I think we can better understand God If we could put to one side for a moment all we know in human terms of our God as 3 persons in the one Trinity; the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (I assume we can refer to the Spirit as a person). Having done this, let us now refer to our God as, ‘A Divine Presence’.
The first words in Genesis, the first book in the Bible, explain how God created the world as we know it. We should note that at no point does it refer to God not already being in existence. In John’s Gospel he refers to ‘The Word’ as Jesus being present at the ‘beginning’ with God and that he was God. This does seem a bit confusing, is it no wonder we have scratched our heads trying to understand the Trinity.
In our human understanding we like to see how everything has a beginning. However, we seem to be able to better comprehend what eternity is about. We write songs about loving each other forever and ever. We discuss perpetuity and even have a symbol for infinity. But attempting to understand a God consisting of 3 persons as not having a beginning is difficult. Hence, God as a Divine Presence is easier seen as ‘Always was and always will be’.
The prophets of old predicted the coming of a Messiah (‘The anointed one’). The Jews were looking for a great King and leader and as a result they couldn’t believe Jesus was the answer so they ran him out of town.
So why did God decide on creating a human to be the saviour of the world? This was how we humans would better understand his role. He would be one of us and grow up among us. He would have a beginning, his birth, and an end, his death on the cross. We are created to live. Jesus was the only person ever created with the express purpose of dying.
During his life he would be seen as the son of Mary and Joseph, yet at the Transfiguration, God was heard to say that he was His Son with whom he was well pleased. The father image was then easier to accept.
Jesus also used this image in teaching us to pray the ‘Our Father’. He also referred to his ‘Father in Heaven’ on numerous occasions.
While Jesus was on earth he had to rely on God to answer his prayers and provide the miracles often thought to be of his own doing. He took time out to pray and the night before he died he begged God to save him from what he knew would be his fate.
The resurrection was the proof he was sent by God to redeem the world. His return to heaven brought him into ‘The Divine Presence’ and when he returned he was seen to be different by his apostles. Yet he ate a fish breakfast which he prepared for them and appeared in front of them in a locked room.
Before the Ascension he promised he would leave them with his Spirit to sustain and guide them. It was this same Spirit that fired them into action at Pentecost. Once again it is easier to see Jesus and the Spirit as part of ‘The Divine Presence’ rather than the second and third ‘person’ of the Trinity.
The prayer “Glory be to the Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be forever and ever. Amen” might be a bit easier to understand if it was worded: “Glory be to God, The Divine Presence in our world who always was and who always will be. Amen”
I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.
30 November 2016