Sermon by Rev Sydney Maitland for Sunday 16 June 2019.
Among the memories of my mis-spent youth, I recall a long and rather unprofitable engagement with quadratic equations. It was a tedious affair and on leaving school I have no recollection of having – knowingly – met one in the street, or more to the point having used one in my work as a town planner.
This branch of mathematics was essentially pointless and of no practical value.
For many the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is little different and has engaged many learned persons in the writing of many learned books on the mysteries of God: Three in One and One in Three.
And while this understanding of God is indeed illuminating, trying to capture it and to summarize it is rather like trying to capture a rainbow in a jam jar.
In this sense we need to start again, and this time to start with God, who before creation had even been thought about, thought out loud and the thought was the person of Wisdom.
This was the will of God expressed and communicated, and the very act of communication was itself an exercise in love and in giving voice to His own will and purposes. When God spoke, things happened and that word of God was a word of action.
And so Wisdom was begotten, before all else. And so Wisdom rejoiced in the presence of God. Wisdom gave form to the will of God, for in creating the world, God spoke forth and it was done.
Wisdom was intimate with God, rejoicing and delighting in Him, but seeing the whole of creation and where it was going
Wisdom was the first begetting of God – the voice that desired and designed creation.
It was all done in due order and at the end it was all very good. In this Wisdom even saw the cross that was yet to come. And still the whole of creation was very good.
Just as in Wisdom, God poured Himself into creation, so also did Wisdom come to redeem it, and was born of Mary.
He came, He spoke, He healed and blessed and taught. Finally, in Jesus, the Wisdom of God died and rose again. He was personal, intimate, and now wholly human.
If Wisdom saw the cross of Jesus, in Jesus Wisdom was crucified in love for the creation that she had breathed out.
But the job not yet done, for Jesus would remain with the disciples in the Holy Spirit. He would be as personally committed to them in His ascension as He had been during His ministry.
Jesus was still intimate with them, still suffering with them, longing for their prayers, and rejoicing in their worship and dedication. Patient in their sins and sorrows, proud of their steadfastness.
The Holy Spirit was the gift of God to the disciples and in them and through them to all who believed in the message of Jesus. Take away Jesus and the Holy Spirit cannot be present.
The Holy Spirit is as personal as Jesus and as God Himself. He does not rejoice and dance in the presence of institutions, of committee minutes or standing orders. These things may be necessary for an organization to function, but they do not give live to a body that is dead.
So the Trinity is not like a newspaper crossword, or a puzzle to be solved – it is a mystery to be lived and a fellowship to be shared.
It was never an academic treatise or the preserve of the knowledgeable: it was always a reality and a truth for those who are wise in the sight of God.
It is there for those who despite themselves will give themselves to God. Despite all sins and sorrows, all regrets and confusions.
It is there in Jesus’ prayer for the disciples in John 17, and in it we are all caught up into fellowship in the Living God.
Jesus never said that the special gift of God to His disciples was only for the learned and the academically initiated. Rather the Holy Spirit was going to draw the disciples closer together and closer to Jesus, and hence closer to the Fatherhood of God.
This would be a baptism into glory and wonder, but also into the sorrows and sufferings of the cross. He would lead them through the pains of rejection and persecution, of the costs of discipleship and of bearing witness to Jesus in all parts of the world.
He would lead them in the steps that Jesus had Himself trod. IN this the church would be wrapped around and undergirded in the love of God Himself.
Even when times stood against them the church would find that all aspects of God were with them: the Father who creates, the Son who redeems and the Holy Spirit who draws them into the presence of God, as if they were ever going to be apart from it.