Trinity Sunday

Sorry Day

Today we are called to root ourselves in who God is, and who we are called to be.  Without getting into obscure God-language, this God is deeply in relationship and into relationship which is not meant to be “explained,” but entered into and enjoyed. Today’s feast invites us into a down-to-earth reflection on God and ourselves as disciples. Jesus reveals a God who is not only ‘for us’ but ‘with us’ and ‘within us.’ This should challenge any tendencies to individualism and isolation.

We are made in the image and likeness of a relational God who wants to be in relationship with us and us with one another. It is about enfleshing freedom and disrupting whatever obscures God’s love. Mary Frohlich in her new book The Heart at the Heart of the World writes, “Even though there is usually lip service to the biblical tradition that God originally created the world to be “good,” this does little to counteract the sense that Earth itself is, indeed, a heartless place. Yet persistent human traditions see things otherwise. Across numerous cultures and religions, many have proclaimed that, despite whatever cruel circumstances we may encounter, the core of creation is actually permeated by tenderness, compassion, and mutuality. To express this, the metaphor of the ‘heart’ appears over and over again in spiritual traditions.” She continues, ‘It is not hard to find counterevidence for the claim that love is at the heart of creation. The world often seems like a truly heartless place……… For the billions of poor all around the globe who depend on the rhythms of land, sky, and sea for survival, the combination of rampant resource over-exploitation plus climate change is increasingly making life almost impossibly difficult. Yet any effort on their part to migrate to wealthier areas of the world is met heartlessly with rejection or with consignment to camps where conditions often approximate torture. In the modern technologized world, heartlessness often appears in the form of the unrelenting grind of impersonal structures or, even worse, the intrusion of senseless violence. An epidemic of loneliness, isolation, distrust, and anxiety is raging through contemporary societies. The causes are surely complex, but one significant contributing element is that a literal form of heartlessness is still enshrined in predominant modern intellectual traditions.”


By taking flesh in Jesus, God’s love drew near to a broken-hearted and broken-hearted world, seeking to bring about liberation, justice, and kindness. As individuals and as church we must be agents of liberation, justice, restoration, dignity, hospitality, kindness, and peace where there is systemic racism, genocide, occupation and dispossession among First Peoples, homophobia and transphobia, a deepening climate crisis, xenophobia, white supremacy, and exploitative economic systems that weigh heavy upon the most marginalised people. As Paul reminds us that suffering can be the cost of our relationship with Christ as we have seen, and see, in people who given themselves for this vision of love. We must ask how often we risk be present with people who discouraged, dehumanised, and demonised. We witness a genocide before our eyes and say it might be genocide, or war crimes might be occurring. God’s presence is being obscured by our passivity, complicity and silence in systemic injustice. For people who think they are beyond love’s boundaries, by entering into solidarity with them we show them that love has no boundaries. Following Jesus means being vulnerable to the suffering that comes from active solidarity with people. It also means we open ourselves to the joy of recognising God’s boundless love for all.


In the gospel, Jesus sends the disciples (us) out to reveal God’s loving heart to the world which bears God’s image. Jesus commissions the disciples to engage in the urgent task of protecting human dignity and promoting human flourishing, of making the invisible visible. The church has often responded in heartless ways when encountering and colonising First Nations people, when encountering people of other faiths, women, and people of the Queer community. It can be silent in the face of violence.  God is attentively listening to the oppressed and so should we. This is especially the case we commemorate Sorry Day 2024 where Aboriginal people were removed from their families, culture and land by racist policies towards assimilation. The theme for 2024 is Now More Than Ever to remind us that the struggle for justice the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people must continue. This feast erodes the monarchical and patriarchal power of monotheism. It also contains a vision where God enters humanity and all creation to raise us up to the fullest.  And we are called to shared responsibility for one another.


We are reminded that God’s love draws near to the messy, painful, broken-hearted parts of our world, and concretely brings about liberation, justice, and kindness, in the lives of people throughout history. So, we cannot remain silent in the face of violence, oppression, and dehumanisation. We cannot continue to obscure the presence of Jesus – God made flesh - through our complicity in systemic injustice, including the sins of white supremacy and colonialism.


We live out our connection with the God, whenever we seek to heal, offer forgiveness, use our ‘gift of ears’ more than the ‘gift of tongues’; embrace those the unwanted or neglected, acknowledge the invisible, speak the truth fearlessly against injustice or violence and war, hypocrisy, greed and violence; or promote peace and right relationship with all creatures.


The varying presences of God in people tells us that this feast not just about God but about us. It is the feast of people caught up in the embrace of God - whose name is ‘Love’ - and reflect that to one another and seek to extend that embrace to ever wider circles of people. This is what people do when they seek to bring hope to people that they do not know, or will never see, and who certainly will never personally thank them.


This mission to gather people as one was to people without much preparation, and to people, as the gospel suggests, had their doubts, their questions, uncertainties and fears; people who from time to time wavered in, or even withdrew from, their commitment. Overriding this is the promise: ‘I am with you always’ which comes with the command, ‘Go, make disciples, preach, teach, baptize.’


It is our mission to build up in our corner of God’s world the inclusive patterns suggested by today’s feast, or the ‘Beloved Community’ espoused by Martin Luther King Jr.  It might seem an exaggeration but it is becomes concrete in our work of peace and justice, it becomes concrete when a nation can vote for equality for all its people, it touches on attempts to recognise and acknowledge the first people of this land as sisters and brothers and also their deep connection to their land, their ‘home’ and strive stand with anyone where the image of God is being smudged.


Though the church is called to be a sacrament of love, it has not reflected Jesus present among us. Christianity often looks nothing like Jesus. It has smudged God’s image in people and creation – preferring to condemn those Jesus loves rather than profess Jesus.  Christians have failed to authentically embody belief in God’s transforming love.


The church has often denounced people and ignored its own failures. It has been silent in the face of injustice leaving people disenfranchised, hurt and wounded such as women; people of colour; the Queer community; children who were abused; failure at times to call out war and war making. It often failed to act lovingly and justly when more concerned with its own image rather than what is true and right.


Let us act decisively with love in our world, in the particularities of our own contexts. Let us be those agents of liberation, justice, restoration, dignity, hospitality, kindness, and peace referred to earlier. Let us risk being present with the dehumanised. Let us extend God's work of creating a more humane society wherever we are and according to our abilities. Let us join in with passion for God’s dream for humanity and creation that burned in Jesus’ heart. Let us by our presence proclaim that, despite “whatever cruel circumstances we may encounter, the core of creation is actually permeated by tenderness, compassion, and mutuality.” At the heart of the universe is a loving presence and active in the world. If we listen deeply, we might hear love cry out for First Nation people, for people seeking security and shelter, for Queer people, and ultimately, that this love embraces us and restores our connection with one another and within creation.


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