Apologies no service video today due to me selecting wrong frequency on sound input into camera 😐
Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2021
I begin with a question: How many of you lie awake at night wondering about the Theology of the Trinity? – Or alternatively how many of you dream about how the three persons of the Godhead are related?
....................I thought so............. its really not up there with your immediate and most pressing concerns.............You're probably much more absorbed and distracted by more mundane matters like trying to help a family member through the Leaving Cert or looking after a relative who is unwell or perhaps contemplating how you are going to adjust to going back to work after the pandemic or maybe planning a family wedding.
Lets face it the Trinity is not something that most people think of a lot – especially those who are not involved with institutional religion and or the mainstream churches.
Look at the evangelical churches and house churches and I would guess that very few of them are talking about the Trinity this morning. Its not even explicitly defined in the Bible though it is certainly strongly implied.
So why do we have a Sunday set aside to discuss and investigate the internal nature of the Godhead? Is it not even a bit arrogant on our part to think that we might possibly understand the inter-relationships of the persons of the Trinity?
The only way in which we can know God is in how God chooses to reveal Godself to us? God can never be an object in our eyes. God is always subject – I Am – The initiative is always with God and as 1st Corinthians reminds us 'Now we see through a glass darkly'.
To my mind Trinity Sunday is a call to humility ..................
.......... not something we are very good at but something that is essential if we are not to loose something absolutely vital by reducing faith into an intellectual and rather cold exercise.
I'm not saying we leave our brains and our intelect outside the room but that we learn that celebrating our relationship with God is perhaps more important than discecting it and even if we do it won't make any difference to that reality. God is God regardless of our attempts to define or understand God and the more we define usually the more we limit.
We love to tie things down in tidy definitions and define Truth in terms of Black and White.
I came across a lovely cartoon when I was preparing this sermon – It shows a scribe in the desert transcribing a long scroll and alongside is his friend or colleague who says with more than a hint of irony:
'Quit worrying about corroborating your sources – its not as if anyone's going to take all this literally”
But we do! We live in a fundamentally literal black and white culture which has little room for a wider and more generous definition of Truth.
Nowhere is this more clearly to be seen than in social media where people's whole lives can be torn asunder by a few words in a tweet, instagram or facebook post....We hop on words and we use them as weapons – We use words to divide – we use words to conquer - Heaven help anone who uses the wrong word for they will be crucified.
And that was ironically the history of the doctrine of the Trinity – wars were fought and blood was spilled before the formulae we find in our creeds today was settled on. All because of words!
Does that mean we throw away our creeds – that we do away with these ancient formulas of faith because of the bloody context in which they found their present form? No – I don't think so but it does mean that we perhaps look at them in a differnt light.
The great modern church historian Jaroslav Pelikan who was a great favourite of mine puts it so well when he says this about the recitation of creeds – and incidentally he was an advocate of singing the creeds:
“the singing of the creed is a very important and cherished way of indicating a universality of the faith across not only space, but time. To know that in the Philippines this morning this was the creed that was recited at mass and to know that the Emperor Justinian in the 6th century and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th, and my late father and grandfather all affirmed this.
It’s ‘we’ all of us together. And in a more profound sense, that also forms an answer to your — to your question. My faith and my faith life, like that of everyone else, fluctuates. There are ups and downs and hot spots and cold spots and boredom and ennui and all the rest can be there. And so I’m not asked of a Sunday morning as of 9:20, what do you believe? And then you sit down with a 3×5 index card and say, “Now, let’s see. What do I believe today?” No, that’s not what they’re asking me. They’re asking me, “Are you a member of a community which now for millennium and a half has said, “We believe in one God.” And so that’s what I affirm when I sing it”
And so back to the Trinity which is at the core of those creeds – it seems to me that the Trinity is an invitation.................
An invitation into a relationship with God and a relationship with one another in the Body of Christ – an invitation to participate in the mystery of God, not to define and understand it for that is ultimately impossible for us mere mortals but to celebrate and embrace it.
And what do we do when we celebrate? – We sing! (It seems Professer Pelikan was onto something here)
What else do we do? – we let go of ourselves and our need to be in control – to have all the answers – to know what is Truth – to exlude and to narrow the generosity of God ......
We become part of something bigger as in humility we relinquish our ego and we come closer to the true Word as we let go of our words.