Trinity Sunday by Matthew David Morris

Trinity Sunday Whole

Lessons:

Isaiah 6:1-8

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

Psalm 29


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

 
“No person ever steps in the same river twice,” the philosopher, Heraclitus,
said a long, long time ago, “for it’s not the same river and they are not the
same person.

 
As a field education student, I came to Grace Memorial with questions –
some philosophical, some practical – as well as the hope to learn something
about what it means to be a priest. In the past 9 months, the time it takes to
hatch a new human being: I have preached, right here; I have processed,
carrying the cross, the torches, the paschal candle, and the church banner; I
have carried the Gospel to be read, and I have read the Gospel aloud, in
Spanish, among a cacophony of Pentecost voices; I have dressed up like an
angel and danced with the children; I have made meals for our houseless
friends and neighbors, and I have served around this table; I have listened
to the anxieties of this community, and the hopes of this community, and
the joys of this community; and, I have had the true and unexpected
pleasure of joining a small group of pilgrims on a journey to Jesus’ own
homeland.

 
Standing here today, looking out at all of you, I can say that I am not the
same man that I was when I first walked through those red doors.

 
Now, I’ve been told that everyone just has one sermon that they preach. Lay
or clergy, no matter what Sunday that it is, it’s just one . I thought when I
came here I knew what my one sermon was. I thought I had it down. I
thought it was a sermon about justice, or about challenging systems of
domination, of proclaiming Beloved Community in the name of Jesus.
But now, I don’t think the real one sermon that is at the core of a Christian
heart is one that they choose for themself. It’s not about what aligns best
with their political views. It’s not necessarily one that they want to preach.
But it’s the sermon that they have to preach, because it is the one sermon.
Discovering how to preach that one sermon in your own voice is a process
of formation and discernment, and it begins I think – at least for me – with
an acute sense of uncertainty.

 
Nicodemus, is uncertain. Nicodemus has questions – some philosophical,
some practice. Nicodemus is attempting to situate Jesus and his teaching
into a clear, logical framework. He’s applying what seems like
straightforward and accurate science to Jesus’ metaphor.

 
       “You get born once, Jesus. Once. One time. What do you mean, ‘be
       born from above?’ How can this old body of mine – which I have
       subjected – mind you – to years of work, and stress, and the occasional
       indulgence – how can it be new again? How can this mind of mine –
       which has taken apart and inspected every precious story and belief
       and dream that was ever given to me by my mother, my grandmother,
       or my teachers – how can it see things new again?”

 
Jesus speaks poetry to Nicodemus, and Nicodemus simply doesn’t
understand how this poetry is logically coherent. Nicodemus wants it all to
make sense. And Jesus keeps pointing to the mystery.
Today is Trinity Sunday, which we might as well call “Mystery Sunday.”
This is a day that many preachers fear. And I’ll have you know, Martin – this
is the day that is notorious to give the seminarian Trinity Sunday. This is
the day. Give it to the Field Education Student. Have him explain the
greatest mystery in Christian doctrine. Sure. That’s great. And on his last
day.

 
Thank you, Martin.
That’s fine.

 
Elizabeth Johnson, in her book, Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal In
Christology, recounts this really beautiful story about St. Augustine and the
Trinity, which goes like this:

 
       So, St. Augustine was walking on the beach, trying to figure out the
       mystery of the Trinity. As he watched a little child with a pail trying to
       put the sea into a hole he had dug in the sand, Augustine said, “You
       cannot do that.” To this the child (actually an angel) replied, “Neither
       can you fit the mystery of the Trinity into your finite mind.”

 
Done. Sermon’s over. Done.

 
No. But there’s so much value in that. There’s so much value in that.
All language is symbol. Words are images meant to represent ideas, some of
which are too expansive to fully encapsulate in a series of letters are sounds.
Trinity is one such word. Triune God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This
language is symbol, which is not to say that it is not real. Rather, it is the
realest of the real — so real, in fact, that the holes we dig in the sand with
our logic-shovels and our rationality-pails cannot contain it.

 
But at the heart of this symbol of Trinity is an invitation into the mystery of
relationship.

 
God is calling us into relationship with God’s own relational nature.
We speak of God as three persons, undivided. God is at once the Creator of
all things, and the Redeemer of all things, and the Giver of Life to all things.
As Creator, God has made us. As Redeemer, God has walked with us. And
as Giver of Life, God is igniting a fire within us to speak a true word about
God’s love. Our very salvation is woven into this interconnection of
relationship.

 
God’s invitation into the mystery of relationship is not only what makes
salvation occur, but it is what makes community come to life.

 
Relationship, I have learned, is the foundation of Grace Memorial Episcopal
Church.

 
This sanctuary is made beautiful every week through relationship. The
hymns of praise and thanksgiving we sing are made majestic through
relationship. People of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds are fed, and
educated, and inspired, and challenged here every day of the week through
relationship. You might say that is what church is: it is about being in
faithful relationship with each other, so that we can be in faithful
relationship with God.

 
Nine months ago, when I accepted the call to be in relationship with this
community, I did not expect that the most important thing I would learn
during this time, both through Martin’s own example and through the
example and witness of the entire community, is the value of relationship.
But it’s undeniable. And, its trinitarian.

 
The ethic of relationship which says that my humanity is bound up in your
humanity, and our shared humanity is animated by the very God who made
all things and who suffers and celebrates with us — woo — that is an
affirmation of the Triune God. You might not think you that get the Trinity
(I don’t all the time), but I have learned that if you show up here, and if you
love one another and you love God, and if you respond to the presence of
God by sharing that love with the world, then you are living into the
Trinity. Just trust in that.

 
To be a Christian is to be in relationship with a relational God who is
eternally seeking relationship with us. To be a Christian is to follow God
into relationship with all those who are led by God’s spirit, in and outside of
the Church; all those who, by following God’s Spirit are, in Paul’s words,
“children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs
with Christ.”

 
Friends — Grace Memorial Episcopal Church — you do not need to know
with perfect certainty how to preach your one sermon in order to share the
good news that God loves you, that God has already saved you, and that
God is calling you to transform the world through the power of God’s own
loving, life-giving and liberating nature.

 
“Who will go for us?” God asks.
“Here I am,” we say.” “Send me.”

 
“Who will go for us?” God asks.
“Here I am,” we say.” “Send me.”

 
“Who will go for us?” God asks.
“Here I am,” we say.” “Send me.”

 
YES! You… you.. One more time:
“Who will go for us?” God asks.
“Here I am,” we say.” “Send me.”

 
That brought me here. And I don’t know where it’s going to lead you, I do
not know… I’m off book now…

 
I don’t know where God is leading you, but I know that God is calling you.
That is a true word.
I don’t know where God is leading you, but I know that God is calling you.

 
And I pray that you respond to call from God with courage. I pray that you
respond to God’s call with excitement, and imagination, and creativity, and
all of the talents that you have. And give them back to this community.
You’re already doing it! You are already living into that vision. I am so
excited to one day walk through those red doors again and discover how
God is continuing to move and work in this place.

 
It’s not about me being here. It’s not about Martin being here. It is about
the collective reality of this place. All of y’all.

 
The Lord will be praised.
Amen?
Amen.