The Gospel: Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that you have inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation, and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: Today we are celebrating Trinity Sunday Day. Now, I have said before on Trinity Sunday, that one of the best pieces of advice I ever received, as I was drawing close to Ordination and was about to launch into my opportunity to preach on a regular basis, was: "Don't try to explain the Trinity." More preachers have fallen into heresy trying to delve into the Trinity than in any other theological mystery of the Christian faith.
So, I am not going to "explain" the Trinity this morning. I am going to attempt to talk about some aspects of the Trinity. It is important for us, as Episcopalians, to accept the basic concept of the Trinity.
The concept developed in Christian thought, and understanding, as people tried to define and conceptualize the idea of God. It first appears in Christian thought and writing around the year 200. The words 'the Trinity' are the English equivalent of the Latin word Trinitas, which was coined by the early Christian writer Tertullian. The word, which, etymologically, means something like 'the tripleness', is used to refer collectively to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Our second slide this morning is of an icon that is considered in Orthodox church circles to represent the Trinity. Now I have to admit icons were not a big part of my growing up. It wasn't until I went to Seminary and we spent some time discussing them that I developed an interest and appreciation of them. Soon after that, I discovered that several of my friends found them helpful in their spiritual practices. So as my understanding developed I found a deeper appreciation of their meaning and influence in my own spirituality.
Here at Christ Church, we only display icons during Lent, when we set out the Stations of the Cross. Some of our more Anglo-Catholic brethren across the Diocese use icons regularly as a part of their worship and spiritual practices.
So, I went looking for some background information on his particular icon and found a great resource on the Trinity Iconography Institute page.
There they state that The “Holy Trinity” Icon is known as The “Troitsa”
The name “Troitsa” is the Russian name given to the icon by the most famous Russian iconographer, St. Andrei Rublev, who lived from about 1370 until 1430 C.E.; Rublev was a professed Orthodox monk living in St. Sergius Monastery, Moscow.
The Icon depicts the story of the visit to Abram from the Old Testament.
Three figures are seated at a table, under a tree, and in the vicinity of a large house, the home of Abraham and Sarah, at Mamre. These figures represent the Three Persons in One God, or The Holy Trinity. The icon underlines the sameness of the three figures by using a single identical image, repeated three times but robed differently to suggest three different qualities of the three Spirits, or Angels – the Three Aspects of God.
Our third image this morning is another attempt to depict the Trinity. It is important to note that no image can capture God any more than we can use words to do that.
This image seeks to clarify how God is "at one, and the same time" three and one.
In image four and also in our reading from Genesis this morning the creative action of God is illustrated. Image five shows the various actions of creation depict the work of God the Father, the Holy Spirit and the Son all working and interacting together.
Then in the verses which describe the events of Day Six humankind is created and the relationship between the Trinity and human beings is outlined.
"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day."
I believe this is a central and important feature of creation and the Trinity. If you don't take anything else from my Message this morning I hope you will grasp this astounding truth.
The Trinity in all of its wonderful "unexplainableness" decided to create humankind and to be in relationship with that particular piece of creation.
Psalm 8 describes this wondrous relationship in intimate detail. The place of humankind in creation is like no other piece or part of creation.
Now, I have to say here I did not know when I chose the theme for our Sundays@Five Summer Series that we would be reading Psalm 8 today. But it is providential that we will be exploring that relationship all through the Summer. Can I invite you to please come and participate and learn more about the Trinity and about our role and relationship with the Trinity.
The Gospel this morning is a short reading and one that is very familiar to all of us. Jesus appears to his disciples and Jesus commissions them:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The disciples carry out the commission and they pass on to those who follow after them. And so it goes on, generation to generation, down through the years until it comes to us.
The task, given at creation, for humankind to be the Trinity's ambassadors and stewards of the creation is presented to us. The ongoing desire for the Trinity to be in relationship with humankind is before us. It is a gift to us but also for us, a gift for us to share.
What are those words we pray together after Communion:
Send us now into the world in peace and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen"
Bishops & Father Mike