June 05, 2006

Looking Ahead to June 11 -- Trinity Sunday, First after Pentecost

Every year on the first Sunday after Pentecost we mark Trinity Sunday. This is a day to honour and explore one of the central way Christian have to speak about God, that God is 3-yet-1 and also 1-yet-3.

The Scriptures Readings this week are:

  • From the Jewish Scriptures: Isaiah 6:1-8
  • Psalm 29 (VU p. 756)
  • From the Letters of the Early Church: Romans 8:12-17
  • From the Gospel: John 3:1-17

The Hymns we are singing are:

  • 315 Holy, Holy Holy
  • 316 Praise Our Maker
  • 606 In Christ There is no East or West
  • 312 Praise with Joy the World's Creator

The Sermon title is Ways to Know God.

Some things defy definition and description. God is one of those things. God is something that we can only attempt to define or describe. For Christians it gets more complicated as we try to work out how God made known as the Creator/Father/Parent and God made known as Christ/Redeemer/Son and God made known as Spirit/Sustainer/Comforter are still one God. In point of fact, the early church, as it developed the idea of a Trinitarian God, was accused of being polytheistic.

In our modern world we like to have everything defined and nailed down. It gives us certainty to be able to do that. It removes (we hope) doubt and confusion. Like all other ways of talking about God, the Trinity doesn't let us do that easily. God-talk is most useful when it is symbolic and metaphorical. God-talk needs to leave room for the mystery. God-talk needs to force us to remember that God breaks out of our attempts to define (and possibly to tame?) God.

Some have talked about the Trinity in functional terms. That is that the three persons represent different functions or roles God plays in our loves (eg. Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer). Some people talk about the Trinity as different faces or attributes of God. Some people talk about the Trinity as little as possible because they aren't exactly sure what to say about it.

As a dogmatic statement the Trinity really doesn't make sense. A dogmatic statement is one of those things that one must believe in just this way or else. But if we remember that the Trinity is metaphorical, not concrete, if we remember that it is not meant to be the final word about God it becomes easier. The Trinity is an attempt to show how Parent, Child and Spirit relate to each other. It is an attempt to prove the somewhat inane idea that God can be 1-in-3-in-1. In the end the Trinity, like most of Christianity, is about relationship.

This Sunday come and talk about how we know God. Come and talk about this God of relationship. And maybe we will come a little bit closer to understanding this whole 3-yet-1, 1-yet-3 thing. (maybe I will have to bring props: A shamrock. Some oil?)


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