St. John's, Centreville
May 27, 2018
Trinity Sunday B
John 3: 1-17
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come as the wind and cleanse; come as the fire and burn; convert and consecrate our lives to our great good and your great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I made a big mistake about a year and a half ago when my daughter Kim was setting the date for her wedding, which was this past Saturday. First of all, I didn't look ahead to see it was Pentecost, and secondly, I didn't insist that she move it to this weekend so I would be away and wouldn't have to preach on Trinity Sunday!
However, today is Trinity Sunday, and here we are. It is one of the seven principal feasts on the church calendar; a day when we celebrate a church doctrine rather than a specific event like Christmas or Easter.
But why does it matter? Why do we need to know about the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit and us? Because each has a relationship with us. And that is what God is all about - relationships. Perhaps that is why our gospel reading for today contains the infamous words of John 3:16. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life." God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - in relationship with each other and with us. The Trinity gives us an awareness of how much more God is than we can ever begin to comprehend.
A few years ago, the movie "The Shack", based on the book by the same name written by William Young, came to the local movie theaters and many of us went to see it together. God was portrayed as a Southern African American woman who loved to cook. Jesus was a Middle Eastern carpenter, and the Holy Spirit was an Asian woman always dressed in light, flowing garments who flits around from here to there. Each had a different relationship with Mack, the main character, but they also had relationships with each other, each complementing each other, fulfilling a part of who God is. Together, the three persons of God help Mack cope with the grief following the tragic death of his young daughter.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son...." God loved and God gave. Because of God's love for us, God sent his only Son to show us the power of love, love that led to his dying for us because of his love for us. God then sent us the Holy Spirit to be with us always, as we celebrated last week at Pentecost, to continue to show us God's love for us.
The power of God's love was the theme of the sermon powerfully preached by our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle last Saturday. Curry said, "There's power in love. Don't underestimate it. Don't over sentimentalize it. There's power, power in love....There's a certain sense in which when you are loved, and you know it, when someone cares for you, and you know it, when you love and you show it, it actually feels right. There's something right about it. And there's a reason for that. The reason has to do with the source. We were made by a power of love. And our lives were meant, and are meant to be lived in that love. That's why we are here. Ultimately, the source of love is God....There's power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There's power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There's power in love to show us the way to live. Its power that can change the world."
Curry continues, "Jesus gave up his life, he sacrificed his life for the good of others, for the good of the other, for the well-being of the world, for us! That's what love is. Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities when love is the way. Imagine our governments and nations when love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.... When love is the way, then no child would go to bed hungry in this world ever again. When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. When love is the way, poverty would become history. When love is the way, the earth will become a sanctuary. When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields down by the riverside and study war no more. When love is the way, there is plenty of room for all God's children. And when love is the way, we actually treat each other - well, like we're actually family. When love is the way, we know that God is the source of us all, and we are brothers and sisters. Children of God."
Curry concluded his sermon by referencing the French Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin who said that fire was one of the greatest discoveries in all of human history. "He went on to say that if humanity ever harnesses the energy of fire again, if humanity ever captures the energy (and the power) of love, it will be the second time in history that we have discovered fire.... We must discover love. The redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will make of this old world a new world."
In my opinion, our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is one of the greatest preachers of our time. He imagines what can be possible if we all would draw on the power of love given to us by God, through his Son Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit - the Trinity. God has given us the power to love but we need to use it in all areas of our lives. We need to press our businesses and government leaders and workers and nations to use that power of love in all their interactions, all their business dealings, so what they do is for the lifting up of all people, not just a select few, so all will benefit, so all will see justice and equality, all will have the necessities of life.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life." God gives us the power of love. May we use that power every day of our lives for the lifting up of all people and to the glory of God. Amen.