Sunday, June 19, 2011

Trinity 2011A: We are the crossroads


En el nombre del Dios - Padre, Hijo y Espiritu Santo. Amen.

As we begin our contemplation of the Trinity, I offer you this prayer:

“God of delight,
your Wisdom sings your Word
at the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet.
Invite us into your joyful being
where you know and are known
in each beginning,
in all sustenance,
in every redemption,
that we may manifest your unity
in the diverse ministries you entrust to us,
truly reflecting your triune majesty
in the faith that acts,
in the hope that does not disappoint,
and in the love that endures. Amen.”


The mystery of the Trinity is fun to think about but its power to transform us happens only when we enter it, dwell in it, and let it dwell in us. Entering the mystery of the triune God means being powerless and vulnerable, which isn’t very appealing. But in the hands of our God who is Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, we are safe to be both. In fact, we are called to be both – to trust and submit to the loving care of the Almighty.

When we immerse ourselves in the mystery of the Trinity, we discover that the truth of the Trinity is easy to find. It’s so nearby it’s hard to imagine we didn’t see it sooner. That’s because the truth of the mystery of the Trinity can be found right here in our incarnate bodies and right here in our faith community.

In Genesis we hear that we are made in the image of God. Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard in our Gospel readings that we (the church) are also the dwelling places of God. Think about that - God chooses to be present in us. The first person of the Trinity, the progenitor and birther of all that is, chooses to dwell in us – in our bodies and in our community.

Jesus, the second person of the Trinity, made the love and presence of God manifest in real and tangible ways on the earth, and showed us how we can do the same. Inviting people who were exiled from the communities of earth into a heavenly community, Jesus commanded us to keep doing this work – baptizing ALL people in the name of the Triune God, making them family, and teaching them to love as Jesus loved.

And the Holy Spirit of God, the advocate the world can’t perceive, but we can because we believe, is the very presence of God that dwells in us. Jesus meant it when he said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Spirit of the Triune God is in us and makes us holy, that is, set apart for a purpose. The Spirit of God is in us and compels us uncover and set free the holiness of God in everyone we meet. When someone looks at us, do they see the love of God looking back? They can – if we choose to let the Spirit of God that dwells in us greet the Spirit of God that dwells in them.

This is not magic or a spiritual trick – it’s an act of faith. Have you ever walked around just smiling at everyone you meet? How do people react? They don’t trust it. They look at you like your crazy… or dangerous.

But we’re not crazy or dangerous. We are the crossroads where humanity and divinity meet because the Spirit of God dwells in us. When we look at someone, we invite them into our personal space and, therefore, into the presence of God. For a moment, we may feel vulnerable, but trusting God who dwells in us and in them, we welcome them and greet them like family does – with a holy kiss. This isn’t necessarily an actual kiss (though it can be). A holy kiss is a gentle invitation to come into contact with the divine who dwells in us. No Bible thumping, no coercion – just a holy kiss.

Since its Trinity Sunday, I’ll incorporate today’s Anglo-fact into my sermon. In the Episcopal Church, membership and full incorporation happen at Baptism. There are no covenants to sign, and only two dogmas, that is, two things you HAVE to believe: 1) that God is Trinity in Unity, and 2) that our salvation is in Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, who is fully human and fully divine.

These two dogmas are found in our Prayer Book in the text of the Quicunque Vult (also known as the Athanasian Creed) in the Historical Documents section on page 864. The Trinitarian dogma is found beginning at the fourth line down: And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. What follows then is a comprehensive explanation of what that means concluding with the dogmatic statement: He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

The second dogmatic statement follows the short break in the text and begins with: Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the rest of the prayer explains what that means.

We have lots of other doctrines (that is, teachings), but only these two dogmas are held as necessary for salvation. As my seminary professor of Theology used to say: “You can be dogmatic about dogma, but not about anything else.” That leaves us free to listen faithfully to the living God who continues to reveal God’s self to the church.

Theologian John Baxter sums it up like this:
In essentials, unity;
in non-essentials, liberty
in all things, charity.

Our readings today, in the context of a Holy Eucharist, offer us the opportunity to open ourselves to this revelation. The Genesis reading recounts the story of God who creates. The Gospel clarifies the authority of the Incarnate One who first created the crossroads of humanity and divinity. And the Epistle outlines for the Christian community its holy purpose: Live in peace… Live in the grace of Jesus Christ…, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit. That is our holy purpose. Let everyone know that we are family, who in our diversity, can live in unity. Let God who dwells in us greet God who dwells in everyone we meet.

I close with a prayer to the Trinity:

God, whose fingers sculpt sun and moon
and curl the baby's ear;
Spirit, brooding over chaos
before the naming of day;
Savior, sending us to earth's ends
with water and words:
startle us with the grace, love, and communion
of your unity in diversity,
that we may live to the praise of your majestic name. Amen.


1. Rev. Robert D. Hughes, III., Class notes, Introduction to Christian Doctrine, January 27, 2004.
2. Robert Backhouse, A Feast of Anglican Spirituality (The Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1998), 98.

No comments: