Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trinity Sunday

Preached at St. Anne’s, Damascus, MD 6/19/11 Matt 28:16-20

(A BCP will be needed to get a complete understanding of this sermon.)


n the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Happy Trinity Sunday to all of you. Yes, this is Trinity Sunday….that illusive and mysterious part of the Christian faith…a part of our faith that has historically caused great divisions to be made within large swaths of the church universal….a part of our faith that each of us struggles with (or ignores)…and yet is an integral part of how we worship, what we say when we worship, how blessings are bestowed. Many preachers groan at the prospect of having to preach on Trinity Sunday and because of that reticence chose to focus on something else. We are going to address this issue head on.

When people ask what we as Episcopalians believe, a common answer is “come and worship with us.” Our worship, what we pray, illustrates best our beliefs and our faith. How do we start our service? We start with the celebrant saying: “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” and the congregation responds, “And Blessed be God’s kingdom, now and forever.” We start most services with this opening acclamation (except in Lent and Easter-tide). So we start each service the this acclamation of the Trinity. We end each prayer with something along the lines of, “all this we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom you (God) and the Holy Spirit live and reign forever and ever.” Once again, the Trinity rears its head. The absolution for the Confession of Sin contains the Trinity. The Nicene Creed we way each Sunday contains three distinct parts: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Our Eucharistic Prayers weave together not only the long history of our faith, but also invokes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit throughout them. And our Blessings at the end of the service contain the Trinity. This article of faith, this mystery that is the Trinity, infuses all that we do here. And by our verbalizing those Trinitarianisms, we are affirming their interconnectedness.

We are going to do an interactive exercise today. Please open your Prayer Books to page 846. We are in the (scary) Catechism section of our BCP. I commend this section to all of you for regular review, thought and prayer. We are going to be jumping through a few sections in the Catechism, so hold on to your hats, or at least take out your reading glasses. On the top of page 846 is the section “God the Father”. I will read the question (the “Q”) and all of us will read the Answer together……

Okay….now please turn to page 849 and we will review “God the Son.” Same gig as last time, me the question, all of us the answer……

And now flip to page 852 and “The Holy Spirit”…….

Now…..we have only one more question to answer. Please look back on page 852, the question just before “The Holy Spirit” section. The question is “What is the Trinity?” And the Answer is: “The Trinity is one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.”

Alright then, our job is now complete….all our questions are answered….aren’t they?

What are we to make of all of this explanation of a concept that can truly be thought of as mysterious? How does this inter-connectivity of the Trinity fit into, inform and help us in our daily lives?

Our Gospel reading from Matthew today is the ending of that Gospel, with Jesus giving the great commission to the disciples telling them to make disciples of all nations and then Jesus invokes the Trinity saying go and baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus instructs these 11 remaining disciples to teach and then says to remember, I am with you always……

Jesus is promising us that he is with us always. Jesus is saying that he is connected to us. We may not think that the inter-connectivity of the Trinity has anything to do with us: but those three persons certainly are connected with us. Those three entities are somehow, mysteriously, one God. We all are created in God the Father’s image, even in all our wild diversity: we are intimately connected to God the Father because of that creative act. God the Son, the fully human and yet fully divine Son of God was sent to us, to not only prove God’s love for us, but to help us understand that God is connected and understands who and what we are: and Jesus promises that connectivity to us today. God the Holy Spirit is among us, to prod us, to guide us, comfort us and connect us one to the other, and to the Trinity. We saw the work of the Holy Spirit last week in those two separate accounts of the gifting of the Spirit – as of fire and as breath from Jesus.

Our connectivity to each other, in this intentional Christian community, living, worshipping in faith, is part of living out our connectivity to the Trinity, and the Trinity’s connectivity to us. And we are reminded of that Trinity’s connection to us, the love the Trinity has for us, in the promise Jesus makes to us today: I am with you always……

This isn’t cold comfort we are offered today. This is real and palpable and open to all of us. God’s actions in the Genesis account of creation drives home this point of interconnectivity. God created light and dark, and the waters and the sky and the land and vegetation, and the stars and the sun, and swarms of living creatures of all kinds, and humankind. By those acts of creation, whether we take them literally or metaphorically, God created them to be interconnected: food and life, air and water and life, light and darkness and rest and life.

We are all inter-connected in this community of faith. When one of us is in pain, we respond. When one is lonely, we visit. When one is hungry, we feed. We are all inter-connected by living in this intentional community and acting for the establishment of the Kingdom Jesus opens for all of us.

We can try to ignore what this Sunday means, trying to ignore the existence of the Trinity. But those actions belie the truth of the inter-connectivity of us all. By walking into the mystery of the Trinity, even if we do not understand this concept perfectly, (and who does?) we are still faithful by simply saying in prayer:

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


Copyright 2011, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.

Photo: A Trinity of Hibiscus Flowers, 2011, jfd+

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