Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Trinity Sunday

We had a fantastic Patronal Festival on Sunday. Busy church and busy BBQ afterwards where the sun shone and over 100 people stayed to have fun, make friends and build (divine) community.

Above are a few photos and the text of the majority of my sermon...

It's good to be back... I think!


Holy Trinity,
you are neither monarch nor monologue but an eternal harmony of gift and response:
through the Uncreated Word and the Spirit of Truth include us and all creation in your extravagant love;
help us Father, to hear and receive again of your extravagant love that raised Jesus to life. For we ask in His name. Amen.

Today we are celebrating the 160th year since the construction and then consecration of this church building back in 1849. Prior to that point the village had no Anglican church of it’s own. The village was instead part of 3 separate parishes - St Michael’s St Albans, St Mary Hemel Hempstead and St Lawrence Abbots Langley and unless you were part of the non-Conformist traditions, you had to make the approximately 3 mile journey either way to attend worship

Perhaps due to this fact, and the growing size of the village with it’s burgeoning tile and brickmaking industries, plus local agriculture, made things ripe for change and in 1846 a meeting was held at what is now Abbots Hill school, then the home of John Dickinson. The outcome of the meeting between local dignitaries and landowners was ultimately the building of this church.

Friends this building in which we worship today is testimony to the vision faith of many in this community of the years. Come with me on a brief journey...

The font. pulpit and altar were all gifts of John Dickinson to the church, the local paper magnate and philanthropist. The font window recalls the baptism of Robert
Mashiter’s children - he was vicar here from 1861-1871. The Rood screen, stalls and old high altar in what is now the Lady Chapel all commemorate the ministry and family of Rev’d Arthur Durrant who was vicar here from 1899-1936. Various windows, the copy of Holman Hunt’s “Light of the World”, the credance table all commemorate some who gave their lives serving local community, country and crown in the World Wars including the likes of Thomas Alderman, Harry Biswell and others. Right up to our day where the wooden table at the back of the church gives thanks for the life of Bernard Field and the Benedict Chapel window and Stations of the Cross, both designed and crafted by John Lawson, and the latter in memory of Kay Baker.

These people do not just help us to look back and celebrate the past but they help reveal a vision of the present and the future - a vision of how this thriving village community should and could be, but also an experience of the love of God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit in their and our lives.

God was here in Leverstock Green long before this church building was - listen again to part of our first reading from Proverbs:

The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
   the first of his acts of long ago. 
Ages ago I was set up,
   at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
   when there were no springs abounding with water. 
Before the mountains had been shaped,
   before the hills, I was brought forth— 
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
   or the world’s first bits of soil. 
When he established the heavens, I was there,
   when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 
when he made firm the skies above,
   when he established the fountains of the deep, 
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
   so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 
   then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
   rejoicing before him always, 
rejoicing in his inhabited world
   and delighting in the human race.

It was that experience of God present everywhere that ultimately, I believe, sparked the idea to design and build this wonderful church, Today we are thankful for years of experiencing God’s presence here and we long Lord for many more years of inspiring and guiding your people to dream big dreams for you and to help build your kingdom in this community.

The journey of God’s people though is not always an easy one and this community is no different. We are from time to time distracted from the path that God’s lays out before us by sadnesses and suffering whether that is bereavements, illnesses or other tragedy and turmoil like the Buncefield explosion. It is no wonder. Life does not always seem glorious. And yet Paul remind us that in those times of suffering we learn about ourselves and have the opportunity to experience again something of the love of God for ourselves. Listen to what he says again:

‘...[We know that] that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us...’

And the love of God has been given to us all through the care of many in times like these - through an encounter with Jesus Christ for ourselves in the life and love of others.

Today is Trinity Sunday, our Patronal festival.

I believe that it is no accident that this building is named in honour of the God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit... a divine community of love...

- Bringing together of 3 historic parishes (today now linked with 3 others)

- Bringing farmer, brickmaker and tilemaker and their families together for worship
- Seeking to build a strong and lasting community in this village - flowing out from an experience of the love of God over every age - a God whose simple message throughout the scriptures and over the centuries is ‘I love you, I want to be with you, will you be with me.’
- Bread roll - cannot completely understand God and his love if we experience him together as F, S and HS.
- Rublev - Trinity, welcome, as we view we are welcomed at the table. Invited to the banquet and called to share love and build community in the image of God.
- Trinity Sunday is a hallmark of love on the paper of history. Our church building is the local expressions of that over the last 160 years.
- That same hallmark of love is also visible in our lives through an experience of the love of God in Christ and the mark of the cross on us as we were baptised in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What we celebrate today at the heart of our faith is not an equation to be apprehended pr a puzzle to be solved, but a challenge to us who bear His name together and individually. What legacy will we leave for the next 160 years. Perhaps yes a building, but please Lord, changed lives for the glory of the Father, in the name of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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