Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, at Holy Trinity Winchester, we looked in detail at the world-famous Trinity icon, written by Andrei Rublev, which has been in the safe keeping of Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery since the 1920s.
Coincidentally last Sunday, the icon was moved on President Vladimir Putin’s orders, to Christ the Saviour Cathedral, the Moscow seat of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch.
This was despite strong opposition from the Tretyakov Gallery custodians,
who warned that the icon was too delicate to move, and in need of constant specialist care to avoid drastic deterioration.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill responded by dismissing a senior priest who sided with the museum. Kirill declared that it would remain in the cathedral for a year.
I don’t know if the Patriarch is in the pocket of the President, or perhaps it’s an unhappy coincidence that the Head of State and the Head of the Russian Church see the present situation with Ukraine as a Crusade, in their eyes blessed by God, in the face of Western “infidels”. Observers see Putin’s order to transfer the icon to the Cathedral
as a reflection of his desire to strengthen ties with the church,
Some also interpret the move as a sign of Putin’s apparent belief in the icon’s miraculous power amid the setbacks in Ukraine.
The Lord must be broken-hearted to see how Putin and the Patriarch are presenting this war as just, as if it is God’s will that Putin and the Patriarch should have the blood of innocent people on their hands, as if this will lead to the common good.
God knows what it is like to be broken-hearted. Israel then and before and after then had broken His Heart many times. He experienced a broken heart when Israel chased after other gods.
His Heart was broken in the desert of the Exodus as the children of Israel proved disloyal to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were forgiven again and again. God was hurt again and again, and yet His love for them never waned.
Hosea: The Prophet of a Broken Heart.
God demonstrated his love through Hosea
as Hosea goes through a disastrous marriage filled with affairs on the part of an unfaithful wife. What seems so unfair, if I may say so, Lord, is that Hosea was forced into this marriage to make a prophetic point!
Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer, represented God’s unfaithful bride, Israel.
Gomer gave birth to three children, whose names reflected the state of the nation.
and the tragedy that would befall the people.
The first son’s name was Jezreel, because God said, “..I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.
Their daughter was named Lo-Ruhamah or “No Mercy”, because God would show no mercy.
The third child’s name was Lo-Ammi meaning “Not My People”
Gomer having given Hosea these forebodingly-named children, left Hosea and continued to live promiscuously and adulterously. She eventually returned to him, perhaps the money ran out, or her looks went off, and business became bad!
Hosea forgave her, just as again and again God forgave Israel, demonstrating God’s endless and unconditional love towards Israel.
The Book of Hosea reminds us that God loves all that He has made with all His Heart, His mind, His strength…… and thus God’s Heart is repeatedly broken.
This was particularly true before the Exile of the people to Babylon.
Throughout Israel’s history, God sent prophets to get the people back on track.
Hosea’s prophecy spoke into Israel’s hurtful behaviour towards God,
turning to other gods.
Hosea 6: 1 - “Come, let us return to The Lord. He has rent us and he will heal us;
he has struck us and he will bind up our wounds; after two days he will revive us, on the third day he will raise us up and we shall live in his presence.....
Hosea 6:6. "...faithful love is what pleases me, not sacrifice;
knowledge of God, not burnt offerings."
God’s heart broken again and again, Not just by Israel and Judah all those years ago,
but in the religious wars of the Crusades, all supposedly in His name;
In the holocaust of Nazi Germany, in genocides in Rwanda, the Balkans, Sudan, Yemen, and similar atrocities in too many places. And God must be sobbing His Heart out over the atrocities committed in the Holy Land!
Our God is a broken-hearted God, who forgives again and again,
only to be let down again and again.
Hosea 6:6…..faithful love is what pleases me, not sacrifice;
knowledge of God, not burnt offerings. (loyalty……)
Faith put into action from a faith-filled heart
speaks louder than going through the motions of sacrifice and empty words.
AND….If you are broken hearted, reach out to the Broken-Hearted God
who understands your situation only too well, and will walk with you through it.
And while you’re there, is there any outstanding forgiveness
that needs to be dealt with in your own relationships with other people?
A particular person? A forgiveness that needs to be owned?
Words of forgiveness that need to be said and felt from the bottom of your heart?
It has been my experience that God is good at engineering such a necessary encounter to happen!