Week of Sunday May 30: Trinity Sunday
Gospel for Trinity Sunday: John 16:12-15
12 ‘I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
The Farmer's Trinity
For Dad and Des, and Uncle Ross.
The minister began the bible study telling us one of her colleagues asked during the week, “What were they smoking when they dreamed that up?” I thought this was a good question. I read the gospel reading from the old Good News I've got in the tractor cab while I was putting crop in this afternoon, and I seriously wondered whether to spend a few more hours seeding last night, instead of coming into bible study. The reading promised to be as boring as one of those sermons that are only good for a Sunday snooze.
She reckoned that the Doctrine of the Trinity had been a matter of life and death, even though arguments about “persons” and “substance” all seem pretty remote now. Probably a lot of people didn't get the fine detail even then; just took one side or the other based on other issues that didn't have much to do with understanding the theology. I get that; across the range they all barrack for the Crows just because a local kid plays for them.
And the Trinity had kind of been hurried into shape to suit the Emperor Constantine, who wanted to use the church as a tool to politically unify the Empire. In fact another Emperor, Theodosius, basically stopped the debate and told them all what the answer was going to be. Politics!
I asked if Trinity actually had any practical application for me and Rosie. I've got 800 acres of wheat to put in, and I'm worried about fuel prices. And if it will keep raining. Rosie looked like she could kick me, but Trenski reckoned it was a fair question. She said maybe I chould concentrate on a Practical Trinity based on what was in the John reading.
One thing in there is that “the spirit will guide you into all the truth.” Maybe Jesus knew something about sheep and fishing, but he sure didn't know about tractors and global warming. John, or whoever wrote the gospel, understood his church was facing different issues to what Jesus faced. Like we face different issues today.
If I've got it right, the chapters before the crucifixion in John, were written as a farewell from Jesus for the people who would follow. John is using them as a kind of Testament of his key ideas, and we have to apply them to today.
So the first thing is that even though Jesus is not here in the flesh, we can be confident that we can figure out what he would do in our situation. That's the “guide you into all truth” bit. But Trenski says you can't have people dreaming up stuff willy nilly, and saying it's the Spirit's will. She got us to read 1 John 4.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
You can see how even then, the church was having to work out what was genuinely of God, and what was not. That idiot Leo Hills, up at Ingleton, is a prime example. He's started up a new church, and they reckon they're the only ones who are right. My cousin Gareth, and all the family, have joined up- left the Uniting Church because it's too liberal.
He was talking to me the other week, trying to get me and Rosie to come up and join them. Reckons we're all off the straight and narrow with a woman minister... and because Trenski's not married, that makes it worse apparently. I couldn't put my finger on what got me so shitty with him, until Rosie said that if that's what his church is like, then it doesn't match up with what Jesus is like.
And that's the point. I mean Trenski's awfully young, and a woman, but she's good. She knows her bible. Even old Herb Norman reckons she's ok, after he saw her climbing around on the church roof, when we put the Easter banner up! She's a good person, and the way Gareth was talking about her is right off. it doesn't measure up to the Jesus standard.
So the Trinity thing is like a balance for how you work out where God is calling you. If it doesn't match up with what Jesus was like, you're out of balance.
And old Herbie, he just wants to talk about what it says in the Old Testament. But John is saying Jesus is God, you know. You can't just have the Old Testament God. Actually, I think Jesus kind of updates the Old Testament ideas about God in a few places.
It says somewhere “if you have seen me you have seen the father,” but even in the reading this Sunday you see the balance. Jesus, the Spirit and the Father are all linked together like one of those Celtic knot things. You can't split one off with out getting an unbalanced faith. They're close like a family.
For me, I have to remember it back the other way to what Herbie does. I reckon I live too much in the Jesus stories, and forget that this is God, somehow. He's not just a man. He's like the gateway into the divine, and we are dealing with deep reality not just day to day stuff. That's where Trinity gets me back in balance.
I like the idea of Jesus being God, even though I don't have a clue how that works! My dad taught me not to run the farm off the cheque book. You can't do cash accounting; you have to look to the big picture; where the markets are going, and what the future is hinting to us. If you just look at Jesus the man, it's like cheque book farming- you're forgetting the whole picture of God.
We had the super come down last week, and I got really depressed. A full B-double of superphosphate- three years ago I thought we'd finished with that stuff, and we'd always be using liquid fertiliser, but super's cheaper again- and that big load just got to me. I've got this artificial mountain out there, under a tarp.
When I was a kid super all used to come in bags, and we sowed wheat bags during the holidays. Harvest leave- what a lurk! I guess I'm nostalgic, but there was a certain innocence and honesty about it. You worked and sweated hard. Now it's all machines; young Tom next door's got a weight problem! And I don't reckon it's sustainable. It is getting drier, whatever Tony Abbot says.
I think my faith is that we'll find a way through, climate change or not. I'm sort of placing a bet that Jesus is not just some man to copy:- Grandpa told me Uncle Des said he never went to Ag Bureau meetings, he just copied what Dad did! My bet is that doing it the way Jesus would, is our best shot of getting through all this mess because Jesus shows us God. He reflects what is real about everything, and that means his way is the way to live. I mean that if we all sat down and made our farming decisions, or our government decisions, based on what Jesus would do then we'd be tapping into the deeper reality. I don't mean all the pious bullshit that Gareth goes on about, but what Jesus really would do if he was running the farm next door.
I'm a bit behind with the seeding, so I went back on the tractor when we came home from the bible study. I like it out there at night. I knocked off about half past one and just stood there in the dark. I love the smell of the furrows. It was a funny night. Warmer than you'd expect for this time of year. I'd been thinking about the bible study, but more about the super, and how this will all pan out, and while I was standing there I just knew it will be OK. Strange feeling. Nothing over the top, but just a kind of knowing that it will be OK- all manner of things will be well- Rosie's got that on a wall hanging in the kitchen.
The super and the climate change stuff just stopped worrying me. I mean, I still have to pay for it, and I think we're in for a rough ride money and climate wise, but the gloom just stopped. I guess that's Holy Spirit, God now and here.
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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