Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 3 Sermon: Trinity Sunday

Thanks be to the Father
I arise today
He gives me light
He guides my way

Thanks be to the Savior
I arise today
He gives me love
He hears me pray

Thanks be to the Spirit
I arise today
He gives me life
With me to stay. Amen.

This ‘Rising Prayer’ by David Adam, a priest and author, helps us see our connection to the Trinity, our understanding of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

As I thought about Bishop Laura’s stories from last week about her time in Haiti, it got me to thinking about our relationship with God. How we talk about it.

David Adam’s prayer is in the celtic tradition. David says: “Celtic Christians saw a universe ablaze with God’s glory, suffused with a presence that calls, nods and beckons – a creation personally united with its Creator in every atom and fiber.”

That connection in Celtic Christianity was always with the Holy Trinity. As one person put it, “They followed the one God who embraces the world with his two arms of love: the right arm is Christ, the left arm is the Spirit.”

What Trinity Sunday is about is our relationship to God and its importance. The Trinity is how we experience our relationship with God and our ancestors in England, the celts, understood this at a very personal level and were comfortable with it.

The Carmina Gadelica – a collection of prayers, hymns, poems and songs collected and translated from the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland in the 19th Century, is a treasure trove of this understanding, one night prayer says this…
I lie down this night with God
And God will lie down with me
I lie down this night with Christ
And Christ will lie down with me
I lie down this night with the Spirit
And the Spirit will lie down with me.
This understanding of the Trinity, of God understood in three ways, is part of our intimate lives. It calls us to remember and renew a deeper understanding that to call upon God, is to call upon the three. The Trinity can also be seen in something much earlier, St. Patrick’s breastplate, a copy of which you have in the bulletin (or the Hymn we just sang #370).

I bind unto myself today
the strong Name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three.
Of whom all nature hath creation,
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.
Why I bring this up, is that as Christians, our understanding of God is important, and how intimately involved God is in our lives, helps us understand ourselves too. We remember that salvation is through Christ, but it is the Trinity that invites us into a deeper relationship with God.

As Frederick Buechner, a Presbyterian minister and writer, captures that idea this way: “Father, Son and Holy Spirit mean that the mystery beyond us, the mystery among us, and the mystery within us are all the same mystery. Thus the Trinity is a way of saying something about us and the way we experience God.”

Whenever we call upon God, we are touching upon mystery, but not just mystery beyond us, but mystery that is right here and now. So how might we think of this relationship with God, of God: Father, Son & Holy Spirit?
Think of a wedding -- one of the happiest days of their lives.  During the reception, the whole family is on the dance floor. It starts with their son, who served as an usher, dancing with his mom. The new bride is dancing with her father. Soon the four of them are dancing together, holding hands, clapping, laughing and crying. Before long they are joined by the newest member of their family - their daughter and sister's new husband. It is a moment of complete joy and love for a family that together conquered the many challenges of marriage and parenthood and growing up.

It is a picture of God. (Connections)
That is how the seventh-century theologian, St. John of Damascus described God. He spoke of God as periocoresis - from the Greek words for around (peri) and dancing (choresis). He wrote: "Father, Son and Holy Spirit are like three dancers, holding hands, dancing together in perfect love, perfect freedom and perfect harmony. They are deeply one and yet they are three. They are unified in one intimate, indissoluble substance, yet they are a recognizable community. Most importantly, they are what they are only in relationship to one another - in shared purpose, in mutual love that is expressed through each other for eternity. And so should we be united together."

On this first Sunday after we have ended our Easter celebrations at Pentecost, we contemplate how we encounter God: God as Father and Creator, God as Son and Teacher and Brother, God as Spirit and Love that binds us to God and to one another.

This Trinity, our God invites us, out of love impossible to fully comprehend, to join the dance with God, to join in the mystery. Let me end with a prayer from the The Carmina Gadelica…

In name of Father,
In name of Son,
In name of Spirit,
Three in One :

Father cherish me,
Son cherish me.
Spirit cherish me,
Three all-kindly.

God make me holy,
Christ make me holy.
Spirit make me holy.
Three all-holy.

Three aid my hope,
Three aid my love,
Three aid mine eye,
And my knee from stumblin
My knee from stumbling Amen.

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