My First Sermon
I gave my first sermon when I was 16 at St. Paul's Church, Orange, Texas on Trinity Sunday 66 years ago!
It was not too hard to explain God the Father and Creator. I had Genesis to inform me about the creation of the universe, the sun, the moon, the stars and earth–how vegetation, animals and the human race came to be. Out of chaos came all things into order and God said it was good. As I observed nature and how things worked together, I was always amazed how God knew how to make all these things work. I did not have to understand it; I only had to give credit to God for having done it and that was fun.
Then there was Jesus the Son, the Eternal Son who became the Incarnate Son. His birth was predicted and took place in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:1–20 and Matthew 1:18–2:12) I did not have much to report on His early life, but I reasoned that He was very smart, learned to be a carpenter and was probably a well-behaved teenager. His adult life was spent teaching, preaching, healing the sick and feeding large crowds. He worked with at least 12 disciples who were a little slow to catch on (much like we can be today). And, of course, He died on a cross to forgive us for our sins, accomplishing the purpose for which He came into the world.
I thought I was doing okay, but then I had to explain the Holy Ghost. To a 16-year-old, this part of the Trinity looks like Casper the ghost with a halo. How do I preach this? With the help of my priest, I was pointed to John 14–15. Jesus tells us He will send an Advocate that will be in us and remain with us for ever. This was (and is) the Holy Spirit, the unseen but real presence of God in the world then and now.
It was my understanding that this Spirit would be with me to help know right from wrong and help me make difficult decisions. This is especially important to teenagers because making the wrong decision can change your life and not always for the better!
Having shared all that I knew about the Trinity, I was very glad to say “amen” and take my seat. (I still have some notes from this in my file. Kathleen says I never throw anything away.) After all these years, I cherish my understanding of the Trinity–limited as it is–because it has helped me through my life's journey so far. I pray that your understanding of the Trinity will do the same for you.
The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost be upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.
The Rev. Nicolas (Nick) R.D. Dyke