Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trinity Sunday

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

That Trinity Sunday takes place the Sunday following the Feast of Pentecost in our liturgical calendar seems, to my mind, to be a very clever and appropriate place to put it. All during Lent we have readings where Jesus reminds us that he is the Son of God sent by the Father to suffer and die. These claims of divinity are given powerful and unanswerable witness by his rising from the dead, his post-resurrection appearances where he proves to his disciples that he is no ghost, but flesh and blood whom they can touch, and who eats and drinks with them; and then his return to where he had come from by his Ascension into heaven. During those forty days before his ascending, he made a further claim: that when he had gone, he would send them someone else – the Holy Spirit. And on the day of Pentecost he does just that, filling his disciples on that day, and all who have come after them, with a strength and courage that literally changed and changes the world.

So what better time to discuss the Trinity than the Sunday after Pentecost? In a short sermon it is not possible to go into great depth on the subject – the third of our Creeds, that of St Athanasius, the one that we will be using today, does that beautifully, in any case – but I think it important to note that our understanding of God existing in Trinity comes by way of Divine Revelation – it is something that God himself has revealed to us about himself. It is perfectly possible to understand much about God by way of philosophical speculation – that he exists, that he is eternal, all powerful, all knowing, creative, and loving for example – but that he is both One and Three is something we can only know by his telling us about it himself.

And this reminds us of something very important: God interacts with his creation. The universe is not like some clock that he made and wound up and left ticking and then walked away from, taking no more interest in what happens after that. He is active in his creation; not only did he create it out of nothing in the beginning, he re-creates it moment by moment as he sustains it in being by his creative will, and he both watches over and cares about what is taking place in it. 

We know this because of his self-revelation to us in Sacred Scripture and the Incarnation of the second person of the Trinity in Christ Jesus, and also because of the Holy Spirit that he sent to guide his Church. God Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit cares for and is concerned about our lives, and is in conversation with us, hearing us in our prayers, and responding to us both in action and in the Words of Holy Scripture.

That God teaches us about himself and how he wants us to live our lives is very important – it helps sustain us at those times of difficulty or doubt when we wonder if his Church really has it right or if we would be better listening to the voice of the world, the endless, pounding drum-beat of secularism that comes to us daily on a thousand radio and television stations, from every screen down at the local multi-plex, dominates much of the internet and the press, and has even colonised most of the interactions we have with those in the communities in which we live and work, worship and socialise. 

Knowing that God has revealed both himself and his teachings to us helps us to sustain our faith in the face of this onslaught – it is as if, to paraphrase our reading from Romans, when we cry out to God, ‘Abba! Father!’ in our pain, confusion, and doubt at all that challenges us in the world, he replies to us by way of His Holy Spirit, his very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ— and what we suffer in the world is not in vain for if, in fact, we suffer with him, so also may we be glorified with him. 

Or as Christ told Nicodemus, having been reborn of the water and the Spirit, who ever believes in the Son will have eternal life. Strengthened by all this, we are given the courage to carry out what Christ told us before he returned to heaven – that we are to make disciples of all nation, baptising them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – and with that strength, I pray that you will respond to Christ's call in the manner of the prophet Isaiah, who when he heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ replied ‘Here am I; send me!’ Amen

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