Here is a version of Sunday's sermon for Trinity Sunday - our patronal festival. The barbecue afterwards was excellent and lots of us had a great time together... and the sun shone... and the police came and had a burger with us too - it was great to see them. Good for community relations, but I must admit that as the car pulled into the car park my heart was rather in my mouth...!
My grandfather is on the improve. He has been named 'The Comeback King' by the staff at the home. I praise God that he's not dead yet and thankful that we have some more time with him, but he is still not a well man. Well, we continue to pray for healing.
We also had a time of sharing at the beginning of the service yesterday - call it testimony if you want. A few people shared some good news about people we had been praying for and how they are now much better. Who says prayer doesn't work!
To begin, 2 stories. Firstly, In 1997, Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by showing how conditioned we have become to alarmists spreading fear of everything in our environment through junk science. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "Dihydrogen monoxide" because:
1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
2. It is a major component in acid rain.
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
4. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
5. It contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape.
6. It decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
7. It is found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.
He asked 50 people if they support a ban. 43 said yes. Six were undecided and only one knew that the chemical is ... water. Truth can be a slippery thing...
Secondly, a young and very zealous missionary was sent to a small island to convert the natives there to christianity. When he finally rowed his boat onto the the shore and had a chance to look around this rocky outcrop, he discovered no natives, just there three old people living as simple hermits. Right he though to himself, here we go! They seemed friendly and understood his language and invited him to sit and eat with them. Over simple food, the young missionary said, “I have come to tell you about the true and living God.” God said the three - we know about God.” Undeterred the missionary pressed on “not just God, but about his one and only Son.” “ yes”. sid the three, “we know about God’s son too.” That night in bed the zealous missionary thought and prayed on into the small hours of the night about what to do. The next morning it came to him. “I shall teach them to pray! That way they can communicate more effectively with God.
He began to teach them the opening of the Lord’s Prayer. “We know how to pray,’ said the hermits - “we only pray one prayer - Three are thee, three are we have mercy on us.” Days passed and the missionary tried to impress on the hermits the need to pray ‘Our Father’ but consistently they went back to their prayer ‘Three are thee, three are we have mercy on us.” After months of argument and persuasion, the missionary decided to leave the island, frustrated that these souls were not saved. As sailed away from the island, a storm blew up, rough wind and waves, the spray etc. Suddenly, just as he thought his boat might sink, through the maelstrom, the missionary saw a light. ‘God has come to my aid and rewarded my persistence!’ he thought. The light came closer to the boat, and as it did he saw the 3 hermits skimming across the the waves towards him praying “Three are thee, three are we have mercy on us.”
Today, the Church reminds itself of the mysterious truth of faith - that God is three and yet also one. You won’t find direct references to the Trinity in the Scriptures, as what we hold and believe to be true, rises out of experience rather than hard evidence and fact. Sometimes, things need to be interpreted to help us decide if they are true or not. In the same way, what recall today is that God is an unknowable mystery a truth that cannot be explained away. We need to interpret God, we need to understand him, through our own experience and of others in line with what the scriptures tell us.
Truth can be a slippery thing. The Trinity is a way of trying to explain the inexplicable. Not just a divine metaphor though. Trinity rises out of the way that God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit interact and co-repond. Baptism of Jesus for example...
John's Gospel from which this morning's gospel reading comes - 'farewell discourses' - I have loved as the father has loved me and I am in them as the father is in me - and so on... clearly show that there is a special bond between father and son - a togetherness in love. Rublev and the gaze of love. Love binding Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Today is our patronal festival - the day that we recall and honour the saint or saints that give us the name of our church. Can't say for certain why the Holy Trinity was chosen back in teh 1840s as our patron, but with the changing nature of the growing community of Leverstock Green at that time right through to our day - the Holy Trinity will have seemed a good choice. Like the hermits finding their identity as a three-fold community in God the Trinity - the Divine Community which is God has supported this growing local community and help it to find and identity of it’s own in Him.
Finally the Trinity is a bit like bubbles - fleeting and beautiful as they dance amongst and just when you think you have grasped them - they are gone leaving each other. We are a community built in sheer joy where God has danced and played and has left us wit each other - not leaving us on our own, but by bearing his name though baptism and filled with the Holy Spirit, being adopted as brothers and sisters with Jesus, and being filled with him at the eucharist - God makes us one with him and each other in love.
God has danced in this community. As a community called to be like him, literally bearing his name let us dance too... Sydney Carter’s Lord of the Dance - in God’s name dance on.