Mother Katherine’s sermon preached on May 26, 2024

Posted by on Sun, May 26, 2024 in Season after Pentecost, Sermons, Trinity Sunday

The First Sunday after Pentecost:
Trinity Sunday

May 26, 2024

From the words of the prophet Isaiah, let us pray. 

“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 
‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ 
And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’” 

                                Here we are Lord; send us!    Amen.

God is alive in creating, redeeming and sustaining. Present in us and with us, even when we ignore God. It’s why at times our concluding blessing is in the name of God Almighty, Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, emphasizing God’s lively active presence in us. That’s not to abandon the words of understanding many of us grew up with either, that of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). From the beginning people have sought to understand and explain the Holy Trinity in ways others and ourselves can enter into it. (In my dad’s day clergy joked about it being “Pop, Spook and Junior”!) 

Our Trinitarian creed uses terms beloved since the Councils of 325 and 381 c.e., and our Prayerbook helpfully separates it into three distinct paragraphs – just in case we missed it.  The Nicene Creed (and the Apostle’s Creed) are statements of our basic beliefs about God, and as with others it was written to resolve conflicts about doctrine. In Greek the word ‘creed’ is a σύμβολον, symbolon, which meant half of a broken object. When fitted to the other half, verified the bearer’s identity. Later when translated into Latin it was a token, or mark, an outward sign of something, in this case (thanks to Cyprian of Carthage) it was the “mark” that distinguished Christians from pagans. Hence, the “outward sign” of something. Even now, centuries later, we stumble with parts of our creeds and forget to consider looking to them for our trinitarian sense of God. 

Frederick Buechner suggests understanding by looking in the mirror; “There is the interior life known only to yourself and those you choose to communicate it to (the Father). There is the visible face which in some measure reflects that inner life (the Son). And there is the invisible power you have in order to communicate that interior life in such a way that others do not merely know about it, but know it in the sense of its becoming part of who they are (the Holy Spirit). Yet what you are looking at in the mirror is clearly and indivisibly the one and only You.”

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, speak of the mystery beyond us, the mystery among us, and the mystery within us; yet all the same mystery. (Buechner again.) In this way the Trinity says something about us and the way we experience God. Mystery beyond, among, and within us–– something that we participate in and engage with, not something to be explained away or defined in a singular verbatim set of answers. 

In a way Nicodemus sounds like he wants the understand faith like this, he’d like to nail down the right words and put it in his pocket and always be certain to know it. Done. I don’t think that’s what he’s after deep down, or why not ask in the daytime? It’s why Nicodemus is the Patron Saint of the Curious; particularly those curious about Jesus! Nicodemus wants to believe and yet like most of us, he struggles. He’s clear about Jesus coming from God, but that clarity is only from the neck up. He seeks a fullness of another sort, one he cannot quite ask for even. Jesus says, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Which further confuses poor Nicodemus. How’s that?! You enter the kingdom of God by being born of water and Spirit, Jesus tells him.  We can only fully grasp it by experiencing it, being all in, by living it wholly. 

Your experience of God may be different. Perhaps broader, deeper, richer, —or newer, uncertain, evolving. So think about how these are not just interrelated for you, but how they are one God, and one for all of us, for the world. Some 1600 years ago St. Augustine wrote about the Trinity of the lover, the beloved, and the love that exists between them. “Now love is of someone who loves, and something is loved with love.  Lover, Beloved, and the Love.”  

The Trinity of God is both distinct and entirely relational, not separate finite entities. That doesn’t make it obvious or immediately clear to us, even when we are in the midst of that love Augustine so well describes. I think most of us are more like Nicodemus, coming to his faith step by small step, curious and questioning. We find our way in relationships of love and trust, in witness and experiences of God, by holding our hearts open and available instead of protected and shuttered against disappointment. The Spirit moves in us to grow near —and yes, we will stall or get lost, only to be drawn back by God whose very identity is to love.

Let’s go back in time. Let’s go back to the beginning together. Genesis tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. Scientists tell us that each of the individual elements that make up our organic life — the life in our bodies — came into existence because of a supernova-like explosion. This explosion had to be occur at exactly the right speed and a force under the right conditions for our earth to evolve as a separate planet. Just one electron off, and none of us would be here. One Episcopal priest wrote, “If that’s a coincidence, then I must agree with those who say, coincidences are simply God’s way of remaining anonymous.”

He [Adams] wonders how one would ever learn of God if not for another person of the very same God in Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ. He shares this vignette, which at first sounded a bit confusing so bear with me. “A little boy was heard answering the phone. It was someone wanting to talk with his mother. The little boy said to the person on the other end, I’m sorry sir, my mother is [on a trip]. Then the child went on to say, the twins, Jimmy, Jane, Bobby, Susan, the Dog, Dad and me are here all alone.”

We’re all here, but we’re all alone. His anchor is missing. God answers in the Word become flesh for us, and at our best we embody him. The Word lives among us such that all encompassing God’s nature will become his nature. God said, ‘Let it be so‘ and it happened just like that some 2,000 years ago.

In the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost, the fiery Spirit of God lit up the universe with the power of love, and the same God gives us unexpected glimpses of glory in the Aurora Borealis, and the God who invites us to the Lord’s Table week after week, who shows us the way by his self-giving; taken, blessed, broken and given.

In our reading from the prophet Isaiah the six-winged seraphs call to each other saying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Hear it echoed in the hymn. Join me—

Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty! 
All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty! 
God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!

Amen.

© 2024 The Rev. Katherine Sedwick. All rights reserved. Posted with permission.

Post will be removed at 8:00 AM on Tue., May. 26, 2026.