Thursday, June 23, 2011

June 19 Sermon - Trinity

To God the Father, who created the world;
To God the Son, who redeemed the world;
To God the Holy Spirit, who sustains the world;
Be all praise and glory, now and forever. Amen.

On this day when we consider our relationship with our triune God, God in three persons, I turn to a poet to hear it put to words.
Lord, who hast form’d me out of mud,
And hast redeem’d me through thy bloud,
And sanctifi’d me to do good;

Purge all my sinnes done heretofore:
For I confesse my heavie score,
And I will strive to sinne no more.

Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me,
With faith, with hope, with charitie;
That I may runne, rise, rest with thee.
This poem for Trinity Sunday by George Herbert, written in 1633, expresses our understanding of what the Trinity is (you can find the poem I just read in your leaflet); it is all about the Trinity without actually using the words Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God who created us out of mud, who redeemed us in Jesus blood, who sanctifies us through the Holy Spirit to do good. From that understanding, Herbert then in both confessing language and hopeful language asks God to purge his sins, to enrich his life, so that he can run, rise, rest with God.

I find Herbert’s poem to be about his relationship with God. The triune God who is part of our lives, from the beginning to the end, in whom we run, rise, & rest. Ultimately what this Trinity Sunday is about is our relationship to God and its importance. The Trinity is how we experience our relationship with God like Herbert’s poem. And maybe a child can help us with this, this is from a story from the NY Times a few years ago...

For Dana and her husband, God plays no role in their lives. Like so many young people brought up in strict religious homes, they abandoned the faith of their families long ago. They assumed they had stranded their four-year old son Luke in the same spiritual wilderness. But then Dana's husband was sent to Iraq.

While Dana was numb with anxiety, Luke was surprisingly calm. He missed his Daddy but he wasn't scared. One night, Dana and Luke were watching television. A story came on about a soldier on leave from the war for his wedding. The soldier began to talk about how dangerous it was in Iraq and how afraid he was to go back. Dana reached to switch the channel, but Luke wanted to watch. Out of the corner of her eye, Dana saw Luke steeple his fingers and bow his head for a split second.

"Sweetheart, what are you doing?" Dana asked. But Luke wouldn't tell her. A few minutes later, he did it again. Dana said, "You don't have to tell me, but if you want to, I'm listening." Finally, Luke confessed, "I was saying a prayer for Daddy." "That's wonderful, Luke," Dana murmured, surprised and abashed that somehow Luke would be embarrassed to pray for his father in his own home. Dana asked Luke when he first began to believe in God. "I don't know," he said. "I've always known he exists."

Luke's mother, Dana, wrote this: "It was as if that mustard seed of faith had found its way into our son and now he was revealing that he could move mountains.... I was envious of him. Luke wasn't rattled, because he believed that God would bring his father home safely. I was the only one stranded. For Luke all things are possible.... His prayers can stretch to infinity and beyond, but I am limited to one: Help thou mine unbelief." [From "Coveting Luke's Faith" by Dana Tierney, The New York Times Magazine, January 11, 2004.]
Luke, like so many children, possesses that openness of heart and spirit that enables him to realize God's presence in his life and in the lives of those dearest to him, his parents, even when he didn’t grow up in a religious house. He was not in a spiritual wilderness for Luke is able to sense the Spirit of God loving him and protecting him and his Mom and Dad and family. That is faith at its most basic, at its most enduring, it is the relationship with God we adults long to have, a faith and trust in God who loves us always and will never lose us.

Trinity Sunday celebrates God as we behold him in our simple every day lives; God the Father: The Giver of our lives; God the Son: Jesus, the human face of God who has redeemed us; and God the Spirit: the love that binds us to one another and to God, the Spirit that is still with us to guide our souls to pray and to do good in the world. In the end, its not about doctrine or what we say in the creeds. Its about what is in our hearts and our souls, that longing for connection for something bigger than ourselves, the source of our being, our triune God.

Luke in his prayers and calm hope helped his mother find it, even in her disbelief. May we possess the faith of four-year-old Luke: to be able to find God in the joys and sorrows, victories and hurt that are part of all our lives. Then we may like George Hebert say:

Enrich my heart, mouth, hands in me, O God,
With faith, with hope, with charitie;
That I may runne, rise, and rest with thee. Amen.

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