Gen 1:1-2:3/Matt 28:16-20
11 June ‘17
Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight
o Lord, my strength and my redeemer. (Ps 19:14)
“Words are means of describing our reality. The church has used “Trinity” to describe our experience of God. The experience that we are naming is that the God we experience in creation, the God we experience in Jesus Christ, and the God we experience at Pentecost are all experiences of the one God. Don’t think of the Trinity as an incomprehensible doctrine. Think of the Trinity as our earnest attempt to name our experience of the overflowing love of G0d.” (Rev. Sean Ferrell, posted on Facebook Saturday 14 June 2014 at about 12:30 pm.) “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 I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:9-20) “Finally brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” (II Corinthians 13: 11-13) I have just read three different quotes. Two of them I hope you recognize as from the Scriptures, from our lessons for today in fact. The first one, the one about how we, as Christian people, experience God is something one of my seminary classmates, Sean Ferrell, now serving as rector of a church in Illinois, posted on Facebook some years ago. What do you suppose the three have to do with one another? The first, the one from my seminary classmate sets the stage so to speak. This is Trinity Sunday. This is the only Sunday on which we, here in the Episcopal church, focus on doctrine. We are not, after all is said and done, a doctrinal church. We are a much more practical church, a church that focuses on how we might continually learn and grow, through the power of the Holy spirit ,in order to live as Christian people to God’s glory. So I want to focus less on the doctrine today and more on how that doctrine calls us to live. The quote from the gospel lesson holds what we could call our marching orders. They quote Jesus who is God come as one of us, to live with us and to show us how to live and love as God lives and loves. Jesus’ words send us into the world to do as Jesus himself did, to share the love of God, not just with “the right people” but with all people, even Samaritans, even Romans, even women. Keep firmly in mind here that when I speak of love I am not referring to a warm and fuzzy internal sensation whether of affection or of desire or of some combination of the two. In this Christian context love is a verb, an action word, it refers to how we treat other people minute to minute with respect, willing for them all the goodness God has given to each one of us. And that quote from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians? Beyond the fact that it shows us a very early confession of the Trinitarian the nature of God, it also speaks to the relationship between Paul and the church he founded at Corinth. What about that Church at Corinth? That church existed a long time ago now. Remember that Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. The church mirrored the city in that it was both large and diverse. Some members had significant wealth and social standing. Other members were people of lesser means and lower social standing. Paul had heard reports that all was not well at Corinth. Rival groups were jockeying for power and those who had lower social status were being marginalized as members. I can just imagine how some of the more powerful members might have acted to make sure that those with less standing never got to power in the first place. What a job of work Paul had with that group! Throughout his letters to the Church at Corinth Paul implored the community to get along and to show the kind of unity that, In Paul’s view, marked them as Christian people. I have to say that congregation, sadly, sounds like many congregations today when they have gotten off track. What do I mean by that? Let’s go back to that quote by my classmate. He refers to how we experience the overflowing love of God. And isn’t that a key point about Christians? At our best we have had a real experience of the overflowing love of God and that experience has changed us. We are, even in our lowest moments, aware of the power of God’s overflowing love. The power of God’s love shapes us and calls us to live as God’s people, people who are dedicated to showing that amazing love in ways that let others experience it too. “Go, therefore, and make disciples”, indeed. That, in its simplest form, is what Jesus asks of us. Go and show all other people the amazing love of God.
Go and live out that love not just for some, not just the ones you have warm and fuzzy feeling of affection toward, but for all people. Even the ones you might not like so much at first glance, even the ones who aren’t just like you. Go and live God’s love as Jesus did. Make no mistake. The notion of the Trinity, which is after all a reflection of how we experience the unknowable, unimaginable, creating power of the Holy One, tells us that God is love and, beyond that, God is love lived out in relationship. Do you remember what Jesus said about the greatest commandment? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and with all your strength and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Buried in the midst of that long reading we had this morning from Genesis, if you were listening, was the deep truth that we are each, every single one of us, with no exceptions, created in the image and likeness of God. God whose internal relationship of love overflows into the creation that God calls good. (Even mosquitos, even ticks, and yes, even people we don’t like very much for one reason or another) The notion of Trinity names God as overflowing love. We are both called and empowered to share that love because we already know that love as a defining force in our lives, a force so powerful that we are compelled to share it. “Go and make disciples” Jesus said. Go and live as I did, go and do as I did. Share God’s incredible love widely. May “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit” be with us now and always. Amen.