I am not preaching this Sunday, so I thought I’d introduce you to this sonnet by Malcolm Guite, Trinity Sunday: It comes from his wonderful collection, Sounding the Seasons: 70 Sonnets for the Church Year.
In the Beginning, not in time or space,
But in the quick before both space and time,
In Life, in Love, in co-inherent Grace,
In three in one and one in three, in rhyme,
In music, in the whole creation story,
In his own image, his imagination,
The Triune Poet makes us for his glory,
And makes us each the other’s inspiration.
He calls us out of darkness, chaos, chance,
To improvise a music of our own,
To sing the chord that calls us to the dance,
Three notes resounding from a single tone,
To sing the End in whom we all begin;
Our God beyond, beside us, and within.
I love the way the poem goes from “the life of God-as-God” to our lives participating in the life of the triune a God: God “makes us each the other’s inspiration”, to make our own music, yet music that calls us to the eternal dance of God, music with “Three notes resounding from a single tone”.
There is so much here to ponder and wonder at.
Holiness, a biblical concept associated with separation from the ordinary or the profane, on the one hand, and connection with God or the divine, on the other. God is supremely or definitively holy and people, things, and actions may be considered holy through association with God. Holiness may also include the ideas of consecration to God and of purity from what is evil or improper.
from ‘Holiness’, in Powell, MA, (ed.), HarperCollins Bible Dictionary
In the temple, Isaiah heard the seraphs sing these words:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of God’s glory.
At the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, we say these words in the Sanctus:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
And especially since it’s Trinity Sunday, we’ve sung Reginald Heber’s words:
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
When Isaiah experienced that vision in the Jerusalem Temple, he had no idea that over 2500 years later the Gentiles would be quoting his words in their services of worship. Holy, holy, holy!—but what is ‘holiness’?
Holy, holy, holy. God is holy because God is other than what we are. There is a separation between us and God. It has a lot to do with sin; when we are preoccupied with ourselves, we cannot notice God. But God is holy also because we are finite creatures, while God is infinite. We can’t see God. God is way beyond us.
The Trinity: I just can’t help myself
Before I came to Australia, I had two terms in an English grammar school. The kind where some teachers still went around in academic dress. The kind where Religion was a subject on the same basis as Maths or English or Latin. Then I came to Australia and my education came to a…
I love this story which comes from that old-style kind of school environment. The day before the big exam, the religion teacher says to the student,
Teacher: Now you’re sure you’ve got the Catechism all buttoned up, Hopkinson?
Hopkinson: I’m still a bit hazy about the Trinity, sir.
Teacher: Three in one, one in three. Perfectly straightforward. And if you have any more doubts about that—talk to your maths teacher!
But the Trinity is not a mathematical puzzle. The doctrine of the Trinity is not a mathematical nonsense. The doctrine of the Trinity is this: it is the best language we have to name God as love. Continue reading
Ok Gary & Lynn, two sermons!
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.
Today, we celebrate a great truth: God is one, as Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The early church leader Irenaeus once said, ‘The glory of God is a human being fully alive.’ God’s glory is indeed seen most clearly in the lives of women and men open to the Spirit, and no more clearly than in the life and death of Jesus Christ.
The Resurrection of Christ, and the gift of the Holy Spirit that flowed from that great event, has made in impossible for Christian people to speak of God separately from Jesus the Son. So, for example, when the Old Testament says, ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth’ (Genesis 1.1), the New Testament responds, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (John 1.1).
The entire history of the Church may be seen as the way Christian people have grappled with the realisation that God became human for the sake of the human race, and sends the Spirit among us to transform us in the true image of God, the image of Christ.
Christ has become the yardstick by which we measure what God is like. As one-time Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsay once said, ‘God is Christlike, and in God there is no unchristlikeness at all.’
And in God’s temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ (Psalm 29.9)
Filed under RCL, reflection
Sermon for Trinity Sunday
It’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of the law!”
What do you do? Would you open up?
Or, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of God!”
What do you do? Would you open up?
Or, it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. You hear a loud knock-knock-knock on your door. A loud voice cries: “Open up in the name of Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!”
What do you do? Would you open up?
If someone knocked on my door in the name of the law, I’d open it and peer around. Very nervously. I wouldn’t want to run foul of the law’s authority.
If someone knocked on my door in the name of God, I’d assume they were in dire straits. I’d open the door expecting to meet someone in great need.
If someone knocked on my door in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, I’d wonder what on earth was going on. I’d wonder it was a cross between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Vicar of Dibley outside. I’d sneak a look around the curtains before I opened my door. (Or maybe I’d send my wife out…!)
It’s a strange name, “the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” It sounds like it should be three names, but it’s not. It’s just the one name—the Father, Son and Spirit have one name between them. Continue reading