Two short sermons for Trinity Sunday

Ok Gary & Lynn, two sermons!

Isaiah 6.1-8

John 3.1-17


God is Love

O Father, our hope;
O Son, our refuge;
O Holy Spirit, our protection;
O Holy Trinity, glory to you. Amen.
Adapted from the Prayer of St Ioannikios, c. 762-846

Soon, we’ll baptise D and L. It’s a great day!

In our baptism service, we’ll hear these words:

God is love;
we love, because God first loved us.

God is love. Pure, unadulterated, overflowing, eternal love for us.

Why are the M and V families here to see D and L baptised today? One word: Love. They love D and L. Where else would they be? And what better reason could they have?

Two people are in a relationship. How do you tell if they love each other? You see it by their actions. Actions speak louder than words. Someone may say they feel love for another, but treat them badly. Is that real love? You be the judge.

It’s the same with God. How might we tell if God is loving?—we tell it by God’s actions in loving others. God loves the world; as it says in John 3.16,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

God showed his love to us. How? The Son became a human being and gave himself for us. The Christian faith is truly a faith of love.

God loved the world so much—that’s you and me—that he gave his Son.

God loved the world so much—that’s you and me—that he gave us his Spirit so that we might know God.

It’s not enough for God to be Father, Son and Holy Spirit—God’s love overflows so much that God makes a whole universe to love.

And here’s the thing—God is delighted when we love others. God is thrilled when we love the world. God is overjoyed when we show that love by caring, forgiving, reconciling, helping the people we meet.

We have a ‘picture’ of God the Holy Trinity here, which was painted in the early 1400s by an Orthodox monk called Andrei Rublev. It’s actually an icon, a picture that shows us something deeply true about God. There’s a lot to say about this icon, but we’ll just say one thing.

Rublev Trinity

Father, Son and Holy Spirit are seated around a table. It makes me think of a Communion Table.

There’s a fourth side to the table. It’s vacant, and we are invited to take our place there with God. We are invited to join the circle of love that God is. We are invited to share the life of the Trinity.

Very soon, we’ll baptise D and L in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The invitation to live life as God’s guest is theirs and ours. We are invited to open our hearts and our lives to God, to share life, to show love, to be everything that God has called us to be.

Love. And the love of life. And the love of life with God, and in God. That’s what the Trinity is about. It’s that easy, and that demanding.



One God, Father, Son, Spirit

O Father, our hope;
O Son, our refuge;
O Holy Spirit, our protection;
O Holy Trinity, glory to you. Amen.
Adapted from the Prayer of St Ioannikios, c. 762-846

Today is Trinity Sunday!

The Uniting Church has a Statement of Faith that we’ll have a series on one day soon. It’s called We are a Pilgrim People, and it begins:

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

You know, we could believe simpler stuff about God than the Trinity.

We could just believe that God is in heaven, and we are on earth. And never the two shall meet. That would make Jewish believers and Muslim believers happier. Many Muslims in particular seem to think that we believe in three gods.

But we believe in one God—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How did that happen?

Just one little thing, really. It was the Resurrection of Jesus. Oh yes, and Pentecost. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Suppose you’re an ordinary person living in Galilee 2000 years ago. You believe in God. One God. No more, no less.

This God is hard to know. When Isaiah had his vision of God in the temple in Jerusalem all those years ago, he said

the hem of [God’s] robe filled the temple.

The hem filled the temple! How big is a hem? Yet just the hem of God’s robe fills an entire temple. We can’t know a God that huge.

So, you’re this person 2000 years ago who believes in this big, unknowable God. You meet Jesus, and you hear his message. He is preaching about the Kingdom of God, when God will rule the earth and there will be total justice and peace. Sounds good. You like that.
You’re attracted to him and to his message.

Then the worst happens. He is taken by the Temple guards, and then to Pilate. From there it’s a foregone conclusion: the cross.
He’s dead. There’s nothing for it. You go home, back to baking or building or farming or whatever you do, and try to forget.

Months later, you hear rumours. He’s alive. You don’t believe it. Of course, there were other stories of people being brought back from death, like Lazarus. But none of them were put to death on a cross. That’s pretty final—dying on a cross means you’re cursed.

Then one of the Apostles comes to your town.

He tells you what he has seen.

He saw Jesus after he rose from the dead. It wasn’t like Lazarus, he says. You knew that it was Lazarus straight away. No, this was different. People didn’t recognise Jesus at first. When they did, the truth began to dawn on them. Jesus hadn’t come back from the dead. He had gone through death, and beaten it! He went through death and now he is absolutely fully alive in a glorious way.

This life he had was the life he had before, but it was shining through him now. They began to realise they were in the presence of the Lord. God.

God was standing right in front of them.

But God is in heaven.

They began to see that God was both in heaven, and in front of them. Still just the one God though.

This captivates you. Somehow, it seems fitting that Jesus shouldn’t just end on the cross.

But wait. There’s more.

Jesus sent his Spirit upon the believers at Pentecost. His Spirit, the Spirit that energised him. The Spirit that inspired his words and his
actions. It was now in his disciples.

And they began to realise one more thing. If Jesus is the Lord—God—then his Spirit is also the Lord. God.

So God is in heaven.

God is beside them, in Jesus the Son.

And God is inside them as the Holy Spirit, making God knowable.

One God. Three places.

Father in heaven; Son who is one of us; Spirit who lives within us. All God. Just the one God, mind.

Just then the Holy Spirit sets your heart on fire, and you begin to believe.

Let’s look at the journey you’ve been on.

Many people believe in one God. He’s in heaven, or somewhere. How can we know that God? How can we please this faraway, unknowable God?

We can only try as hard as we can.

But suppose this God isn’t like that. Suppose God loves us so much that God becomes one of us. He shows us God’s loving nature. He shows us God’s desire to forgive us. He shows us that God is love.

He is killed because he upsets people in power, but that’s not the end. Death can’t hold him. He lives today.

And suppose this God still can’t contain himself. His love overflows so much that he doesn’t just become one of us; he comes to us in the Holy Spirit. This Spirit within us—this Spirit that guides and directs and sometimes convicts us of sin—this Spirit is God too.

This is the Trinity. Once we believe that God loves us enough to do something about it himself, it’s a short step to the Trinity.

God isn’t a long way off. God is right here. And we need God to be right here. God might send us to do difficult things, like he sent Isaiah.
Following Jesus might lead us into places that can be pretty scary. The Spirit might give us a love for people who are hard to live with. But now we know who God is—what God is like—we can do it. For we have discovered that God loves us; and God will never leave us.

When we become a Christian, this is the God we give ourselves to. Not a far off God—a God who gives, who loves, who cares, who sends, who makes life worthwhile.

Let us pray:
God of truth, eternal Joy,
your grace overflows in Jesus Christ,
and your love through the Spirit;
help us to rejoice in your kindness,
receive your mercy
and live in your peace,
for the sake of Jesus your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.

1 Comment

Filed under church year, RCL, sermon

One response to “Two short sermons for Trinity Sunday

  1. Two for the price of one [or none in our case 8-)] – can’t get a better deal than that.

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