Trinity Sunday – June 16, 2019 – Trinity, Winchester
Today is Trinity Sunday, a principal feast of the church and the titular feast of Trinity Episcopal Church in Winchester. It is a deep joy to be a part of a congregation so steadfast in faithful witness to God’s work in the world.
I’m not sure that a sermon is the best place to expound upon complicated doctrinal teaching, even on Trinity Sunday. In-depth exploration of the doctrine of the Trinity is probably best suited for adult formation, Bible study, and late-night conversations with nerdy friends.
We can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the Trinity in next 10 minutes. The Trinity was yesterday, is today, and will remain tomorrow a great mystery.
Even scholars who devote their lives to studying Christian theology will never quite grasp it. This is not to say that we shouldn’t ask questions about it, study it, or discuss it. In fact, we should!
Labeling this core component of our faith a “mystery” should not be an excuse not to think about it, wrestle with it, or intelligently argue about it. Quite the contrary, our beliefs are strongest when they are joined with knowledge. Learning and holiness must be linked. Prayer and study. Faith and reason.
But look who I’m telling… You know what it means to critically engage your faith. During the program year we meet weekly for both Sunday School and Bible study. A couple of weeks ago, when Amy and I suggested taking a summer hiatus, you told us you didn’t want to.
You said you wanted to keep meeting each Tuesday afternoon to talk about God and explore your faith. What’s more, you chose to forgo our typical lectionary-based Bible study in favor of a more challenging course that involved reading a scholarly book about biblical narrative.
Trinity Sunday may be the only day on the liturgical calendar that focuses on a complex theological doctrine, but at Trinity Church in Winchester we have challenging, mind-bending, faith-fueled conversations all year long.
When you think about it, it’s fitting that we are called “Trinity.” To be named for this inexplicable doctrinal mystery says something about us. It says that we are ready and willing to have challenging conversations.
This is not new to Trinity. Some of you remember that more than a decade ago you had one of the hardest conversations of all. When some members of the parish walked away to start a new venture outside of the Episcopal Church you made sure that Trinity parish remained steadfast in faithful witness. You remained committed to one another and committed to exploring your faith.
Today is about more than making sense of a complicated theological doctrine. Today is about remembering who we are together and why you—as members of Trinity Episcopal Church— are in relationship with one another.
The Trinity—one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is in itself a divine model for relationship. God is three, constantly relating to each other, in one. We are constantly reminded of this divine relationship in our liturgy, from “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” all the way to “The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The Trinity reminds us that Christianity, before it is anything else, is a relationship. Before it is faith, or belief, or creed, or doctrine, or catechism, or morality, it is first and foremost a relationship with God who knew us and loved us before time and who knows and loves us still.
Christianity is a relationship with God who came as the Son in flesh to sanctify our human nature and who lives among us still. Christianity is a relationship with God who as the Spirit fell in tongues of fire on the disciples and who sustains the church still.
Christianity is a relationship with God who teaches us what it’s like to be in a relationship with each other, and the rest of creation. Without God we couldn’t live this life together. We couldn’t tolerate each other’s quirks or deal with each others’ personalities.
Without God we couldn’t have kept this little ship afloat. Without God we wouldn’t be greeting new faces at the door or welcoming back old friends. Without God we wouldn’t be able to gather in the Parish Hall for heady conversations and faith exploration.
No, without God we would not have this wonderful parish.
And without God we would not be equipped for the ministry of the future. We would not be equipped for our growing food pantry, or our renewed commitment to evangelism, or our close relationships with our fellow STEM congregations.
Without God we would scarcely have the courage to walk into each new day, calling this community’s attention to the signs of God all around.
I guess it’s a good thing we have God, then—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—because I, for one, would hate to miss this.