Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
St. Matthew 28:16-20, NIV.
“How scared are you?…… If ever there was a week when we needed clear answers about how scared we ought to be this is it.” Andrew Marr.
We continue to live through a pandemic that is still wreaking havoc and it’s clear that fear as well as hope is widespread amongst us. For good reason, perhaps because they are self-isolating, vulnerable or scared, many folk are staying at home to avoid contact. Others are venturing out, meeting up with family or friends, going to work or school and attending the ongoing demonstrations following the death of George Floyd where social distancing broke down as heated emotions were expressed. Some are confused about what to do for the best or scared of a second spike, despite the official advice from government and medical officers as they listen to the daily Coronavirus updates. So, it may help to know that the disciples also had their doubts as they met with their leader to hear what he had to say to them. This was their last meeting and the final words of Jesus to his followers form the Great Commission, so life-changing then – and today.
However, St Matthew’s Gospel makes it clear that the disciples were not united – some worshipped Jesus but others still had doubts, despite his resurrection, the appearances since Easter Day and time spent with him. Perhaps exhaustion or confusion had also set in as they struggled to understand what was unfolding while their way of life changed so fundamentally. That may apply to us, too, as we come to terms with having to live so differently, and as we perhaps look back longingly to what was rather than face what now is.
But, as he commissioned them to go to all nations, Jesus gave the disciples clear guidance for their future – they were to make disciples, baptise them and teach them, in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This Trinitarian God is in relationship and in community, coming to a world and followers in dis-unity both then and today. Those first disciples found their doubts transformed by the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and their commission began to be fulfilled as the Gospel gradually spread the world over. Today, we have their example to follow and our own commission to fulfil as we face the challenge to decide for ourselves how to answer the questions being asked by and of each one of us. We’re already finding new ways of relating, of worshipping and of living with Covid-19, which will not easily be defeated. But, whatever our individual circumstances, we can still be heartened by the enduring Gospel message of resurrection hope and find its expression through relationship and in comm-unity, whether or not we can actually meet. This Trinity Sunday, who knows what a difference that could make, whatever lies ahead?
God of Glory:
The union of the Trinity models life in community,
held together by creative love and each honoured in perfect equality.
May we recognise that without honour for each human person our common life is diminished;
but where distinctiveness is valued, we reflect the beauty of your presence amongst us.
Amen. Canon Carol Wardman
With my prayers