Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trinity Sermon

Taxiing my kids between sporting event this week, I heard a song on the radio with these lyrics:
I'm still alive but I'm barely breathing
Just prayed to a God that I don't believe in
(Breakeven by The Script)
It is a song about broken hearts, broken dreams, but it is that line about “praying to a God I don’t believe in” that caught my attention. I wondered what God they were talking about. From childhood? From our culture? And then I thought about what our prayers say about us and what we believe. Who is our God?

The author C.S. Lewis tells us what our prayers say...
An ordinary simple Christian kneels down to say his prayers. He is trying to get into touch with God. But if he is a Christian he knows what is prompting him to pray is also God: God, so to speak, inside him. But he also knows that all his real knowledge of God comes through Christ, the Man who was God--that Christ is standing right beside him, helping him to pray, praying for him. You see what is happening. God is the thing to which he is praying - the goal he is trying to reach. God is also the thing inside him which is pushing him on - the motive power. God is also the road or bridge along which he is being pushed to that goal. So that the whole threefold life of the three-personal Being is actually going on in that ordinary little bedroom where an ordinary man is saying his prayers.
The truth about the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is said in our prayers. Its not so much an understanding, a belief beyond us but God within us. As Jeremy Taylor, bishop and one of the authors of the King James Bible, put it this way:
No man can be convinced well and wisely of the article of the holy, blessed, and undivided Trinity, but he that feels the mightiness of the Father begetting him to a new life, the wisdom of the Son building him up in a most holy faith, and the love of the Spirit of God making him to become like unto God.
For St. Patrick and the Celtic Christians, the Trinity was often used in prayers. Patrick said, "I must teach from the rule of faith of the Trinity." As he ministered to the people of Ireland as bishop and missionary, it was the Trinity that he used to confess: of God the Father, Son & HS and the people converted to faith in Jesus Christ and faith in the Trinity. "We confess and adore him, one God in the Trinity of sacred name."

The shamrock has become a symbol of the Trinity and is used to remember Patrick and his work with the Irish and the Trinity to which he confessed. Legend has it that he used the shamrock as symbol of the Trinity with its three leaves. Patrick's life was full of dangers and hardships but his prayers and confession speak of his faith & reliance on the Trinity, on our God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As Christians, following in the footsteps of Patrick, Jeremy Taylor & C S Lewis, our prayers are grounded in the Trinity even if we are unaware, for the Father who created us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit given to us at baptism to guide us now, are still all active in our lives today.

Maybe the best way to understand it all, is through a poem, for maybe it is the poets who can help us best today. George Herbert, priest and poet in the Church of England lived some of his life in faithful service of his congregations in Cambridgeshire and Salisbury. And it is there he wrote his poem for Trinity Sunday. Herbert prays to the triune God, here described as creator, savior and sanctifier, for forgiveness and the power to serve God all of our days. This is a prayer that we can make our own on this Trinity Sunday:
Lord, who hast formed me out of mud,
And hast redeemed me through thy blood,
And sanctified me to do good,

Purge all my sins done heretofore;
For I confess my heavy score,
And I will strive to sin no more.

Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charity,
That I may run, rise, rest with thee.

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