Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Note: This sermon was preached at a service of Choral Evensong
at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Berkeley, CA

“The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
(2 Cor. 13:13)

Trinity Sunday Jan Robitscher
Exodus 3:1-6 St. Mark’s Church
John 3:1-16 June 11, 2017

In the Name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.

In the calendars of many churches, today is Trinity Sunday. It is, perhaps, the logical conclusion to the celebrations of the the first half of the Church Year we began a journey that began with Advent, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus —God becoming one with us—to the promised gift of the Holy Spirit which we celebrated last Sunday. But what can we say about this threeness” and “oneness” of God—this mystery we call the Trinity?  Perhaps we can only stand in awe as Moses did before the Burning Bush, or maybe if we’re brave we can ask faltering questions to Jesus and await his patient answers. Or maybe it comes as the stunning anthem we have just heard [Jonathan Dove, Seek Him That Made the Seven Stars] which, to my ears, describes in music what the cosmos must be like. How shall we name this mystery?

There are many ways of trying, in human terms, to explain it. One of my favorites I remember seeing in a stained glass window which was a geometric symbol of the Trinity.  In the middle was a circle “God”. Then there was a triangle: at the top, “Father”; at the bottom left, “Son”; at the bottom right “Holy Spirit”.  On the connecting bars of the triangle were the words (all in Latin) “IS NOT”  On the bars connecting Each part of the trinity to God, the word “IS”.  So, while the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Spirit, they are all God.  Confused?

The window is essentially correct in it’s theology. The reason why we are confused is that, whatever our religious affiliation, we are all products of good old rugged American individualism. We can’t help but think of the Trinity as three individual beings.  This is where, if we kept going, we would fall into one or other heresy, and, if we struggled at it as individuals, it would surely end in an argument.  But we don’t have to go there.

The fundamental reality of the Trinity is not the individual members, but the community of Persons which is God.  And the nature of this community is that the diversity of Persons: Father, Son and Spirit--dwell in unity.  And it is in this community with God that we hope to dwell for all eternity in heaven.

It is upon this model of community that the Christian Community is made, whether it is two people in a marriage or twenty people in a small church or  a religious community of monks or nuns or hundreds of people in a large congregation-- or this group of worshippers right here.   

St. Paul used the analogy of the body and its members (Romans 12) to speak of this kind of community.  Each member is absolutely necessary and has a specific purpose, and each is valued and fostered. But the diversity of all the members is always drawn together in the Love of God.  Or, as a fellow preacher put it,
The loving mutuality of the Church has its source in the loving
mutuality of the eternal Trinity. 

It is not surprising that at the end of his second letter to the Corinthians, with words we shall say at the end of this service, St. Paul speaks of the “grace” of the Lord Jesus, the “love” of God and the “fellowship”  (communion, community) of the Holy Spirit--all of these, he prays, will dwell with us always.

So let us celebrate the Trinity that draws us here together in the Love of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit—many members from diverse places, backgrounds, families, denominations and perhaps even different faith traditions, together with those who have gone before. To God the Holy Trinity be glory, honor, praise and dominion, now and forever. Amen.