Most of you will, no doubt, recognise this icon, ‘The Trinity’ written by Andrei Rublev (yes, icons are written, apparently). There are many people who’ve written profound things about this, I’m sure, which will be nothing like what I would say.
It is based on a story in Genesis where Abraham entertains three visitors whilst camped at Mamre. As the conversation with these ‘angels’ transpires around the meal table, it seems that Abraham begins to be addressing God directly. There is a whole load of symbolic stuff here, but when I look at it I see the community of God as Trinity, out of which flows salvation, mission, the church and every other thing. I also notice that there is space and an openness at the table for the onlooker. A generous invitation to come and partake.
I have this picture in a few places because I often need to be reminded of the Trinity’s invitation as uttered to Isaiah. ‘Who will go for us, whom shall we send?’ I’m reminded that it is at the very heart of the Trinity to send: the Father sent the Son, who sent the Spirit, and the Spirit now sends us in the Son’s name to glorify the Father.
On a recent visit to Northern Ireland, I was delayed at the airport and came across this little brass plaque which arrested my attention to the extent that I bought it. It is a depiction of St Brendan in is curragh (leather boat), with helmsmen urging on four oarsmen as they row heavenwards across a sea of crosses, and reminiscent of the time Brendan and friends just got in a boat and set sail for God, waiting for the Master of the Sea to take him where he should go for God. Seems foolish to most, but speaks to me of abandon to God’s purposes, to the ‘sentness’ of the church and the potential challenge it represents.
I want to continually be aware of my sentness, which is true it I’m physically going somewhere, or whether I’m settled in one location because sentness isn’t always about geography. I think it is possible, however, to be settled and to be static. The Celts used the word Peregrinati, meaning to travel or wander from place to place… in the same way that ‘turasaiche’ means wandered, pilgrim, vagrant or vagabond. For me, that is the idea that stops me engaging in the mission of God.
Sometimes God just sends me down the road to the office, sometime he sends me to the other side of the city for a key encounter that he has designed, sometimes I travel further, but I’m continually sent. This is the call, I believe, for us all.