Trinity Sunday, and the power of each element, unique yet also working as one Triune God, let us not forget how this metaphor is applicable to our own lives and that of the Church as a whole. May we work with one another, including those who are different to ourselves in mind, body or spirit, to move as one in the dance of love.

How is the Pentecost relevant to the online Church?

How is the Pentecost relevant to the online Church?

Most of you will be aware that it was Pentecost Sunday at the weekend just gone (9th June). Unfortunately, I was too unwell to stay at church for the service but having grown up in the Church, I am very familiar with the passage in Acts in which the Pentecost story is told. For those who are less aware, here is a brief reminder of what happened after the arrival of the Holy Spirit…

Acts 2:5-12:
There were some religious Jews staying in Jerusalem who were from every country in the world. When they heard this noise, a crowd came together. They were all surprised, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were completely amazed at this. They said, “Look! Aren’t all these people that we hear speaking from Galilee? Then how is it possible that we each hear them in our own languages?  We are from different places: Parthia, Media, Elam, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10 Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, the areas of Libya near Cyrene, Rome 11 (both Jews and those who had become Jews), Crete, and Arabia. But we hear them telling in our own languages about the great things God has done!” 12 They were all amazed and confused, asking each other, “What does this mean?”

Pentecost has been described by many as ‘the day of the Church’s birth’ as it was the first recorded large gathering of people coming together to recognise and worship the Triune God. At the start of the day, the disciples were waiting expectedly as Jesus had told them rather than being separated by their sorrow and fear for the future. They gathered, they prayed and they waited. This is the first lesson for us as a community. Community is encouraged and desired by God and praying together, worshipping together and supporting one another too.

Then the Holy Spirit rushed through the area the people were in and filled them all, not discriminating against colour, race background or location, and they all started talking different languages so as the people around them could hear and understand the message the Spirit placed on them.

In her blog post, Wendy Dorsey wrote, ‘This is an accessible divinity, one that takes the shape of each unique individual. Then they began to “speak in other tongues” so that people from every corner of the known world could understand in their own dialect or language.’ This is arguably not only the first Church, but the first version of an equal and accessible church. Equal because the Holy Spirit fell on all, not just the leaders or those who were long term followers of Jesus, and accessible because EVERYONE understood what was being said by those who were sharing what the Holy Spirit put on their hearts because they were also given differing languages so EVERYONE can understand what is being said.

We are blessed today that we don’t have to wait for a powerful wind to blow through the Church for those who struggle to interact with Church as it is. Instead, we can build ramps and accessible toilets, have active hearing loop systems and captions on songs and sign language used throughout the talk/ sermon.

The Holy Spirit didn’t arrive on Pentecost. It was already there but it made a new, powerful appearance on this day to carry out the action that God had planned for it – to spread the word of God and bring the Church to fruition. The Holy Spirit is still around and with us and in us, but we can still have more of it if we ask for it and if we do, more powerful things can and will take place in the Church and in the world.

Come Holy Spirit. Come anew on us and bring your Church to the place you want us to go and to be the people you would have us be. Help those in power to recognise the problems within the Church and help us to take up positions of change to make the Church equal and accessible once more. Amen.

Looking to God for Unity

Looking to God for Unity

Last week, I wrote a blog post about living confidently in the minority as a young woman with disabilities. I wrote that post in the days prior to attending Gather Summit, an event held to bring together Christian unity leaders, which I had been invited to attend but felt unsure about doing so due to being ‘different’. You can read that post here.

However, as it turns out, I had no need to worry. Not only was I not the only different person in the room (some were black, some white, some tall, some short, some young, some old, some with Northern accents and others with Southern, but all who I came into contact with immediately accepted me and was intrigued about why I was there and what my unity project was (until I was invited to Gather Summit, I had never considered YouBelong to be one but when I think about it, that is EXACTLY what it is!

Over the 2 days, we listened to people who were ahead of us in the field, some who spoke about the joys of running a unity movement and some who explained some of the challenges we are likely to face. Some were from charities and organisations who support unity movements and there were others who were speaking from experience of starting a unity movement whether that be a prayer group, social action group or anything in between. It was all very interesting and I took a lot of notes but one thing, a short phrase, stood out to me over anything else, and it came out of a bible study – ‘God is diversity in complete unity’.

My first thought was yes, I know that. God is a triune God, 3 in 1, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but when I put it into the context of a unity movement and in particular, YouBelong, I realised that just as God is diverse yet united, so are we. We come from different backgrounds, traditions and styles. We live all across the nation, are different ages and races and abilities but as the Church we SHOULD BE united. Should be is quite a way off of WE ARE but we are also working on it, one tiny step at a time, getting a little bit closer to a united front day after day thanks to all the work being done by individuals and groups behind the scenes.

Jesus actually prayed for the Church to be united as one. Ultimately, it is not down to us, but to the work of the Spirit but we are given the chance to be a part of that and be caught up in the eternal purpose of God – to build His kingdom.

Unity is not easy though as I am sure you know! There are spiritual forces battling against because the devil doesn’t want God’s kingdom to come to completion, so how can we fight against them? Pray. Prayer is the answer in challenging times but if you pray for unity, do not be surprised when God’s blessings and power work in that situation and create unity in what seems to be an impossible situation or group to unite. God promises to answer our prayers and as God wants His kingdom to come to fruition, He will listen and work when He ask Him to.

Unity brings blessings and transformation and it is through unity that others will see God’s glory and recognise God’s power and authority over the world. So when you find yourself struggling to work with others;

  1. recognise the evil in the situation
  2. pray expectantly to God for unity in the situation
  3. be ready to tell those who experience the change about God’s part in the change as they will not be able to miss it!