Think of the smallest child you know. It might be one of your own, or a grandchild, a nephew, a niece or a neighbour’s child.
Almost inevitably, the clothes they wear are endearing.
We have a neo-natal knitting group in our Parish which meets at Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre on a Wednesday. You can find out more about them at the bottom of this reflection. They make some of the most wonderful, the most amazing small things which contribute to keeping delicate little ones alive and well. Their work is much appreciated by the hospitals they work for.
Little clothes suit tiny people! You and I need something a little bigger to wear. And during this time of crisis, I am finding that some of the things I normally wear are getting gradually tighter.
Nevertheless, if I was to ask you to put on a small child’s jumper, you’d look at me as though I was being daft. I guess you would probably tell me that you were too large, or that the jumper or cardigan was too small.
It is Trinity Sunday this weekend. It is the patronal festival for Holy Trinity Church, one of the five churches in our Parish of the Good Shepherd, Ashton-under-Lyne. This is often a Sunday when clergy struggle to help us understand what God is like. It is as though, if we try once again, we might just this year be able to explain the Trinity. We come up with a whole range of different images which are helpful to some extent but which never quite work. I guess we wind up proving something very important – that our minds are too small to comprehend fully what God is like!
We all do it. We often expect God to be able to fit into our human-sized minds. So, when we think about God we come up with all sorts of questions, like: How can God possibly be able to hear us all praying at once?
What we mean when we ask such questions, is that we know a human being could not do that, so it must be impossible for God as well.
Or perhaps we say something like – everything has to begin somewhere, everything has a beginning, so God too must have had a beginning!
It is so hard to understand God. So often, when we ask these kinds of questions, it is the same as holding out a child’s jumper; holding out our small human shape (or jumper) and expecting God to climb into it. And, of course, God does not fit, because God is so much bigger and deeper and wider and higher than any human being can comprehend.
God is so different. God is always going to be full of wonderful mystery for us. However much we learn about God, however clever we are, however much we think about God, we will always struggle to understand God. We will never be able to hold God’s nature in our minds and understand God, no more than a child’s sweater can hold someone like me.
So, does that mean that we cannot know God? Not at all! We are not at the moment able to make physical contact with other people outside our own household. But just imagine if we could walk across a room and shake hands with another person. Imagine talking with someone you don’t know, finding out things about them.
You might ask questions like these: How old are you? What do you do during the week? How many people are in your family? What is your favourite colour? What music do you like listening to?
We don’t need to completely understand someone before we can become friends. Indeed, being friends is partly about discovering new things about each other and about sharing together in discovering things around us.
Just because God is God and I am a human being – it does not mean that we cannot be friends. There are people in our church communities who talk with God everyday! Did you know that? It is called praying. And if you ask them, they might well tell you that God is the person that they love and trust best in their lives!
We’ve been given a lifetime to get to know God really well and to live as his friends. Sometimes we waste that time,at other times we realise that nothing else matters as much as knowing God and how much God loves us.
Sometimes we can’t be bothered to talk about God, or sometimes we let our behaviour suggest that God isn’t worth knowing, sometimes we are unkind of difficult or rude or selfish. But at other times we feel such love for God that we cannot wait to tell other people. And sometimes our loving behaviour speaks of God too.
God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is wonderful and all-knowing. God is the maker of the universe and of each one of us. God is the one who came as Jesus to die to love and save us. God is present in and with his people, living in us as the Holy Spirit. We cannot possibly expect to fully understand a God as amazing as that!
The fact that God is great and full of holy mystery should make us excited not frustrated. It should encourage us to get to know God more. But, ultimately, if I could get a hold on God, if I could fit God into my small mind then God wouldn’t be God.
I wonder how big a jumper we’d need for God to fit in it?
Neonatal Knitters are a community group who knit, crochet and sew items for the Neonatal units of Tameside, St Mary’s and Royal Oldham hospitals. We meet every Wednesday 10.30 – 1.00 at Holy Trinity Church and Community Centre. We are a very friendly bunch and welcome new members from our community. Unfortunately, we cannot include children in our group for safety reasons and we do not have the capacity to teach people to knit or crochet. For more information please drop into the group any week, check out our Facebook page (Neonatal Knitters) or email us on email@example.com.