Tag Archives: Trinity

“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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On earth as in heaven (Ascension of Christ, Year B, 17 May 2015)

Readings
Acts 1.6–11
Ephesians 1.15–23
Luke 24.44–53

Jesus hasn’t just gone away. He has gone deeper into the heart of reality—our reality and God’s. He has become far more than a visible friend and companion; he has shown himself to be the very centre of our life, the source of our loving energy in the world and the source of our prayerful, trustful waiting on God. He has made us able to be a new kind of human being, silently and patiently trusting God as a loving parent, actively and hopefully at work to make a difference in the world, to make the kind of difference love makes.—Rowan Williams

…when he is seen, the exalted Lord is recognized, made particular, given content, by the fact that he bears tangible human scars, and forever confronts us wounded.—Rowan Williams, Resurrection–Interpreting the Easter Gospel

I decided to speak about the Ascension of Jesus today, and it took me quite a while to know how to approach it. To tell you the truth, if you just tell the story straight, it can be a bit embarrassing.

For example, the astronomer Carl Sagan once remarked that if the ascending Jesus had reached the speed of light, he wouldn’t have left our galaxy yet. Not even after 2000 years.

I mean, we don’t see the creation as a three-storey thing any more, with heaven on the top floor, earth on the ground and a shadowy world of the dead as the basement. We are becoming even more aware than ever of the vastness and strangeness of the universe.

The story is told about some Ascension Day celebrations at a particular theological college. A special Ascension Day service was held and the whole faculty in their robes and regalia gathered for the big celebration. It was quite an event.  Continue reading

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Grace, Love, Communion … (Trinity Sunday, Year A, 15 June 2014)

Readings
2 Corinthians 13.11–13
Matthew 28.16–20

 

Last week, I said that while preachers often feel the Trinity Sunday is a hard gig, I really feel that Pentecost is the hardest day to preach and to do justice to the message.

Today, I’m not so sure. Trinity may be the hardest day to preach after all. But here goes!

‘Trinity’ is the best way we have to speak of the unutterably great, incomprehensible God who came to earth in Jesus Christ and who comes to earth today as Holy Spirit.

God is unutterably great; God is beyond the understanding of our best minds. God has come to us as a human being, Jesus of Nazareth, exactly as we are yet without sin. God is poured out upon us as the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of God.

When the New Testament speaks of God, it often links God our Father with Jesus the Son.

For example, Paul begins 2 Corinthians like this:

Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is clear from the New Testament that we can’t think of God, we can’t talk about God, we can’t know God without Jesus the Son.

And then the New Testament also speaks of God in a threefold way, so Paul ends 2 Corinthians with these very familiar words:

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

And there are other places too. For example Galatians 4:

God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’

Or Ephesians 4:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

There are other examples, but let’s look at the closing verses of Matthew’s Gospel. Here, the (singular!) name of God is given as Father, Son and Holy Spirit:

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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.

And that’s the Name we use of course, whenever we baptise anyone. The name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

I wonder what would happen if we only baptised people in the name of the Father? Or just the Son? Or just the Holy Spirit?

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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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Trinitarian humour

As we’re in the Octave of Trinity, I thought some trinitarian humour might not go astray…

A Trinitarian Rap, and a model (!?) of a sermon on the Trinity here;

The amazing Dave Walker’s take on a Christian education approach to the Trinity;

Agnus Day (‘it’s one of those “three things”…’—hilarious!)

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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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