Communion: Trinity Sunday 12th June
Communion: Trinity Sunday
Hymn 133: Source and Sovereign
Reading John 16: 12-15 Elaine
Hymn 526: This is a day of new beginnings (tune Morning has broken)
Hymn 723(MP): We come as guests invited (Tune: Penlan)
Hymn 547: What a friend we have in Jesus
Welcome to our reflection for 12th June.
Today in the Church calendar is Trinity Sunday.
I can think of very few subjects that ministers wants to talk about less.
Ministers would rather talk about sex or death or money than Trinity Sunday.
The reason for that is that we get our heads in a mess about the academics of it.
The latest one I heard was a minister asking us to imagine an iceberg at the equator; the water is at the same time ice, and liquid and gas, but always water.
A fine metaphor, or analogy, or simile, or whatever it is...
Unfortunately, once we have talked for whatever length of time of how the Trinity of Father, Son and Spirit interacts, or works as one, the congregation rightly say to themselves ‘So what?’
So all that mind-bending verbal contortionist garbage is worked out, and it is all of nothing.
Today we will try to say something a bit more practical about the Trinity.
We will do that after Elaine gives us the Bible reading, which is one of the very few readings where the Father, the Son and The Holy Spirit are mentioned at the same time.
It must have been about a month ago.
Michelle was taking the service and she started the Children’s address in the building by asking for us to describe what peace looked like.
The answers were all very similar...
‘A walk in the park, or a walk in the hills,
The sound of waves on the beach.
Watching a sunrise or a sunset.
Looking at the blossom on the tees as a gentle wind blew.’
At the time my spider-sense was tingling away but I couldn’t work out why.
Everything that was said seemed reasonable.
And yet in my head something wrong had been said, something dangerous.
It was quite a while later that it suddenly dawned on me...everything that we had talked about, that was supposedly our aim to reach peace, had nothing to do with relationship, either with God or any other human being.
No one said, ‘Church.’
No one said, ‘Prayer.’
No one said, ‘My marriage, or my friendship with my best friend
or when I am talking to my counsellor or therapist.’
Now I am not blaming Michelle for this...in fact the story that she told to talk about peace was about a visit to grannies and how they found contentment, peace between the generations, by play.
Michelle also gave us all a candle so that we could experience peace through a meditation with God in an act of prayer.
So the examples she gave were examples in theory and in practice of peace through relationship.
But the congregation’s answers still bugged me.
And they bugged me because I would have given those types of answers as well.
So that got me thinking.
What if part of the problem we have in life is that we have a need, a need for peace, for contentment, for serenity, but what if we are instinctively looking for it in the wrong place?
Don’t get me wrong.
As a natural introvert, human beings tire me out.
The idea of a being on a deserted island with the waves lapping across the shore sounds like heaven to me.
In the middle of lockdown I was emailing all my fellow ministers telling them that my theory was right.
You see I have a theory. My theory is that churches would be brilliant if it wasn’t for the congregation.
And in the middle of lockdown I had proof of this.
There was I, the minister of Alva Parish, and for a while I wasn’t allowed to do anything with people.
I couldn’t hold services in the church; I wasn’t allowed to visit anyone.
I had a church without a congregation and it was perfect.
No one criticised any of my ideas, because there was no one about to criticize them.
No one made any comment on any of my choices of hymns. That has never happened before. Suddenly no one made any comment about my hymn choice, because there was no one here to sing them.
No one made any comments about the length of my sermons; No one.
No one made any snide remarks about how long it had been since my last visit.
I can honestly say that it was the easiest stint of being a minister I have ever had.
You would think it was a time of complete peace and serenity and contentment.
And yet I have never been so frustrated in my ministry as at that time.
Because ministry is about relationship, and if we can’t have relationship there is no ministry.
And the truth is that peace is about relationship, and when there is no relationship there is no peace.
As we can see by the answers that we gave a few weeks past, our natural instinct is to see that if we are not content, if we are not at peace then that is because there is something wrong with our relationships,
so the easy way to get peace is to hide from those relationships,
run away from those relationships,
avoid those relationships.
To be alone looking at a sunset, because sunsets can’t hurt us.
To be alone on a beach looking at a wave lapping across the shore, because beaches can’t hurt us.
To be walking alone in the hills looking at breathtaking views, because views can’t hurt us.
We end up looking for contentment, and peace and serenity by escaping others. And when that doesn’t happen, we try to escape all the more.
And we fail to see that the reason these things don’t work is that there are over six billion others in the world and at some point we need to interact with them.
We fail to see that the reason these things don’t work is because we were created to need others, and we miss them when they are not there.
So what can we do?
We look at scripture for help.
And what does scripture tell us?
Well it tells us that God is trinity; Father, Son and Spirit...in relationship.
At the very centre of God is relationship; Father, Son and Sprit...working away at creation, united in purpose and meaning.
The Bible also tells us that we are made in God’s image, so we are made like God, to be in relationship.
Can anyone remember the first thing in the Bible that God thought was not good?
God is reflecting on Adam in the Garden of Eden and he says, ‘It is not good for the man to live alone.’
According to the answers that we gave Michelle about a month ago God should never have said that.
Adam had everything he needed.
He had food, he had purpose, he had sunsets and views coming out of his ears. He had no one to disturb or ruin that peace.
And yet, in God’s judgement, it was not good
If we want peace, we don’t find it by avoiding relationships; we find it by healing relationships.
The whole of the Old Testament, the whole of the New Testament, is about a God reaching out to humanity to create relationship, to heal relationship.
Offering forgiveness, taking away all the things that create barriers between ourselves and God, ourselves and others.
That is why Trinity Sunday is so important, because it reminds us of that truth, a truth we need to focus on more and more. God is relationship, so are we.
I tell you this as a true introvert that finds people exhausting.
When I am on my own I am not at peace, I am lonely.
When my grandchildren are using me as a trampoline...I am at peace.
When I am holding Roseanna’s hand as we walk down the street...I am at peace.
When I am playing squash with a friend and running around like a headless chicken...I am at peace.
When I am worshipping with others and we join our hearts with God’s...I am at peace.
If we want peace, we will only find it in community, with God, with others...so let us gently, quietly, move our lives so that we can meet God, meet others, and become what we want to become...at peace.
Let us pray
As we pray to you we so often forget the truth behind the words.
We fail to see that even the name ‘father’ is a relational word.
And because we fail to see that simple truth we cut ourselves off from you.
We worry that you judge us, that you are disappointed at us, that we are not worthy of you, we see you as ‘up there’ beyond us.
So you sent your Son, to talk of the love you have for your creation, the sacrifices you were willing to make so that there would be a chance of peace between us.
‘Father. Forgive them,’ that’s what your Son said. ‘Help them to see that you don’t cut yourself off from these foolish humans, that you are a parent to them, that you guide them, help them, love them.’
And because we are foolish, because we so easily forget, you even send your Spirit, who nudges and points to the truth of the love you offer us.
We glimpse in creation and are reminded that you love us enough to create this world for us.
We see it in your forgiveness and are reminded at how far you are willing to go to show your love.
We see others in our lives and they give your encouragement and love a voice for us to hear, a hand that we can hold onto.
Give us the courage to be in community.
Give us the courage to be community for others.
This we ask in Jesus name.