The Pas Trinity Sunday
Pentecost + 1
27 May 2018
Psalm 29 pg 738
Enfolding God, Trinity of love,
you are our source, our goal, our life:
may we be born again in you,
no more to live alone and unconnected,
but, sharing the Spirit’s breath,
be carried to your heart;
through Jesus Christ, who lifts us up. Amen.
Today we celebrate Trinity Sunday. Today we celebrate the three persons of the trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each as individuals in the trinity, yet at the same time, all one God. A true mystery of the Christian faith, that we uphold and honour, every day.
So, today, many will try to wrap their minds around the three persons, one God, image that we uphold in Christianity, and try to do it without causing undue migraine headaches or outright heresy.
At the same time, reading over the lessons for today we see God opening God’s arms, encouraging each one of us, looking for each one of us to live the lives that God envisions for each one of us. And this can be as much a mystery to our lives as the nature of the Trinity.
As I read through the lessons assigned for today, I began by pondering in what ways do we live in the presence of the Triune God?
And I’m sure, as we ponder this question in and for each of our lives, as we formulate places where we recognize that God is active in our lives, the top of the list, for us sitting here, includes coming to church.
At the same time, as we continue to ponder the question, I’m sure we will find more and more places in our lives where we live in the presence of God.
But there’s more that we can find today’s readings. So, once more I pondered, and I asked the question what is it that God wishes for each one of us?
And this brings us back to the readings for today. It brings us back to our baptismal promises.
It brings us back to being children of God. It brings us back to being in the presence of God, day and night.
Paul tells us, today, “15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”” (Rom 8:15)
And this is interesting. “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again.” (Rom 8: 15a)
So we do not live in fear again? Now, if we contemplate we know of slavery in North American history, which was in many ways different than what we’ve learned from Roman history, the idea of fear is not one we usual contemplate, yet Paul states it outright.
And, if you think of it, slaves have no responsibility, no roots, but are required to do as they’re told. At the same time, they don’t have a permanent place in the household, either.
On the other hand, children, heirs, have the responsibility to carry on with the work of our family. And in our baptisms, we are adopted into the family of God.
And this, then, leads us to consider what it means, how we are able to consider ourselves to be the children of God?
In today’s gospel “5 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7 You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”” (Jn 3:5-8)
We see Jesus talking about the movement of the Holy Spirit in the waters of baptism, and in each of our lives. Jesus talks about how baptism is a form of rebirth, although he never actually uses the words baptism, rather he talks of being “born of water and the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5b)
At the same time, Jesus emphasizes the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those of us who are baptized, who are the children of God, who are the heirs, in the kingdom of God, along with Jesus.
The Book of Alternative Services, in the baptismal covenant states several factors that we sometimes take for granted in our pursuit of our lives as Christians. BAS pgs 158-9)
The baptismal covenant walks us, article by article through the Apostles’ Creed, asking us if we believe in the individuals who comprise the Trinity, the triune nature of God. From there, it moves into the questions that encourage us to live in communion with God and with each other. To return to God when we fall off the wagon, when we make mistakes that we feel are insurmountable, but which are overcome by God’s love for each one of us.
We are asked to look after each other, to model Christ’s teachings to each other, to strangers and to the world all around us, looking after each other, strangers, and God’s creation with the same love and devotion that God has shown in making all of this and each one of us, as well.
To paraphrase the baptismal covenant asks each one of us: will we come to church? Will we repent and return to God, when we make mistakes? Will we proclaim the love of God for all people? will we serve others as Christ as served us? Will we seek justice, peace, and dignity for all of humanity? Will we look after and support all of the earth?
And to each question we promise “I will, with God’s help.” (BAS pg 158-9)
Now, interestingly, although we begin with the words of the Apostles’ Creed, it carries on with what we want to emphasize in our lives of faith, in our baptismal promises.
This week I had an opportunity to read a sermon by Thomas Long in regard to Trinity Sunday. He emphasized that a life in faith means a life lived in the Trinity, who we are looking at, today, that we are able to emphasize in our baptismal covenant.
He says: “In a magazine article [in 2012], a forest ranger in Wales described the most common question that visitors to his park ask the forest rangers. Many people, he said, come to the park to hike one of the beautiful trails that wander through the forest, trails designed to display the magnificent trees and plants, to let the hikers encounter the array of wildlife in the forest, and to take hikers on to hilltops for breathtaking views of the countryside. But the most frequent question that visitors ask the forest rangers is not “Where does this trail go?” or “How long does it take to hike it?” or “Do we need bug spray on the trail?” but instead “Excuse me, can you tell me where the trail starts?” It makes sense. No matter how lovely or breathtaking a trail may be, if you don’t know where the trail starts, you can’t hike it.” (http://day1.org/3823-the_start_of_the_trail)
Long said that a life lived in the Trinity is like walking a hiking trail, something that cannot be done until we find the place to begin and the place we begin is in Jesus.
It’s in the conversation on the rooftop, it’s in the invitation to follow where Jesus leads, how Jesus leads, and to a future that only the Holy Spirit can envision for each one of us.
And this is where we find ourselves, today. Some of us may be asking where the trail starts. Some may be admiring the beautiful and intricate scenery, and some may be just becoming aware that to journey within Christ, is to enter into the fullness of the triune God, in all of God’s beautiful variety. And this is significant, for each one of us.
One of my favourite quotes by the writer Max Lucado is “God loves you just the way you are, but God refuses to leave you that way.”
Jesus tells us that “8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit… 11 Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.”” (Jn 3:8, 11)
Being a child of God, this isn’t an easy thing to do. Yet at the same time, we are surrounded by examples.
To aid our lives of faith, we are given accounts of those who have striven to follow where God leads no matter how obscure God’s instructions may be. We have Abraham and Sarah. We have Joseph and all of his descendants who eventually became the 12 tribes of Israel. And these examples, and many more, are not to be cast aside as we all entrust our lives to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, today, and onward.
We have the examples of those who have fallen off the trail, such as Adam and Eve. We have the tales of Samson, and his exploits with Delilah. We have Solomon, David, and all of their goings on. In all of this, God does not abandon. Rather God aids to fulfill God’s will and puts our human foibles to God’s purposes, in the Trinity.
At the same time, we have the examples of those who strive to put things right in the face of mistakes.
We have the account of Peter, whose life of faith seasawed more than a child in a park. He claimed that Jesus was the Messiah, however, his notoriety doesn’t end there. He also denied knowing Christ when the Sanhedrin interrogated Christ; and he was reinstated to Christ’s favour on the shores of the sea of Tiberius as his breakfast curdles in his stomach and Jesus asks three times “Do you love me?”
And we have those who come late to the game, such as Paul, who once persecuted the followers of ‘the way,’ and in the end, provided us with the majority of the writings that fills the New Testament.
We are surrounded, in our lives, of faith by examples, both those found in the pages of the bible, no matter where we turn, but also in our lives of faith. Examples from those who came before.
I had a great conversation with someone this week, who pondered the fortitude and the courage that it took for her forbearers to emigrate from Europe and settle themselves in Manitoba, especially with children in tow.
This is the same kind of courage and fortitude in and for our lives that we are able to find in the pages of the bible. We find it in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in the teachings of Jesus, and in the encouragement of God, we find it looking back at us from the mirror each morning, as well.
This is the same kind of courage and fortitude it takes to walk a trail, a path, a hike that we aren’t fully familiar with what we’re expecting to find, yet we travel the world over looking for new sights, and new experiences in God’s creation. This is the same courage, and fortitude that it takes to live within the nature of the Trinity,