Rublev’s Icon – The Three Visitors or Trinity

Have you looked at Rublev’s icon as an image of the Trinity? The picture of the table and an empty seat as an invitation to us to participate in God’s community? It also illustrates a non female / male image because it’s difficult to tell the difference. Interested to hear your thoughts.

I have looked at Andrei Rublev‘s icon as an image of the Trinity. It is one of my favorite icons and I had the opportunity to see the original at The State Tretyakov Gallery while on an immersion trip through Wesley Theological Seminary.

There is rich symbolism in this icon which depicts both the three visitors to Abraham (Genesis 18) and the Trinity. There is a great deal of thought and study about the possibilities of which person of the Trinity each of those in the icon represent. You can find an in depth exploration of the icon here or many other locations online.

I had not before considered the empty seat (where the viewer is) as an invitation to be in relationship with God, but now that you have brought it up I agree. In this icon gender is not clearly evident and I believe that we cannot characterize God as being either male or female. I believe that the Son, Jesus, is male. I believe that Father is an appropriate term for God and I also believe that mother would be an appropriate description for God. God exhibits characteristics of both genders in relating to all of creation.

This question came out of a young adult small group taster last Sunday morning in which I taught about the question “What is the Trinity?”

Thanks for the picture.

How to Give an Offering Invitation

I had a conversation yesterday evening with Ben about different ways of giving an offering invitation as a part of a worship service. I want to think first about what means to give financially to the church. I have ranked these in order of priority / importance.

Giving financially to a local community of faith is:

  1. An act of worship
  2. An act of discipleship
  3. Participating in God’s mission in and to the world
  4. A part of the life of the community (inclusive of the first three on this list)
  5. Supporting of the staff and structure of the local church.
  6. Supporting of the staff and structure of the denomination.

An invitation to offering should include:

  1. A focus on giving as an act of worship, discipleship and mission.
  2. No distinction for visitors and non-visitors. The most important reasons for giving are an opportunity for members and non-members, first time visitors or long time attenders.
  3. Logistic instructions on how one might be able to give.

How you understand the purpose of the offering will shape how it happens. I have experienced worship in which financial gifts are received in plates that are passed among the congregation, one brings financial gifts forward to give after receiving communion, and there is the opportunity to give in a box in the back of the worship space. There are pros and cons to each of these methods.

At Resurrection, we pass plates to receive the offering during the worship service. At some services, there is a distinction made between visitors and attenders. I think that when I have the opportunity to lead this part of the service in the future I will not make that distinction.

What do you think? What have I left of the lists above? What should be removed or reordered?