Holy Week kicks off at Haywood Street next week, beginning with a traditional Good Friday service at 1pm on Wednesday in the sanctuary. Please note: the next two Wednesday services will be held at 1pm!
(THE HAYWOOD STREET OFFICES WILL BE CLOSED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 11)
Art Room Companions Needed! – The I Am Home Art Project is in need of weekly companions.Click here to learn more about the project and how you can get involved!
To provide a meal for our friends and staff in Respite, sign up on the Meal Train. With current COVID rates as low as they are, companions are now invited to eat dinner in Respite with residents. Additionally, Respite is continuously seeking companions to be in Respite and spend time with our friends. If you are interested, please let me know!
Face Masks at Haywood Street – Masks are currently optional for all friends, companions and staff.We will continue monitoring cases in our area and if they were to rise again, we would reevaluate and shift if necessary. Please know you can do whatever you are comfortable with and know we are thankful for your flexibility throughout this process.
Next Companion Orientation this Monday May 2nd at 5:00pm in the sanctuary – invite your friends to become companions at Haywood Street! Register here: https://fb.me/e/1B5vIrdlG
A Reflection from Pastor Seth:
There is great potential both for harm and for healing when starting a sentence with the two words, “God is…” What we choose to say after these words — the labels and attributions we place upon God — have the power to tear down or to build up, to deny or to affirm, to oppress or to liberate, to exclude or to invite. The way we think and talk about and picture God matters; the way we choose to finish the sentence, “God is…”, matters. In 1 John 4, the author chooses to finish this sentence with the word “love.” There is no “-ing” at the end of it. Rather, for 1 John, God is love itself – painting a picture of the Divine that the iconographer, Andrei Rublev, captures profoundly in a scene inspired by a story from the Hebrew Scriptures.
Andrei Rublev was a Russian painter and iconographer who lived in the 14th and 15th century. He is famous for many works but amongst his most popular is a icon depicting three figures sitting around a table with inviting gazes set upon the viewer and what seems to be an empty place setting amongst them. This icon, entitled, The Trinity, or, The Old Testament Trinity, artistically depicts a particular scene found in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 18, the Lord appears to Abraham in the form of three people loitering under the tree of Mamre in the shadow of Mount Moriah. Abraham approaches and converses with them, and he and Sarah offer them food, drink, and hospitality before they deliver the message that Sarah will be pregnant.
This is a very peculiar passage in the Hebrew Scriptures and one that is referred to by many Christians centuries later for affirmation of Trinitarian theology — for it seems to present these visiting entities as an embodiment of God in threeness. After all, it says, “The Lord appeared to Abraham,” and what Abraham sees is “three men standing nearby.” Andrei Rublev took this interpretation and ran with it, depicting in the original version these three figures seated at a table under the shade of the oak of Mamre and Mount Moriah — calling this presentation of hospitality and hope, “The Trinity.”
This notion of the Trinity is a mysterious, complicated, seemingly paradoxical part of Christian theology. After all, how can God be both One and Three? It’s an elusive concept marked by centuries of ongoing debate. However, we do not have to fully understand its particulars in order to grasp its significance — for what the Trinity teaches us is that the very heart of God’s own being is relationship itself, a perfect and eternal love shared between three persons as one God. By connecting this scene with The Trinity, God three in one, Andrei Rublev paints a picture of God as people sitting around a table enjoying the refreshment of food, drink, and fellowship. It’s a profound sentiment, really, seemingly equating the nature of God with the love between companions at a table — companions who are looking at the viewer with an invitation to share in their company in the empty seat between them.
When gazing at this icon, you’ll notice that there is a scribbled outline of a small rectangle located in the empty space on the front of the table. Some scholars suggest that, in its original version, this rectangle contained a mirror which faced the onlooker with the intention that whoever viewed this icon would see their own image reflected back to them in the empty place setting. In other words, whoever gazed upon this embodied Trinity would find the gaze of the Divine lovingly looking back at them, saying: come, sit, be in the midst of this eternal love — a love that abides, a love that cast out all fears, a love that, according to 1 John, correlates loving God with loving others and loving others with loving God. It is a love that says: as I have invited and hold you in love’s midst, so you invite all to see their own reflection at the table.
So friends, as we approach Holy Week, may we lead with invitation and embrace, gazing upon the reflection of ourselves and all at the table of a God who is love — ever inviting and calling us to relationship as the embodiment of relationship itself.