I find Trinity Sunday one of the most engaging, exciting days on which to preach. I have in mind words of wisdom from early church fathers who wrote about “economic trinitarianism” (we best understand the triune God as we observe God at work) and also words from C.S.Lewis who extolled the image of God as being the eternal dance within him/herself to which we are constantly, warmly invited.
The sermon text is below the sermon audio.
Sermon preached at Trinity Church, Newport RI; Sunday May 27th 2018
The Reverend Alan Neale; “All working together…”
The Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service that allows you to voice-enable any connected device that has a microphone and speaker. Recently Wendy and I were gifted an Alexa… it’s been fun to ask questions and request music though sometimes “she” seems activated by an unknown, unseen and unheard presence in the room.
Yesterday I asked Alexa “Alexa, what is God the Holy Trinity” and her immediate response, “I do not know that one”. Putting aside she should have said “that three in one”, it struck me that her response (frustrating though it was) was probably representative of the vast members of Christendom, no less on this Trinity Sunday (our very own Patronal Festival).
Oh once there was a time, centuries ago, when a church theologian (Gregory of Nyssa) wrote that if you visited the local market you would soon be embroiled in matters of Trinitarian theological debate. He writes, “If you ask someone to give you change, he philosophizes about the Begotten and the Unbegotten; if you inquire about the price of a loaf, you are told by way of reply that the Father is greater and the Son inferior…” Well, times they have a-changed in Shaw’s and Stop and Shop today.
If we respond at all to Trinitarian talk, we tend to shudder a little and remember that what Churchill said of Russia in 1933 is just as true of the Holy Trinity… “”a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
And yet… our lections for today speak about the Holy Trinity in ways engaging and exciting, crucial and consummate, profound and prolific.
Today we celebrate what C.S.Lewis describes as the eternal dance of the Holy Trinity. In Mere Christianity Professor Lewis writes, “in Christianity God is not a static thing—not even a person—but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance” and, friends, we are constantly being invited to join the dance.
At our best… we want to experience worship that will strengthen us in times of disaster, despair and disappointment – thus it was for Isaiah when the good and saintly king Uzziah died! We want to experience worship that will shake us to our deepest core and make us new forever – thus it was for Isaiah as his vision became clouded, his ears were pounded and his very being was shaken. And what we want… is delivered to us by our Triune God… “holy, holy, holy” indeed. And Jesus takes up this theme in John 4:23 as he describes the Father being worshiped in Spirit and Truth.
There is, we read in 2 Chronicles 5:14, a worship so utterly profound that “the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.” Such worship is found as we commit ourselves to God in Trinity – immerse yourself in that eternal dance.
At our best… we want to experience a salvation that will set us from from sin, shame and guilt and set us free for life, love and laughter. And what we want… is delivered to us by our Triune God for the “Father so loved the world that he gave his only Son” and the experience of our salvation is constantly made real, made known to us by the Spirit who “blows where he wills.”
But, this morning, it is most on my heart to share with you that… at our best… we want to be rescued from what has been called the three greatest fears… the fear of being abandoned, the fear of being considered unworthy and the fear of being unloved. And what we want is again resoundedly, completely, effectively delivered to us by our Triune God. As Paul in Romans writes, the Holy Spirit invades our deepest being, brings order to the most complex of our experiences and enables us to cry with confidence to our Creator… Abba, Father. And if we find ourselves perplexed by the nature of the God our Father/Mother… the Son simply says, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
The Spirit invades the very deepest part of our psyche and once resident begins to enable us to cry “Abba, Father” with confidence, trust and gratitude. Jesus, the Son, describes for us the Father so utterly perfectly that he says in John, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” And God offers him/herself no longer as distant, disinterested and disengaged but rather as near to us, concerned about us and engaged with our lives.
The three great fears… being abandoned, being unworthy and being unloved. God in Trinity, from and to eternity, is at work to banish and eradicate, to disempower and make feeble these horrible and wretched, psychic and perennial fears.
Bill Wilson (Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 62): “This is the how and why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn’t work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.”
The Triune God we worship creates this triumphant arch and both draws us through and propels us forward to know our Creator as Father, expressed in Jesus and experienced in the Spirit.
Oh, thanks be to God… Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN