Sermons 2003-2004

"O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004
Home | Christmas Eve A, "Are we really ready?", Luke 2: 1-20, 24 December 2004 | "Finally! Well, almost...." Advent 4A , 19 December 2004, Matthew 1:18-25 | Faith and Doubts, Advent 3A, 12 December 2004, Matthew 11:2-11 | John the Baptist, Advent 2A, 5 December 2004, Matthew 3:1-12 | Left Behind? Advent 1A, 28 Nov 2004, Matthew 24:37-44 | Some King of kings! Proper 29C, 21 November 2004, Luke 23:35-43 | "Not one thrown down", Proper 28C, 14 November 2004, Luke 21:5-19 | All Saints and for all the saints, 2004C, 31 October 2004, Luke 6:20-36 | The Lambeth Commission Windsor Report, the Pharisee, and the tax collector, Proper 25C, 24 Oct 2004 | "Lord, teach us to pray." Proper 20C, 17 October 2004, Genesis 32:3-8, 22-30; Luke 18:1-8a | "It's all in the choosing", Proper 23C, 10 October 2004, Ruth 1:1-19a; Luke 17:11-19 | "Increase our faith", Proper 22C, Luke 17:5-10, 3 October 2004 | Proper 21C 2004, 26 September 2004, "R&R: Response and Relationships", Luke 16:19-31 | Proper 19C 2004, 12 September 2004, "Lost and Found", Luke 15:1-10 | Proper 18C 2004, 5 September 2004, "Preaching or Meddling", Luke 14:25-33 | Proper 16C 2004, 22 August 2004, "The Narrow Gate ", Luke 13:22-30 | Proper 15C, 15 August 2004 | Proper 14C, 8 August 2004 | Proper 13C, 1 August 2004 | Shrinemont: "Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses", Proper 15c, 15 August 2004 | "Lord, teach us how to pray," Proper 12C, 25 July 2004, Genesis 18:20-33; Luke 11:1-13 | The Summary of the Law and the Good Samaritan: "Go and do likewise" Luke 10:25-37, 11 July 2004 | Independence Day 2004. "The Creative Tension of the Church: Who is to be included?" | "Now! Now! Now!", Proper 8C, 27 June 2004, Luke 9:51-62 | "Star Throwers", Proper 7C, 20 June 2004, Galatians 3:23-29; Luke 9:18-24 | The more things change the more they remain the same, Pentecost 2C, 13 June 2004 | "O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us." Trinity C, 6 June 2004 | "Come, Holy Spirit", Pentecost C , 30 May 2004 | "That they all may be one", Easter 7C, 23 May 2004 | The Holy Spirit: Paraclete, Pneuma, Ruach, Easter 6C 2004 | Agapate Allelous: Love beyond each other, Easter 5C 2004, 9 May 2004 | The Good Shepherd and the five people you meet in heaven, Easter 4C 2004 | "The God of the Second Chance -- and of many chances", Easter 3C, 25 April 2004 | Baptizatus Sum: I am baptized, Easter 2C 2004 | It is NOT an Idle Tale: Easter Sunday, 18 April 2004 | Palm Sunday-Passion Sunday Roller Coaster: What We Want or What We Need? | Who are the Wicked Tenants, Lent 5C 2004 | The Prodigal Son -- and so much more | God, the Gardener, and the Fig Tree | "The Hen and the Fox", Lent 2C | The Comfortable Rut of Ordinary Temptation | "Getting from Uh-oh to Aha", Luke 9:28-36, Epiphany Last C, 22 February 2004 | Jesus, Jeremiah, and the Beatitudes: What to Make of it All | The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon: God working in the world | Jesus, the Archbishop, and Annual Council The Dark Abyss of Schism | The Nature of Revelation: Jesus' Sermon at Nazareth | The Miracle at the Wedding in Cana | The King of kings and the Lion King | "The Magnificat, Watching, and Waiting" | "Gaudete in Domino semper: Rejoice in the Lord always" | A Voice crying in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of the Lord." | "Standing in the Day of Battle: Isabel and the Gospel" | Dogma, Doctrine, and the Theological Enterprise | The Little Apocalypse | Jesus and theWidow's Mite | One Priest's Response to the Election of Gene Robinson | The Great Commandment: Jesus Meant What He said | Who is blind? | Eyes on Jesus and minds on mission! | Tradition or Traditionalism? | Credo: Be doers of the Word and not hearers only." | Who do YOU say that I am? | "It's about Power and Winning" | Contact Wicomico Parish Church

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Trinity C 2004 John 16:5-15

Trinity Sunday presents us with a great challenge: how to understand that inside the enigma wrapped in a dilemma surrounding a puzzle there is a deep and profound mystery. So deep and profound that, at least for the present, humankind cannot understand, cannot know all there is to know about it, cannot do more than try to enter into the heart of that mystery.

From the beginning of time, humans have sought to understand God and their relationship with him. Even though the ancient Hebrews progressed in their understanding, aided by the revelations given to them over several thousand years, they didnt get it all at once. The many references to other gods and idol worship among the early chosen people at the time of the patriarchs suggest that they, like many primitive peoples, began in idolatry. Idolatry was a temptation to which many of them succumbed as late as King Solomon, who put the idols of his wives on the Temple Mount. And even later, idolatry remained a problem, as the record of the later kings suggests.

