It’s that time of year again when an eclectic mix of B list celebrities head for the jungle. As I watch them cry, squeal and bitch their way through the experience, I remember when I broke my leg and had to spend a whole week in hospital when there was not much else to do but immerse myself in ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here’.
What was fascinating about my stay in Kingston Hospital was how quickly we established community on the orthopaedic ward that I was confined to. Similarly impeded was a woman with a broken hip, another had a fractured pelvis, one was being treated for a displaced shoulder and another lady suffered a shattered elbow. None of us had been snow-boarding or sky diving but had tripped over shoes, fallen running for a bus or slipped on the stairs. Having felt neglected for hours, one evening we took matters into our own hands and decided to make ourselves a cup of tea. What was fascinating is that it needed all of us and despite each of our deficiencies, together we were able to accomplish what alone would have been impossible. Never has a cuppa felt so rewarding and tasted so good!
For me this is a graphic illustration of the body that is the church as articulated by Paul in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. We are all broken yet have our part to play in creating the beautiful whole which is the bride of Christ awaiting her ultimate consummation at the end of time. And in this community we are a reflection of God Herself. Genesis 1 verse 26 says, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our own image, in our likeness…” Yes, at the heart of the godhead there is unity in diversity.
A brilliant artistic interpretation of this idea of the trinity – God who is 3 persons in one – Creator, Redeemer and Companion is contained in ‘The Shack’. The author William P Young explains why this potentially problematic doctrine is so crucial, “’If I were simply One God and only One Person, then you would find yourself in this Creation without something wonderful, essential even. And I would be utterly other than I am.’ ‘And we would be without….?’ Mack didn’t even know how to finish the question. ‘Love and relationship. All love and relationship is possible for you only because it already exists with Me, with God myself…unless I had an object to love – or, more accurately, a someone to love – if I did not have a such a relationship within myself, then I would not be capable of love at all?…The God who is – the I am who I am – cannot act apart from love (p.101-2).’”
So we too love and form community because we are made for it. We cannot help it. That does not mean it isn’t incredibly difficult and people won’t frustrate, annoy and hurt us. However, “three is the magic number, calling us out of individualism, insisting on relationship, I to you, We to another, Trinity seeding networks, Until all the cosmos joins in…” (from grace pocket liturgies p. 94) I know this to be true because I found it in the most unlikely of places, watching ‘I’m a Celebrity’ with a cup of tea made by an ensemble of the hindered and the lame, rejoicing in what was possible when we gave what we each had in service to one another.