Sermons



Anne Currie
30th May 2021
Trinity Sunday

“The Rabbit hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well…

Down, down, down, I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth?
Down, down, down, I wonder if Dinah (the cat) will miss me?

She began to doze off as she fell, dreaming about Dinah, when suddenly, THUMP, THUMP! Down she came upon a heap of stick and dry leaves, and the fall was over.

… the rabbit was no longer in sight and she found herself in a long, low hall, lit up by a row of lamps hanging from the roof, and there were doors all round the hall….”

Tumbling through all the church festivals can seem a bit like falling down the rabbit hole, they come along one after another it seems, especially when the timings mean that Easter falls on an early date.

We’re at the end of a long run of special times and festivals in the church beginning with Advent in December, through Christmas, then Lent, then Easter, Ascension Day Pentecost and now Trinity Sunday. From now on we have a long gap of what we in the church call ordinary time, until the end of November when we meet Advent once again.

Trinity Sunday when we think about God, the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and where we fit in.

After all the excitement of Pentecost, when we reach Trinity Sunday, it’s time to take a deep breath and wonder about what this all means, after all we have lots of ordinary time to do it in!

There seems no end of metaphors to choose from to try and explain the Trinity … it’s a bit like being Alice when she reached the bottom of the rabbit hole and found herself in the hall of doors, which one do you choose? Which will be the right one?

They all attempt to find that one illustration that makes perfectly clear the idea of three distinct personalities, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, but, all are still that one persona – God!

And whichever one you choose, there’ll be someone to say… No that’s not right you are speaking heresy there!

From the first days of the church people have been asking themselves… just what is the relationship between God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are they separate entities or just the one? And how can we know how God works?

The early church spent a lot of time thinking and arguing about this question. And the idea of the Holy Trinity was the best they could come up with… for how do you describe God and the nature of God?

Us humans are a very inquisitive race, and we always have to know and understand how something works. Even God himself! We can’t bear
the thought that we don’t know everything about everything!

However, the range of our knowledge is by no means complete.

Scientists are finding out new things that we didn’t know all the time. Just recently discoveries have been made about dark matter, the stuff that fills in the gaps in the universe… and that’s causing some scientists to question Einstein’s theory of relativity… something that we have always been told is something fixed and unchanging. You can imagine that it is very much a talking point amongst the relevant experts!

We don’t know everything… and I think it’s probably very understandable and acceptable that we can’t explain how God works!

But we try anyway… One of my favourite illustrations of the Holy Trinity is this… the Celtic three-cornered knot. It might not be the full story of how God works, but gives us something to think about.

Each corner of the knot represents either Father, Son or Holy Spirit, but if you look closely, you can see that the corners are linked by one continuous line, none are separated. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are unique but also joined, interconnected. And the whole thing together is God.

One of the early church theologians called Augustine described the Holy Trinity as an illustration of ‘God is love’… and this works for me.

God the Father, the lover – God is free – to be the lover and to love his creation and to let it evolve
God the Son the beloved – the one who shows us how to love…
God the Holy Spirit – the love between them which spills out to draw in the rest of the world into that circle.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, who came to show us how to love… and by following Jesus’ example, what amazing things could we achieve with love in this world?

And in our Celtic knot there is also a circle that interconnects all three, and I like to think of this as a circle of love… binding the three of the Trinity and binding us within this circle of love. And this circle is expandable! No question of who is in and who is out! There’s room here for everyone.

This whole model is flexible for there are no edges or walls to God!

All the lines here are interconnecting, which is something, as we gradually return to something like normality in our social lives, that we may well have to learn to do again.

Many of us have been separate and apart for well over a year now, and we will have to rekindle friendships and community life. Things may never get back to what they were before. We’ve moved on, some have come to love peace and space, and many of us may never want to return to travelling on crowded public transport as we used to. But we do yearn to socialise and be community again.

A prime example is here in church. When allowed, we’ve been three congregations for nearly a year now. We don’t meet, one group has to have cleared the building before another arrives. I wonder how we can rebuild the fellowship that we had before? How will we interconnect once more – both in church and also out into the community? How will we expand this circle of love?

I think this is the challenge that comes out of our reading from Isaiah this morning… I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us? And I said, ‘Here am I, send me.’

In the coming months when there are no church festivals, we are challenged to find and meet with the God who shows up not only in the more dramatic times such as Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas, but who meets us also in the rhythms of our daily living: in the patterns and repetitions and rituals that give order to our days; in the relationships and connections that reveal the God who inhabits every day.

The early British Celtic church was fond of prayers about the trinity and the three faces of God in one. So here is a blessing for you.

In this new season

may you know

the presence of the God

who dwells within your days,

the mystery of the Christ

who drenches you in love,

the blessing of the Spirit

who bears you into life anew.

In the coming days and weeks — and in these moments, here and now—how and where will you look for the presence of the God who seeks you with constant love?

Isaiah 6.1-8
John 3.1-17