Even by the time of the Exodus, the Chosen people had not developed a full-blown monotheism. Old Testament scholars are generally agreed that they had reached a stage of monolatry that had its beginnings in the days of the Patriarchs, in which they generally worshipped one god, although that god was not always the living God whom we know as the golden calf story at the foot of Mount Sinai suggests.

But it is with the Sinai event -- the event of the first great divine revelation by God of himself in the powerful theophany before the people of Israel that the monotheism we know the faith in, worship of, and obedience to the one true God has its foundation. This was the moment when the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments were given.

And at the conclusion of this theophany, this divine revelation by God of himself, when all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, "You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die." Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you.

Over the next millennium, the Judaism into which Jesus was born developed into a full blown monotheism as the Hebrew Scriptures were gathered from the oral traditions of the tribes, written down, and edited through the centuries and generations into the Hebrew Bible, what we Christians call the Old Testamentwhich was the first Bible used by the Early Church until the canon was put together and accepted in its several variations.

This is an important point and has to do, I believe, with the power of the Holy Spirit, the Hebrew Ruach Yahweh, working, stirring, leading, and guiding humanity across time and space. The other day I read something to the effect that what separates humankind from animals is not just the prehensile thumb but also primarily the ability to communicate across the centuries through a written language. It is the development of the Bible that illustrates this best, I think. It is not too much a stretch of imagination and human understanding to think of the written word as God using this human ability to communicate the salvation history of his people then and now across the millennia, from the very first divine self-revelation to the present and on into the future, until the end of time.

Some Christians believe that the final Revelation was given to humankind in Jesus Christ. Others believe that revelation is continuing to come to us as we become able to understand. And others believe that, while the Revelation may have been given only once, it was too much for us to understand fully, and so the echoes of it are still in the world waiting for us. I probably believe that the Revelation is continuing to be given to us as we are able to understand it.

One commentator has observed that Trinity Sunday celebrates the union for all time of God and God's people. It is the day when the fullness of God's presence in all aspects of the life of God's people is recognized and lifted up. The Holy Trinity pervades all humanity from first to last, from head to foot, binding them all together across time, space, and eternity. For Christians, this is an important truth. The Trinity is not just or only a theological idea that is "out there" someplace, too complex for most people to understand although it is that. The Trinity is intimately with us all as a fact of our spiritual and physical existence. It is the great truth that, at its simplest, tells us how we relate to God and God to us, to each other, and to the whole Creation.
Such an immense truth and deep profound mystery is probably never understood instantly and completely by humans. Some of us may have some humanly limited idea about the relationship of Father and Son in the Triune God because we recognize that kind of connection as a very human analogy. It has some immediate resonance in our human experience. We have had parents. Some of us have had loving and nurturing parents some of us have not. But such a relational analogy is like stained glass. For some of us the symbol on the glass is enough. For others it is not, it is only the beginning for the never-ending journey to seek out the very heart of the mystery. It is the struggle, the wrestling to understand what we cannot yet understand -- and may not ever be able to understand -- that shapes the purpose of our lives in ways we can only dimly glimpse, as through a glass darkly.
It is probably the nature of the Holy Spirit, the role of the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, which has given Christians, both theologians and everyday people, trouble over the ages. Some churches focus almost entirely on the Holy Spirit, and leave out the Risen Christ and God the Father or, at best, diminish their importance. This is a dangerous thing. And sometimes individually we focus almost entirely on Jesus in our faith and worship and this, too is a dangerous thing. At the very least it means our pilgrimage into the heart of the Trinitarian mystery is flawed.
It is not easy for humankind to conceive of the width, the breadth, the depth, and the full majesty of the Holy Trinity. It is probably easier for us to deal with the "relationships" or connections between the persons of the Trinity, because on a superficial level they do indeed seem to bear some resemblance to relationships we know within the human family. Jesus warned of this in our Gospel for today: I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. And Our Lord promised the Holy Spirit would guide us into what God want us to know in the fullness of time.
Our Lords words reminds us of the things about God and the Holy Trinity we cannot hope to understand in our time. But it would be a shame to be so dazzled by the mystery to lose track of what we can understand about what we can expect, now that our Lord is physically absent from our world. But what we know, what we believe, is that the one true God, the Holy Trinity, means that the eternal presence, the relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each Person explaining and binding us to the other (and to each other), will be with us to the end of time.

Although the Holy Trinity perhaps can be, and should be, understandable to us on some simple levels, it will also remain one of the profound mysteries of the faith. And it is a mystery so deep and so profound that we can, perhaps, only hope to throw pebbles into the pool of belief and try to understand what the ripples might connote. Or swim faithfully in the rich whirlpool waters of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason and drink deeply of the waters of the God who loves us and reveals more of himself when we are ready. (1)
The prescient vision of First Isaiah sums it up well the mystery, the power, the glory, the mystery of God; Gods compassion and mercy and Gods call to each one of us:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory."
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!"
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: "Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out."
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I; send me!"
O Holy Triune God, most Holy Trinity; here are we. Send us.

1. Adapted in part from Selected sermons, Trinity C 2004, by John Ratti