Sermon by Rev Sydney Maitland for Sunday 12 June 2022.
• First Reading: Proverbs 8: 1-4, 22-31 (The call of Wisdom)
• Psalm 8
• Epistle: Romans 5: 1-5 (Justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ)
• Gospel: John 16: 12-15 (The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth)
One of the most intriguing aspects of Trinity Sunday is that it revolves around the person of God and of Him alone.
There is no aspect of today’s celebration by which we find for ourselves some kind of personal or theological benefit. There are no shepherds or kings to wonder at the birth of the Christ-child, there are no miracles of parables or incidents in the life of Jesus to inspire us or to lead us into deeper prayer. There is no death, atonement or resurrection.
There is no social or political or cultural agenda, no lens of social or racial or economic or environmental justice through which the church can look for some kind of pay-back or benefit.
No, Trinity is wholly about God, in and of Himself. And while we can draw together images of the shamrock, or three-legged stools, or of engines, driveshafts and wheels, and yes these can be helpful, even these end up with us imposing some kind of agenda on our understanding of the Trinity and our response to it.
In this sense we are left with our own partial understandings and with the wholeness of the Glory of God.
Part of the issue is that we want to impose our understanding on a mystery like a straightjacket, and then to pigeon-hole it for later use and consideration when the inclination strikes us.
But even then we are only reducing the godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to the triviality of our own intellectual powers and perceptions.
One approach to the mystery is not to try to reduce it to our proportions at all. Instead of analysing it, we come to receive it.
We all grew up with Father, Son and Holy Spirit and for a long time we were content with that. God was the creator, maker of heaven and earth, in all things pre-eminent, and yet who communicated with His prophets, priests, law-givers, kings and all who looked for direction in personal life or public policy.
God was One whom we held in common with other religious systems although the character and demands of our God soon diverged from other traditions. And yes, some have sought to conflate Him with Great Spirits, and the deities of other peoples.
Jesus was and is the One whom God has given so that we may see and hear Him more directly, whose role in recorded history is established and who interacted directly and personally with His followers in the earth.
The Holy Spirit is the One who represents Jesus to us, in every part of the world and at any time, season or year.
Yet the whole of God is the total love and commitment of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to one another and their perfect will and love as they are centred on one another before other considerations.
Their interactions with one another are far more than their interactions are with us. There is no place for confusion or doubt since knowledge of fact and purpose are complete and perfect.
And if we cannot comprehend this with our minds, then this is no great surprise. We cannot expect the counsels of the Godhead to conform to our limited understandings any more than we would expect to devise plans for the administration of government using the vocabulary and understanding of a five-year-old, no matter how intelligent.
But just as we may look at a picture again and again, and see different things in it, or maybe listen to a piece of music and hear something new each time, without exhausting the harmony, so we may also dare to continue contemplating the nature and glory of God, not desiring to possess or to control – only seeking to behold and receive whatever we can.
And so we enter the mystery of the God the Holy Trinity.