God so loved the world...
Trinity Sunday, 15 June, 2014
Melissa Clark, Theological Student
Preached at St Peter's at 9.30 am on Trinity Sunday.
May the words of my lips and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable to you Lord our creator, redeemer and sanctifier.
What a wonderful day in our parish. At 11am today we celebrate the 25th anniversary of Bishop John Bayton's consecration as bishop — at last count I think we have 8 bishops and about 150 people coming to celebrate this wonderful milestone with him and us. And here we are welcoming a new person into the family of Christ, as young baby Reggie's family bring him forward for baptism — and this all on Trinity Sunday. The day that we set aside to observe this most difficult doctrine of the church.
I am still trying to understand this; I think I will continue to try to understand this concept for my whole life — I don't think any of us ever come to a full understanding of what this Trinity means and how it happens. We sometimes forget that we are not actually divine and are only given a human understanding of how the divine works — that's why we have to accept that there is a whole lot of mystery about this faith deal that we've signed up for.
The concept of the Trinity though is not meant to confuse us or entangle our minds in some speculative impossibility. Rather it is a means to highlight relationship within a multiplicity where each element is intimately related with and to one another, whilst maintaining its own individuality.
If we try to put this into an applicable framework for us we need to think about the relationships that we have and how they form us. We become who we are within the context of our communities. Starting with the people who care for us when we are infants, through to teachers, mentors, managers and colleagues and the children we know, the people who surround us contribute to the development of our own stories and we to theirs. There can be no me without you and no you without the person next to you. This is the example that the Trinity gives us.
I remember being so apprehensive at my first service here on the Hill, and especially today preaching for the first time at the family service I am almost as nervous as I was then, but each person here in their own way has made a special effort to welcome me and allow me into their lives — albeit for just a short time on Sunday morning. I have truly felt that community with me and it has really become a part of my formation not only as a potential clergy person, but as a Christian. I would not be me without you.
There can be no son without the creator, no creator without the spirit. We know that this mutuality was from the very beginning of all things. If we go to Genesis we see that the spirit floated over the waters and that when God spoke creation came into being, and we know that Jesus is the word incarnate. There is not one without the other, no one greater than the other and so it is with us.
The key and main element to this sort of relationship is love. Love is the very essence of who God is and what God does — we are loved unconditionally. This concept is so hard for us to get our heads around because we are conditioned to look for the hidden clause, to reject compliments, to expect love to end. But there is no condition here — God so loved the world — so loved / loves us — that we were given the only Son of God so that we can experience eternal life.
God takes the initiative with us. Not waiting around for us to come to faith, not expecting us to understand the immense glory of God's grace; instead we get this gift — the gift of eternal redemption. This greatest example of love, of community of abiding with each other...and to this Reggie we welcome you with open arms.
For those who are visitors today we have been enjoying a winter series of sermons based on our Anglo Catholic identity. Although today is not specified in our Sermon Series it is very appropriate to acknowledge this aspect — one thing we know for certain is that we as Anglo Catholics are Trinitarian. We are called and sent by the Holy Spirit to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ in word and deed for the sake of the world God created and loves so much. We experience the Trinity every time we gather for the Eucharist we proclaim the Trinity in our creed — we have an intimate and tactile relationship with the Trinity.
As we all support Reggie and his family and Godparents in prayer, and then as we leave this beautiful place and go out into the world, let us be very intentional and remember this gift that we have. Let us remember that the Trinity is the revelation of God to us all and even more so it communicates the very life of God to us. And let us always recall that the community of the Trinity is an example to all of us — an example of abiding with each other, and turning towards each other in community and being with each other. As Christians, as members of God's family of grace and love, we are complete only with each other and within creation — we are the body of Christ and the Church not separately but together.
The greatest gift that this mystery of Trinity can give us is to look on each other as part of us. To encourage us to offer love and hospitality to everyone around us; to be thankful for each person who is in our lives, even in the smallest way, that they have helped to shape us, to pray for the world as if each person, each part of creation is part of the big jigsaw puzzle that forms each of us.
There can be no God without the Spirit, there can be no spirit without the Son.
There can be no me without you, there can be no you without your neighbour, there can be nothing without love.
Peace be with you all.