Sunday, June 12, 2022
The Holy Trinity, Year C
Prayer of the Day
Almighty Creator and ever-living God: we worship your glory, eternal Three-in-One, and we praise your power, majestic One-in-Three. Keep us steadfast in this faith, defend us in all adversity, and bring us at last into your presence, where you live in endless joy and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Readings and Psalm
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Wisdom rejoices in the creation
Romans 5:1-5 God’s love poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit
John 16:12-15 The Spirit will guide you into the truth
Title: Completeness of God Filling Every Need
Who is God? That is the question of the day, on this Trinity Sunday. This annual mind bend and twist-day when we try to wrap our finite brains around an infinite abstract. But we come to this Sunday well informed. For some it has been a life of witnessing the mystery of the Trinity played out in one’s life. Whether or not that is you, for right now, let’s just look at the short term. The last six months, to be precise.
Starting in December, in the season of Advent we saw the Creator not giving up on the creature or the creation, we were reminded of Divine promises stubbornly made and remade through the course of tenacious accompaniment, and thus a new relationship was proposed, a new connectedness initiated.
In Christmas, the gift, the child was given, the promises were fulfilled, accompaniment becomes an intimacy beyond measure, shared experience contributes to define the new relationship. The distant dwelling place of God touches earth in the incarnation of the Savior Son.
In the Epiphany we were gifted with the faith and the freedom to explore this new mystery of Christ with us, of Word made Flesh. And a new inclusiveness was introduced. No more tribal religion. No more borders that separate. The God of the Hebrews becomes the Savior of the world.
But to truly appreciate the fulness of this gift, God invited us to take a step back and look at ourselves in the security of this gift. In Ash Wednesday and the journey of Lent, with the assurance that the parent was faithfully watching on the porch, we could look honestly at our straying and our lostness, our brokenness and our gaping needs.
And culminating in the events of Holy Week and with the world-changing witness and the great celebration of Christ’s resurrection, the relationship between Creator and creature is most assuredly and infinitely repaired and renewed. This breach that is bridged by Christ is referenced by Paul in his later to the Romans as we just heard read.
Finally, even though all that is enough and undeserved, God is made known yet again through the coming of the Holy Spirit to birth the church and to be present, to guide, to abide, to comfort, to inspire, to sustain, to continue the work of Jesus the Christ through us who are the body of Christ in this time and place.
What a journey it is not just for remembering past events or celebrating holidays and marking seasons. But more importantly, it is a journey into the identity of God as made known to us in the lives of the ancient forebearers, the preaching of the prophets, the words and deeds of Jesus the Christ, and the witness of those who have followed in the way that he calls us all to walk. So, for good reason we come back to this cycle of revelation year after year. Our changing world brings new meaning, new insights, new understandings into the identity of the Creating God who – in light of the witness beheld in Jesus and the empowering of the Holy Spirit – believers found it necessary to use new language to talk and teach of this One God who is revealed in Three Persons.
But it is not only these events and seasons of faith that bear witness to the Trinity. The attributes that we see in God made known through God’s relationship with humanity, reenforce this understanding of this one in three, three in one God. And in some cases these attributes even provide reasons why God must be three in one, and why this completeness of the one in three, though difficult to fully embrace and articulate, the completeness of the triune God is a gift to we who are made a little less divine.
For example, one can see God as angry and vengeful when viewed through the stories told by those early pioneers of faith; however in Christ, we see the priceless and abundant mercy of God and forgiveness that knows no limits. You could say that the completeness of the Triune God saves us, even from God themself.
Or the omnipotence of God can set them in a place far removed and unobtainable. You know, like what Bette Midler sings about – “From a distance.” And yet, in the incarnation of Christ and the continuing abiding presence of the Holy Spirit, we have an intimacy with God that is beyond our appreciation and full engagement. The completeness of God offers us the one who is almighty and at the same time abiding friend and profound presence.
Perhaps another example for these days of unrest and anxiety – one can see the Creator as having created a world of chaos and confusion, randomness and roughhouse. And yet this same God is the anchor of hope that enables us to weather the storms though they be acts of nature or acts of humans. The completeness of God gives us peace in the midst of God’s challenging creation.
In the midst of the current battle for American Christianity, I don’t know about you, but I find myself asking: “Are we all believing in the same God here?” Six years ago this weekend, the loveless rhetoric centered on the 49 who were slaughtered at the Pulse Night Club in Orlando. Remember? Some Christian leaders heartlessly claimed the victims were receiving God’s judgement for their sinful ways. Are those same voices saying that to the parents of slaughtered school children? And the God-less rhetoric continues today, coming from the Stedfast Baptist Church where the pastor is preaching from the pulpit that God teaches that gay people should be, “lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.”
My heart breaks for them that they are not able to see the completeness of God. Not just in terms of how others should be treated, but how God treats them. Do they only see the judgement of God and not the love and mercy of God for themselves as well?
Which leads us to the other important question for this day of mystery and majesty. As children of this Triune God, who are we? We who are made in the image of God who is complex in their trinitarian completeness. How do we live into the juxtaposition and the joy of all that we are created to be?
Certainly, Jesus knew that this is head-spinning stuff. In today’s gospel reading we see those poor confused fishermen and everyday folk sitting around the Last Supper table. Jesus giving last instructions and assurances. Perhaps one of the most merciful things Jesus ever did for them was to say: “There’s still more. A lot more. But I am not going to tell it to you know.” Just as the liturgical year takes us on a journey of God-discovery, so these two thousand years of Spirit-leading and revealing has taken the church, the world even, on a journey of discovery and discernment, a journey of opening minds and moving hearts, of barriers falling and doors opening. Over time isn’t that what the completeness of God is revealing themself to be and do?
Because ultimately, there is the attribute that is most telling, most defining, most complete in its summation of the Triune God, that which is at the heart of God; and that attribute is love. More than an attribute it is who and what God is. God is love, we read it in First John. We feel it in the water of the bath and taste it in the meal at the table. We see it throughout the church year. We witness it in Jesus. We experience it through the Holy Spirit. God is love.
I am currently reading Josephine Humphrey’s NOWHERE ELSE ON EARTH. A most engaging narrator has experienced a crush transform into love. Rhoda shares her epiphany that:
Love is a mystery not a bargain. It springs up not to fill a need but to create one.
Applying Rhoda’s insight to this Triune God who is love, then creation was born in love not to fill a need, but it sure created one. And the completeness of God just keeps on finding ways to express love for creature and creation. And our journey of discovery continues, rejoicing in that love made known in Christ, and, through the work of the Holy Spirit, finding new ways to share it.
The Rev. Mark Erson,