Trinity Sunday 30th May 2010

Proverb s 8:1-4, 22-31; Psalm 8; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-16

30 May 2010 Trinity Sunday Vanderbilt Divinity Library Lectionary

Trinity Sunday 30 May 2010 Textweek

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen

Trinity Sunday takes us into the ‘green season’ of the Church year. Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter and Pentecost have given us opportunities to encounter the Divine, to know God and to know ourselves in the light of God. Now, we come to the Sundays after Pentecost (what used to be called ‘Ordinary Time’) and that gives us an opportunity to grow into the realisation (into the making real) of all that we have encountered through the seasons.

Trinity Sunday is perhaps placed where it is to give us a bumper sticker for the journey ahead:
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
It serves as a reminder of where we have been: the gift of the Father – Christmas, the gift of the Son – Easter and the gift of the Spirit – Pentecost. And the doctrine of the Trinity also serves to introduce us to some of the more abstract associations that can be formative in our understanding of God and of ourselves – the relational dynamics of the Trinity, the integration of three in one, the Diversity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - held in unity.

If we want to go on a more detailed study we might even get into the ‘Spiritual Physics’ that can lead us into even more questions about the nature of our very being: we come across such concepts as procession, hypostasis (three hypostasis in one ousia), homoousios, filioque. It all gets very complicated.

Rublev (14c) translated the Doctrine of the Trinity into an Icon. Or did Rublev translate the three visitors who came to Abraham into an Icon, into an image that would be later seen as an image of the Trinity. This is a wonderful movement away from a rational, doctrinal understanding into a contemplative ‘understanding’ of Scriptures. Google can do that for us today, giving us a digital gateway, another form of ‘icon’ that can lead us into 2000 years of Trinitarian history and again, like the icon, lead us, draw us into places of further understanding....

As we go ‘beyond the Church’, as we as a community see us as built and building ‘beyond the Church’, we might speculate for ourselves and begin to explore our understanding in the present of the Trinity. What is our apprehension of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the now, rather than from history? Copernicus and Galileo went ‘beyond the Church’ as they looked at the reflection of reality in the Scriptures and sought to find understanding, a harmony between the Word of God and the reality of life. Galileo was so far “Beyond the Church’ it took them till 31 October 1992 to catch up. It’s a wonderful image of where we might be going and where we might go. As we speak and speculate with our own voice – seeking, and growing beyond the confines of the past, so we might discover ourselves “a little lower than God and crowned with glory and honour”. Bumper stickers go out of date very quickly – Kevin 07. The Word of God endures forever.

If we seek to realise ourselves as “crowned with Divine Glory’, then we must bring into the present, into the light of the present, the gift of the Scriptures, discover the immediacy of the Divine Word, rather than leave it echoing a past age. If we encounter God as father, and only as Father, we will realise ourselves as Children, and only as children. NOW is the green season, the season of growing, of learning and of becoming. Now we should seek to identify our relationship, seek to integrate the dynamic of Divine diversity and find ourselves - not others - find ourselves with “God’s grace poured into our hearts’.

The readings today, the readings every day, give us some wonderful threads to re-weave the theological threads of the past, to reweave the very fabric of the Trinity. Proverbs tells of wisdom, the first of God’s creation [v23]’ ‘Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.’ Where is she, this master worker who was with God at the beginning? Where is she, a voice, a cry to all who believe [v30]? Where is she held in the Trinity?

Romans speaks of life’s dynamic, it gives us some examples of ‘cause and effect’, examples that we would readily relate to, ‘since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God’ suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. The reading from Romans opens us to consider the movement from and the movement toward, to look for the arrows that give direction and movement to our life. What are the cause and effects that have shaped our journey, what are the cause and effects that we embark upon and embrace that shape the journey of others? What is our movement from and what is it toward?

John’s gospel once more tells us of the Trinity. The text is in the voice of the Son, speaking of the Father, and of how Glory will be found in the Spirit, a Spirit that will “guide you into all truth”. They all give us questions -the Trinity is there in each of the readings. In Romans we’re told of an outpouring of the Spirit, an outpouring of the Divine such that we are filled with the same. Where is that outpouring filling ourselves? The Spirit will guide you into all truth’: where are we guided by the Trinity? What light does it shed on the path of our tomorrow?

The Trinity opens us to question; it invites us to question. Rather than receive a bumper-sticker from someone else, from a past age, the Trinity asks questions of us. Rublev was able to look to an Old Testament scripture, and to capture from the past, from a very ancient text, a very modern understanding in his age of the integration of the old and the new, an understanding of the Divine no longer from above, but seated at the table sharing a meal with humanity - an outpouring of the Spirit, a movement from the ancient pages of scripture into the moment that is our lives. How do we discover this movement? By allowing ourselves to be questioned and to ask questions. It’s the very movement that we expect of our children; we know each question they ask will take them one step further toward their maturity. We can’t answer all their questions but as parents we delight in their asking because we know they are seeking, they are searching.

If we sit quietly with God the Father then we sit as unquestioning children, denying life, denying growth, denying that we are a little lower than God. As we go into the green season - and we’ve got between now and Advent, so we’ve got time – and in that time we should seek to realise, through questioning, all that we have encountered in Christmas, in Easter, in Pentecost. There is a movement from being children of the Father, a realisation to be found that we are a little lower than God. ‘Greater things than these you will do.’ As we grow through the season of the Sundays after Pentecost, let us seek in ourselves and each other that crown of glory that makes each and all of us a little lower than God.

The Lord be with you.
Peter Humphris