Sermon - Sunday 19th June 2011

Revd Jan KeartonSermon given by the Revd Jan Kearton

Do you remember being a small child? I can remember the confusion and uncertainty of being a part of a world governed and regulated by adults. Just as I found something interesting to do or to play with or look at, my parents or grandparents would become strangely agitated and I’d have to stop. Sometimes they got cross – I had no idea why! But I knew it mattered. Life was just one big buzzing mystery – the harder I tried, the more complicated it all became.

I used to feel the same when I was training and we were studying the Trinity. The harder we tried to understand it, the more complicated it got. Some of our ideas made our lecturers strangely agitated and words like ‘heresy’ were muttered darkly and our thinking would be reviewed and challenged. But we knew that the Trinity mattered and we knew how important it was in shaping the life of the Church and supporting its development.

The Trinity

I find it helpful to think about the Trinity in the same way that I think about family life. If we’re lucky, our family can be a very important part of our lives. The love that we have for each other is precious and deep and unconditional, and the love that we share often causes us to care very much about each others’ needs and preferences. When we are together, life makes sense because we share many values in common and feel at home with each other and affirmed in each other’s company. We help each other when the going gets tough, we share resources and we act together to bring about the things we long to see happen.

None of us can claim to know what the inner life of God is really like, but we can imaging that the Godhead of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit might be a bit like a perfect family – three persons with one heart and mind, one will, one universal love. A perfect community of shared intentions, actions and preferences, people working together for the good of the whole created order. It’s good for us to be able to hold onto a vision of what it’s like to be in perfect relationship with each other – we can hold it up like a mirror to ourselves, our churches and our communities and see where we are falling short of the glory of the Trinity.

Although we can’t really know what it’s like to live God’s life, the readings we have heard over the last few weeks have given us a few clues. Jesus had a very close relationship with God the Father  - he understood that he and the Father were one.  We recently read about Jesus telling Philip that he did know God the Father because he had seen the Son and that the Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father. The Father is revealed in the Son. Just as Jesus had a close relationship with the Father, so he calls us to be in close relationship with him. He said that the Son does what he sees the Father doing, and that’s our summons to form our lives on the pattern of the Son, to listen to his teaching and obey his commandments, to form our relationships in the way he formed and valued his.

And Jesus said that he wouldn’t leave his disciples comfortless and was going to the Father so that the Spirit could come, and at Pentecost we celebrated the sending of the Spirit by the Father and the Son, the perfect harmony of will between each person of the Trinity that brought in to being the age of the Spirit. We live in the age of the Spirit and the whole of our life as Christians is helped and nurtured by the Spirit’s leading us into truth, healing us when we fail, and praying in us to the Father and the Son.

And now today’s reading from Matthew’s Gospel shows us that the inner life of the Trinity supports us even when we doubt. When the risen Christ calls his eleven closest companions up the mountain, some of the disciples don’t find it easy to understand – they worship him but the wonder that they feel becomes tinged with uncertainty. Jesus reassures them by telling them that it’s his responsibility to lead and protect the new people of God. Later, the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost would send them out in to the world filled with new confidence and vigour. Jesus tells them to baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. In the community of the baptized, the Trinity is active in the life of believers – they sanctify, bless, protect and sustain the life of the baptized person, enfolding them in their care, strengthening and empowering them for the work of being active disciples.

Jesus commissions the Disciples

I fine the disciples doubt very reassuring because it doesn’t seem to matter. Jesus commissions them regardless and sends them in to the world to preach and teach and baptize.  I’m glad that the Trinity can act in and through us even when we feel doubt and confusion, glad that God isn’t limited by our lack of understanding. It’s good to know that God is active just as much in the times when we feel less confident or feel we don’t fully understand as he is when we feel certain of our faith and path.

The fact is that the Trinity is active in the life of the Gospel carried by each disciple as they go out in to the world – Jesus’ saving activity continues through his revelation of God the Father in the power of the Spirit down the ages.

Like little children, we do find the Trinity puzzling and perhaps its right that we should – how can we know what it is to be God? But the good news is that the Father, Son and Spirit are active and alive. God can work through and in each one of us whether we fully understand the Trinity or not. What God needs from each of us is our willingness to go for him – to be sent into the world. The power, authority and love of the Trinity will support us as we trust God to direct, sustain and bless us in the work that he calls and commissions us to do in his name. AMEN.

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Past Sermons
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Webpage icon Sermon for Sunday 31st July 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 24th July 2011
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Webpage icon Sermon for The Priesting of Tessa Stephens
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 22nd May 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 8th May 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon -17th April 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 23rd March 2011
Webpage icon Sermon for Sunday 3rd April 2011
Webpage icon Sunday sermon - 20th March 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 13th March 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 13th February 2011
Webpage icon Sunday Sermon - 20th February 2011
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