Sermon

Trinity - Pentecost 1 - Year C

2010-05-30
St. James's Episcopal Church
The Rev. Robert G. Hetherington
The Fullness of God
Today is Trinity Sunday. We celebrate the fullness of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Last Sunday was Pentecost when we celebrated the pouring out of God’s Holy Spirit. Today it is as though the church is putting an exclamation point on the complete revelation of God: God is three persons of one substance – one God but three expressions of that God. The Trinity is a mystery but it suggests that there are different ways that we can experience God. It also suggests that God is a community of persons. The Nicene Creed which we say each Sunday in worship gives us a context for understanding the experience of God.

The creed begins: “We believe in one God the Father . . . . of heaven and earth . . .” God is the creator of all life. Life is a gift from God. Our lives are gifts from God. Reflect on the gift of your life. The freedom you have; the relationships which are important to you. Each new day brings a new adventure. I believe the faith journey begins out of a sense of gratitude for the gift of life. When we receive a gift it is important to thank the giver. God is the author and creator of all things.

Because God is the creator of all things we need to be good stewards of God’s creation. We are responsible for the environment. We need to protect it for generations to come. We need to make good decisions about how to use the earth’s resources so we protect the environment from unintended negative consequences – the British Petroleum oil spill being the immediate case in point.

The Son. Jesus is the bridge person. The one who stands between heaven and earth. God loves us so much that God becomes one of us. If we want to know the true nature of God all we have to do is look at Jesus. He is fully God and fully human.
As a human being Jesus serves as the great example of how we are meant to live. Jesus is the one who gave and gave and never counted the cost. Eventually he gave his life away when He died on the cross. Yet at that moment God worked God’s greatest miracle. God raised Jesus from the dead. This was God’s exclamation point on a life well lived.

Jesus lived a life of generosity and sacrifice. We are called by God to live the same way. We may choose to live our lives in order to satisfy our own needs. However the deep meaning lies in the other direction. Jesus said: “ He who would save his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will save it.” We discover the deep meaning when we live lives of generosity and sacrifice – when we give our lives away.

Jesus is also the one who saves us from our sins. We need a savior. Human perversity runs deep. St. Paul put it this way: “The good that I would do I do not and the evil I would not do, I do.” We cannot get it right. We are full participants in the sin and brokenness of the world. We stand in need of forgiveness. Jesus is the one who redeems us. His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sin and offered us the gift of new life. All we have to do is accept it. We are saved by the grace of God. There is nothing we can do to earn salvation. This is another reason why our hearts should be full of gratitude.

The Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit enables us to carry on God’s work in the world. Never underestimate the power of the forces of darkness. They are strong. It takes the power of God working through us to bring healing to our city, the nation and the world. I remember doing civil rights work in the 1960s. It looked like we could bring in the kingdom when we picketed and demonstrated. But the forces of darkness were much more intractable than we thought. My colleagues and I became frustrated and overwhelmed by the problems we faced. We became disillusioned. Eventually we burned out. We had stopped saying our prayers. We ignored the spiritual practices which could renew us. Creating a world of justice and peace is an enormous challenge. None of us have the personal resources to make it happen but the power of God working through us can do great things. The Holy Spirit can push back the darkness of the world.

The Nicene Creed is a summary of our Christian faith. It has been used through the generations as an affirmation of faith in worship. It gives us a place to stand in a confusing world. We don’t have to invent faith for ourselves. Tradition represents the wisdom of experience. Through the ages in the church the various experiences of God are summarized in the Trinity. God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Let me close this morning with two questions:
1. How would you describe your experience of God?
2. How has this experience changed you and changed those around you?
Stay close to these questions. Does the concept of the Trinity help you with your answers?