SERMON BY FR LARRY GALON TRINITY SUNDAY 2016
The Holy Trinity, The Triune God, The One God in Three Persons and many other names allow us to celebrate today the full encyclopaedia of Christian belief, beginning at Pentecost. At Pentecost, the Apostles were shocked because according to the Book of Acts "Everyone speaks their native languages as they were inspired by the Holy Spirit" and the most intriguing thing is that everybody understood each other, not because they were linguists but because the Holy Spirit was at work in that place. And I believe that this Parish has the same quality. Our attendance every Sunday comes from a very diverse community and society, and we understand the same language. We are from different places, different races, different background of belief yet we all understand this language. This language is the Words of the Eucharist or I'd rather call it the Language in the Age of Spirit. The Language in the Age of Spirit is the institution of the Eucharist.
When I shared this idea with a member of my Filipino congregation he asked me what about the Bible, is it a part of the language of the Age of Spirit? The answer is yes, it is. That is why it is used in the institution of the Eucharist. The invocation of the Holy Trinity, readings from the Bible, the words of Jesus at the Last Supper and the Great Commissioning at the end of the Celebration. All the words used in the Eucharist always refers to the Holy Bible.
Today the Church celebrates the Holy Trinity. It is not as obviously dramatic and exciting as Christmas, Easter, or Pentecost, but it is the summary and the climax of the Church year as we turn to ordinary time in our church cycle of calendar. So we celebrate the action of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and now we put them all into today, the celebration of the Most Holy Trinity.
If we talked about it in traditional terms in English the first two persons use the male pronoun - the Father and the Son. In Greek the word spirit, pneuma is neuter, but in Hebrew Ruach in feminine, so there is no reason why we cannot refer to the Spirit as a Mother, or a Daughter, but this language tends to jar a bit. It is more difficult to find it in the Christian tradition, and we would still have the problem of attributing gender to God. For this reason, many denominations today prefer to speak of Creator God, Eternal Word and Holy Spirit and another is Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. I mention this because Christian traditional language also has its limitations.
So there are two points that I want to look at as we celebrate the Holy Trinity.
First, The Social Trinity, the life of a social God.
A Jewish traditional dance is an illustration, where everybody clutches arms together and dances in a circle as they sing " Heven u shalom aleichem "or "Gods peace be with you". In the Philippines, we commonly use this as one of our fellowship energiser dances, which means that the persons or the modes of God weave in and out of each other in a blissful dynamic circle. The social God offers us a model for human community, an interwoven community. If God was a solitary God, so to speak, it would be too much like the rule of a benevolent dictatorship and if it was binary, just the two persons, the Father and the Son, this suggests a mutual pre-occupation of one with the other like human lovers, who only have eyes for each other. But three for society. Moreover, it is a society of equals, for the persons in Trinity are equal. So Christian communities should also be communities of equality, of mutuality and of joyful sharing in the Christian Fellowship. The Trinity portrays a communal relationship of the Triune God, as Paul says " If one member of the body suffers, the whole body suffers". When the Son suffers, so the Father and the Holy Spirit suffers. The common being of Holy Trinity embodies the relationship of our Christian family. So if we are persecuted because of our faith, God suffers with us, yet if we can encourage believers to be more vibrant and zealous in Christian work and ministry, God rejoices with us.
Secondly, the Holy Trinity is an inclusive society
God is often described as being completely different and unique from us. But for Christians this is only half of the story. In John chapter 17, Jesus prays his High Priestly prayers, he prays that those who LOVE HIM may be ONE with HIM, just HE is ONE with the FATHER. In so doing, the unity of love within the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, includes us in a blessed circle. This reminds me of one of the sermon of Fr. William about the orthodox icon, named theosis, which means the way that human beings may be transformed so as to share the very nature of God. Perhaps one of the letters of The New Testament comes true when it says "becoming partakers of divine nature of God". This means that the church becomes the vessel of God’s interrelatedness to His creation, male or female, rich or poor, coloured or white, and any other status-quo in our society. Yes, we know that there are boundaries and limitations to every Christian community, but we are encouraged to welcome everybody as we are all welcomed by God to share in his glory that is to be revealed. The church should be marked out by a series of welcome mats and not by a brick wall. We should always use these words " welcome to Saint John's", But after two years I noticed that our door caption did not say welcome to St. John's but rather it says, "Behold I make all things new". Maybe this is one of the reasons why St. John Parish attracts us, this church becomes a vessel of our interrelatedness to each other and of God. Let us encourage our communities to become models of the society of God, let us be inclusive as the all- loving and wonderful God at the same time as we participate in the suffering of the world from which God has nowhere to hide but only within his creation.
Finally, as we baptise Jayden today, we remember that every baptism in the Christian Church is in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, the social Trinity, and the ultimately inclusive society.
Let us pray.
O sacred and profound Trinity! Thou art a depth in which all our thoughts are drowned. How great is thy wisdom; how beautiful thy plan for the world. Draw us into your life that we may become sharers in your nature, and come at last to the fullness of your life.