+In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
It is important to me to always start my sermons this way, inviting the Holy Trinity into my mind and speech as I begin, but this morning, it is a bit more meaningful, as it is Trinity Sunday.
The Sunday that dooms all seminarians, interns and newly formed priests…maybe even those who have been in ministry for a while. The Sunday where we often try to explain the doctrine of the Trinity. The belief in One God in Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
But in trying to avoid the label of a heretic, I will adhere to the belief that the Trinity is a Holy mystery; one that can be gazed upon in adoration but never fully understood. Today’s readings give us glimpses, however, of how the three persons of the trinity are held in relationship. The gospel, through the words of Jesus, makes it known that the Holy Spirit is the revealer of God’s truth: The truth that was born out of creation and delivered to us in the bodily form of Jesus.
And so we begin at creation with the reading from Proverbs, with Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, calling out from the middle of a busy world, telling of her presence at the beginning of creation. Not only her presence, but her delight and joy in the creation. I can’t help but imagine her dancing as she rejoiced in God’s work, her exuberance spilling out into the world.
Perhaps this is a consequence of the many commentaries describing the three persons of the Trinity engaged in a dance – a dance in which they are in perfect sync with each other and the rhythm, as they weave themselves in and out, blurring their individual persons into one being. A harmonious relationship in which there is mutual giving and receiving, the perfect example of Love. It is in God’s beautiful creation that this love is expressed, and Wisdom is calling out for us to recognize it.
Kathryn Matthews, a UCC pastor, remarked, “right from the beginning, we’re told, Lady Wisdom was in on the elegant beauty and the rightness and the purpose of everything God made, so she must understand how it all works, or how it should work.”1 Wisdom saw and was witness to the world, to humanity as God intended, and she is filled with joy and delight.
This is echoed in today’s psalm as the psalmist repeatedly praises God for creation, wondering how blessed we are to be a part of it. From the moon and the stars, to the wild beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea.
But as my spiritual director reminds me, in order to see and appreciate God’s creation, I have to stop what I am doing and actually experience it. It is too easy to just walk past it in a hurry to get somewhere else. What delights and joys am I missing in the rush of daily life? Barbara Brown Taylor wrote in An Altar in the World, “The easiest practice of reverence I know, is simply to sit down somewhere outside, preferably near a body of water, and pay attention for at least twenty minutes. It is not necessary to take on the whole world at first. Just take the three square feet of earth on which you are sitting, paying close attention to everything that lives within that small estate.” This a great reminder that I don’t have to travel to end of the Earth to be inspired by God’s creation; it is in my own backyard, on the streets surrounding us and also in the person sitting next to us. Recently there was a video going around where people were asked to sit face to face with a family member or a stranger and to look into the other person’s eyes for 4 minutes or so. Everyone felt increased intimacy after the 4 minutes, just by sitting and looking at the other person. One husband who had been married to his wife for 55 years, commented, “When I look at you really closely, I realize how much I need you and what you mean to me, because that’s the truth. I couldn’t imagine being with anybody else.”2 I believe it is the same when we take the time to look deep into the eyes of creation. We recognize our need for God and the importance of God in our lives, being filled with joy and delight.
Trinity Sunday provides an opportunity to stand still, at least for a little while, and perceive God’s grace at work in creation, to reflect on God’s love made flesh and living among us, and to give thanks for God’s Spirit, whose power sustains us right here and now, in this beautiful but hurting world.
It is a hurting world.
In today’s reading of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he acknowledges this fact, saying that not only do we boast in our hope of sharing the Glory of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we also boast in our sufferings.
In both cases, boasting does not equate to bragging, but to anticipation. We should anticipate suffering. And not just a little suffering, but suffering which will produce endurance, develop our character, and ultimately lead us to hope.
I have seen the suffering world; I, too, have felt the pain of grief and sorrow. But I have also been witness to the endurance built up out of suffering. It is in times of tragedy that communities come together to help one another. Are we not of better character when we work WITH one another? When we remember the pain of suffering and use that memory to hope and work for a better future?
Hope for a better world, a more peaceful world, where health, joy, and the love of God abounds. A hope that is quenched by God’s love for us, poured out in the renewing waters of Baptism, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, and into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.