Sunday, May 31, 2015

Trinity Sunday Sermon

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, uses the Celtic tradition & its emphasis on each person of the Holy Trinity.

Christians since our founding have tried to figure out how to describe this faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The early church began defining our faith through the use of creeds (Nicene & Apostles) but it still struggled to sort out the relationship between God the Creator, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit.

It wasn't until the 5th/6th century that The Athanasian Creed, a doctrinal statement regarding our Triune God was created. At a time when the church was still working out its understanding of the Trinity and of Jesus, when different groups had different ideas, the Church began to get the house in order.

The Creed (Latin) is believed to be written 100 years after the death of Athanasius of Alexandria.

Section I – The Trinity
Catholic faith = all of our faith (universal church)
And the son = the filioque!
Section II – Jesus

[The Shield of the Trinity is a visual representation of the doctrine of the Trinity, derived from the Athanasian Creed.] A version of the creed is on page 864-865 in our BCP.

Many metaphors have been employed to explain the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Spirit. The great Eastern Orthodox theologian of the eighth century St. John of Damascus saw "the Father as a root, the Son as a branch, and the Spirit as the fruit, for the substance of these three is one." Today we celebrate the heart of our Gospel-centered faith: our belief in the God who reveals himself as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

But ultimately the mystery of our Triune God must not rest with doctrines and creeds. For our beliefs, our creeds, must rest in our hearts. For ultimately our belief in God, is as the 1 John puts it, in God who is love.

As I read recently in a Trinity Wall Street newsletter about a member’s first memory of God:
"I was two or three," he remembers, "and I was angry about something. Very angry. I threw a tantrum and flew through the house crying and stomping. I ran and hid under my bed where I lay muttering to myself about how awful my mother was and how much she hated me. Finally, when I ran out of steam, I looked out from under the bed to see that my mother had been sitting quietly the whole time in the rocking chair, holding a glass of milk and patiently waiting. She wasn't angry at all, just waiting until I was ready to climb into her lap to be comforted . . . "[This] may be my earliest memory of any kind . . . a memory of God because it's what I think of when I read, God is love." [From "Formation is lifelong" by Robert Owens Scott, Trinity News, Trinity Church Wall Street.]
Today's celebration of the Holy Trinity reminds us of the many ways that God makes his presence known in the manifestations of his love in our lives and our world. God is the very love that creates, nurtures and preserves: the God who has revealed himself as Jesus, Son, the Word who unites us to God and to one another through his Gospel of reconciliation and peace; and the God who continues to reveals himself in our lives as Spirit, who enables us to realize God's love in our lives and to bring that love to others in our imitating the humble and generous servanthood of God's Christ.

I saw & felt such love on the track last night in Trumbull for the Relay for Life. In silence we walked around the track, the wind was blowing, our luminaria were lit, and I felt very connected to others who were walking but also to those who I was thinking about in my heart (those who had died of cancer & for those who are still fighting the good fight).
As a professor of mine put it, “Theology does well when it mitigates human hubris and invites us into the unknown. I still find Trinitarian language the most inviting, not for certainties but for encounters with the Lover, the Beloved, and the Love Overflowing.”
God is the source of all good things, from the air we breathe to the grace we experience in the kindness of the heart. May today's Feast Day of the Trinity be a re-connection for us with the many ways God makes his loving presence known in our lives, a feast of our faith.

In the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

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