Tag Archives: Trinity Sunday

Jesus, Wisdom of God

Readings
Proverbs 8.1–4, 22–31
John 16.12–15

It used to be the conventional wisdom of New Testament scholars that predication of a divine nature to Jesus came about as a result of the impact of Hellenistic culture outside Israel and the ideas that culture had about the Divine. The assumption was that early Jews in tune with their monotheistic language would not use such language of anyone but Yahweh. The oneness of God ruled out speaking of multiple persons in the Godhead. — Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen, Christian Understandings of the Trinity, quoting Ben Witherington & Laura Ice, The Shadow of the Almighty

The reality that Second Testament and early church texts that speak of Jesus in relation to Woman Wisdom do not articulate a clear trinitarian self-understanding is not, in itself, an insurmountable problem. Across the early Jesus movement this is the same, as convictions about Christ and the Spirit are not clearly enunciated in a trinitarian doctrine. However, what is evidenced in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 is the claim that some early communities were experiencing the Spirit and the risen Christ, and understood these experiences in relation to Woman Wisdom. It was from the ground-bed of such experiences that later trinitarian theology arose. — Sally Douglas, Early Church Understandings of Jesus as the Female Divine

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In today’s psalm, Psalm 8, we read 

When I look up at your skies,
at what your fingers made—
the moon and the stars
that you set firmly in place—
what are human beings
that you think about them;
what are human beings
that you pay attention to them?                       Psalm 8.3–4 CEB

That’s the psalmist being awed by the night sky, but honestly he had very little idea of what the universe really is like. (Do you remember Douglas Adams, who wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy among other things? Adams said something similar, in his own inimitable style)— 

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space. 

We live in an amazingly huge universe. The distance from Earth to the observable edge of the universe is 46 billion light years. What’s beyond the edge? We don’t know, there may be something, maybe more of the same. Or not. 

We live in an amazingly old universe, some 13.8 billion years old. The earth we live on is 4.5 billion years old. 

We live in an amazingly odd universe, where light may have the properties of either a particle or a wave, where there is dark energy which can only be inferred, and in which if you know how fast a particle is travelling you can’t know exactly where it is. Or something like that.

We live in a universe that I can’t comprehend. When I say it’s 13.8 billion years old, or its edge is 46 billion light years away, I really don’t get those numbers. I can probably visualise a few thousand at most, but I’m throwing those ‘billion’ numbers around without any understanding of how big they really are. 

I can’t comprehend the universe, and I can’t comprehend God. 

I can’t comprehend the universe, yet I believe in God. 

Should that be like a confession, something from a twelve-step program? Hello, I’m Paul. I can’t comprehend the universe and I believe in God. It’s been six weeks since my last feeling of awe and wonder. 

How may I know anything about the God who spoke this universe into being? How may I have any knowledge at all of the God who gave birth to such an odd and weird place? 

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The Trinity of Love

Readings
Isaiah 6.1–8
John 3.1–17

‘Jesus’ signifies the human being whose personhood is eternally caught up in relation with God and the Spirit. The name of the Trinity signifies the eternal bond of tripersonal love revealed in the man Jesus. Christians know, as deeply as they know anything, that God without Christ and the Spirit is remote and unavailing, that Christ without God and the Spirit is a martyred saint, that the Spirit without God and Christ is power bereft of form and direction. Faith lives from the interconnection of the three. — R Kendall Soulen, The Divine Name(s) and the Holy Trinity, Kindle ed., loc.198

______________________

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

That’s 2 Corinthians 13.13, the last verse of that letter that Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. 

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…

That’s the second-last verse of the Gospel According to Matthew. 

The New Testament is full of passages in which the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are spoken of in one breath. These passages are building blocks of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.

It’s Trinity Sunday. So let’s make time for a little art appreciation. 

Why art appreciation? Because a picture paints a thousand words; and even thousands upon thousands of words may still obscure the beauty of our God, the Holy Trinity of Love. 

Rublev

This is an icon of the Russian Orthodox Church, painted (or ‘written’) by a monk called Andrei Rublev about 600 years ago. 

It’s based on the story of three angels who pop in on Abraham and Sarah by the oaks of Mamre in Genesis 18. Abraham gives them a meal. Before we get very far into the story though, the angels are being spoken of together as one being: the Lord. 

In other words, by the end of the story the three are one. You can see why that excited people’s imaginations with thoughts of the Holy Trinity.

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“Trinity Sunday” by Malcolm Guite

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.

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Holy, holy, holy One (Trinity Sunday, Year B, 3 June 2012)

Readings
Isaiah 6.1-8
Romans 8.12-17
John 3.1-17 

 

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.

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Trinity Sunday

The Trinity: I just can’t help myself

Readings
Romans 5.1-5
John 16.12-15

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

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Two short sermons for Trinity Sunday

Ok Gary & Lynn, two sermons!

Isaiah 6.1-8

John 3.1-17

MORNING SERMON

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.

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Holy! Holy! Holy!

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)

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