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Hallo again to all.

In much, though not all of the world, today is Father's Day. It is also Trinity Sunday, when we celebrate the nature of the Trinity—a day on which many, many sermons succeed in flirting with some ancient Trinitarian heresy. Perhaps your parish recited the Athanasian Creed today. Likely not, as our modern sensibilities (and also our theology) balk at the idea that 'whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith' and that without such faith 'he shall perish everlastingly'. At the very least, we hold a different view of what it means to hold the faith. Certainly, Jesus had little patience for those who said the right words but did the wrong things, so perhaps the modern here is not off the mark.

During the sermon at our parish, which acknowledged the festal occasion of Father's Day but kept quite nicely to the liturgical occasion instead, our thoughts turned to what it meant for God to be father. In the Hebrew scriptures, the title highlights him as the creator of all things and the giver of the covenant to his chosen people. Jesus uses that same title for God in our own testament, thus giving it the imprimatur for our faith. Fresco of Basil of Caesarea

Quite rightly, in recent years Anglican liturgies have taken the time to remember not just Mary, but the many women who were part of the story of salvation—not just Abraham but Sarah, not just the God of our fathers but of our mothers, too. We have heard more than a few people comment on the imagery of Luke 13:34 in Jesus' lament over Jerusalem:

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!

The imagery is undoubtedly that of motherhood, with a hen gathering her brood. Clearly limiting the almighty to our conception of man and woman is presumption. We rightly push back against limiting God to the human understanding of the masculine and the patriarchal. His ways, as he says, are not our ways.

We also this week thought of another father, a church father, Basil of Caesarea, whose feast day—though now celebrated by much of Christendom on his death date in January—has traditionally been June 14 in the west. To us, this traditional date makes more sense near Trinity Sunday, since he was a staunch proponent of the Nicaean understanding of the Trinity. As we thought of a hen guarding her brood, we could not help but think that Basil, a lover of allegory, would not mind being associated with that same image. His ferocity in defending the faith against the Arian emperor Valens certainly had the same determination to protect something precious.

So, on this day when we celebrate a father who though a particular person is also of one substance with a certain son and spirit, we hope that you will remember that fathers can also be hens.

See you next week.

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16 June 2019

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