Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Does the Trinity and Rublevs Icon prioritise worship over mission?
Does Rublev’s Icon encourage a church gathered in worship, rather than a church scattered in mission?
Such is my question as I prepare to speak on mission, including leading worship, amongst leaders of the Uniting churches of the South East on Saturday. It is the only speaking engagement I’m doing in the 3 months of sabbatical. I had said yes before the sabbatical option came up, so I felt it was a commitment I had to honour.
In preparation, I’m aware that the Sunday coming is Trinity Sunday. So the obvious place to go is to Trinity and mission. Here’s what I wrote in 2004.
At the heart of the Trinity is three persons – Father, Son and Spirit – in the giving of love. Love is shared between persons, in an unlimited, ever-spiraling flow of love. The church fathers used to call this perichoresis – the divine dance of love. It is a beautiful metaphor; fluid, whole-bodied, dynamic.
What makes this missional is that this dynamic, fluid, flowing love is shared with the world, in creation, in Christ, and in the activity of the Spirit. This flow of love refuses to remain self-centred.
When God breathes breath into humanity, created in the image of God, we see the relational love of the Trinity shared. Love is never self-indulgent. In Christ, the relational love of the Trinity is shared. The sharing is so radical, so complete, so life-giving, that one person of the Trinity will die for the Other. The affirmation that the Spirit is in our world reminds us that love is always calling us, always inviting us out of our circles, out of our understandings of community, out of our walls and set practices. In this sense the Trinity is missional,
Further, the Trinity offers us unity and diversity, one love shared between three distinct persons. This also guides our mission. The missional church will be an expression of the shared love of God. Equally the missional church will be locally distinctive, a unique, grounded expression of the God-head.
Thus talk about church and mission needs to be grounded in our understandings of God as Trinity. A “missional church” is not new, but a recovering of very ancient understandings, in which we live, we create, we emerge, as an outflow of the shared love of God. We seek to express fluid, whole-boided, dynamic love. We honour the unity with other expressions of church, we applaud diversity, we celebrate uniquely grounded differences.
I’m still happy with that, some 7 years on. But how to express such concepts – intellectual and theological in worship?
One option could be to invite them to draw in the beautiful sandy beaches around Robe, like here. Another could be to adapt the Rublevs Icon children’s talk, which I did with such positive feedback when I preached last year at Brighton Uniting on Trinity Sunday.
But it raises the question with which I began: Won’t contemplation of the icon simply leave me sitting at the table with Jesus? Doesn’t it encourage a church gathered in worship, rather than a church scattered in mission?
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.