I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 while I was driving to work one day the other week and I was intrigued to hear two back-to-back interviews which had been recorded the previous day, so the participants couldn’t have heard one another, and yet they both talked about being connected. One of the interviewees talked about it as a bad thing. The other talked about it as a good thing.
The first interview was about European banks. ‘The problem,’ said the financial expert who was being interviewed, ‘Is that all the banks are inter-connected. To use a nerdy expression,’ he went on, ‘the problem is their connectivity.’
What he meant was that if a Spanish bank goes bust that might not seem to be a problem for people in Britain. Spain’s quite a long way away and most of us don’t invest our money in Spanish banks or keep our savings in them. Even Santander in the UK is separate from its Spanish parent company. But, he went on, there is a hidden connection between our banks and the Spanish ones; French banks have lent lots of money to the Spanish banks, and British banks have lent lots of money to French banks, so if one bank goes bust they could all go bust. That’s why he thought the connectedness between banks was a worrying thing.
The second interviewee was an artist called Sir Howard Hodgkin. Sometimes, he said, he painted on his own in his studio. But, although he enjoyed it, that was quite lonely if you did it all the time. So he also liked making prints because he said lots of people have to be involved in making a print. You get to meet them and talk to them. You feel connected, he said. So for him being connected was a good thing. It was about working together, sharing, collaborating, finding companionship and friendship, or - to use a word from the Bible - fellowship with other people.
I thought what a coincidence it was that two people should be talking, one after another, about connectedness. And then, yesterday, someone said that the good thing about having a Queen is that she connects people from very different backgrounds, she is a living symbol of our connectedness.
The trouble with the Trinity is that it isn’t mentioned in the Bible. ‘God the creator and sustainer of the universe’ is mentioned, ‘God the Spirit present in all things’ is mentioned and Jesus being ‘God with the human race’ is mentioned, but the Bible never puts these three ways of talking about God together under the heading ‘The Trinity’. Instead it just takes for granted that these three distinct ideas are all part of what it means for God to be God as Christians understand him.
What we can say, however, is that the Trinity is about connectedness or inter-connectedness. The idea of God as creator and sustainer of our universe is inter-connected with the idea of God as Spirit, present in all things, and both of these ideas are inter-connected with the idea of God coming in a unique way to be with the human race in Jesus. So, for instance, Jesus can talk about the Spirit being sent by God and - when it comes to us - telling us what Jesus himself is thinking. All three - God, Spirit and Jesus - are totally inter-connected.
If we’re made in God’s likeness that means we need to be connected too - connected with God and Jesus by the Spirit, and connected with one another because of our shared love for God, our shared commitment to follow Jesus, and our shared access to the Spirit.
St Paul said that God’s Spirit helps us to know we are connected to God, like children connected to their father or mother, and that - together with Jesus - we will be given what God has promises. So we are all connected to one another, one happy family. The Queen may be a symbol of our connectedness as a nation, but only because her inspiration and example - like ours - comes from God.