A sermon for the First Sunday after Pentecost: Trinity Sunday
May 28, 2023
The Rev. Mark Nabors, Vicar
Readings: Genesis 1:1-2:4a; II Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate and acknowledge that we serve and worship a triune God, three in one, one in three: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God. The Trinity is not just a way we seek to understand God. Rather, the Trinity is Who God is in God’s very Being, as revealed in Holy Scripture and through tradition.
Consider our reading from Genesis. There we see all three Persons present. The Father, who orders all things. The Son is there, too, although he is not called the Son. The other name for the Son is the Word–the very Word that speaks all things into being, moment by moment. Finally, we see the Spirit, or ruach in Hebrew. Ruach can also be translated as breath or wind. The Spirit, or wind from God as Genesis says, hovers over the waters at the beginning of creation.
We see the Trinity present in the reading from II Corinthians. This passage commonly called the Grace, says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” All three, present and accounted for.
And, of course, we see the Trinity in our gospel reading, as Jesus ascends into heaven. He says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” Unlike in Genesis where we must analyze the text to see all three Persons of the Godhead, Jesus reveals the language of the Trinity to us.
Perhaps more than any other mystery of the faith, the Trinity has the potential to lull us to sleep, to make us ask who cares, and to engender some misunderstandings about God’s Nature. The Trinity isn’t an easy concept to grasp–after all, God is no concept to be grasped at all, but the fullness of reality beyond our grasping. We can err too far on one side or the other–overemphasizing the differences in the Persons to the point of making them sound like three gods instead of one, or overemphasizing the unity in the Persons to the point of making it seem like there aren’t three separate Persons at all. Too much of that theologizing, and we walk away confused, and frustrated, or maybe just ambivalent about it all.
But it’s important because it is about who God is. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three distinct Persons, a community of perfect, self-giving love. And God is one: One in power, one in glory, one in majesty, one in love. It is in this three-in-one, one-in-three God that we live, and move, and have our being.
This past Wednesday, I announced that Molly and I will be moving to St. Luke’s in Hot Springs this summer. My last Sunday with you will be July 16. God is calling me to serve as their rector after four wonderful years as your vicar. Molly and I are so thankful for our time with you, for your friendship, for your love and kindness shown to us. You will always, always, hold a very special place in our hearts. While we are excited about what God has in store in a new place, we are still brokenhearted, and we leave a piece of our hearts behind with you. But we all must follow where the Spirit leads, in joy and in sorrow, trusting in the grace of God. That’s what we are seeking to do.
Here is what the mystery of the Holy Trinity has to say to us today: Our God is not one who is so high that he cannot be touched, so lofty that he does not care for us. No, our God is One who is ever-present, closer than our own breath. Our God is One who has taken on our flesh and understands our sorrow, our anxiety, our frustration, our worry. Our God is One who fills us with his very Spirit, who strengthens us and carries us by that Spirit, and who will never abandon us. Our God is the One in whom we live, and move, and have our being. And not only us as individuals, but also us as the Body of Christ at St. Peter’s/St. Alban’s. I am just one in a long succession of faithful priests who have had the honor of serving our Lord here, just as you are only one in a long succession of faithful lay persons who have had the honor of serving our Lord here. We can trust that even in transition, our God is with us, lifting us, supporting us all the day long. As we turn the page to see the next chapter in this parish, we remember that the priest is not the main character in the story. Nor are you. God, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, is the main character in the story of this church family. We serve God, we trust God, we seek to be faithful to God, and we follow where God leads.
In his play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare wrote those oft quoted words: “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.” This life is full of goodbyes, and those goodbyes come with sorrow, often sweet sorrow. We say goodbye to places and people; goodbye to jobs and communities; and in the end, goodbye to life on this mortal plane. Goodbyes hurt, even if there is sweetness in them.
Molly and I feel that sweet sorrow: sweetness, as we look with joy and anticipation at what is to come in following God’s call, but also deep sorrow, because we love all of you more than we can say. But even as we transition, we remember that we are simply moving to a different part of the same Body. And while we may part for a time, we know that we never say goodbye forever, but only for now. We will all arise on that promised morrow, as eternity eclipses time, as the Son of God descends to establish the Kingdom, as the One in whom we live and move and have our being fully and perfectly envelopes us in that loving Totality. Together, on that morrow, goodbyes shall cease, and with them their sorrow; and we shall rise with alleluias on our tongue.
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