Trinity Sunday – Rev Ken Masters – 12th June 2022

A Sermon preached by The Revd Ken Masters at Pen Selwood on Trinity Sunday, 12 June 2022

Readings: Proverbs 81-4,22-31; John 1612-15

We come on this Trinity Sunday – you and I – to worship God.  We do so in a form that goes back 20 centuries – but today in modern-ish language, though full of technical, theological words.  To those outside the Church, this may seem very peculiar.  However, this tradition gives us part of our identity as members of the Christian Church – and followers of Christ.  That is one aspect of our identity as persons.

45 or so years ago, I learnt about another aspect of identity in T-groups, sensitivity training, & group dynamics.  We had posters with messages about identity, such as:

 I am afraid to tell you who I am

because you may not like who I am —

and it’s all that I have.

 Another:

I must be able to tell you who I am

before I can know who I am.

 And another:

I can help you to accept and open yourself

mostly by accepting and revealing myself to you.

To read these from the pulpit now seems almost embarrassing.  Yet their message expresses a reality about some of our inner feelings and the ways we relate with each other.

Our identity as persons is partly shaped deep within ourselves – and has partly developed by learning knowledge and acquiring skills.  It’s also modified by the way we relate to the people around us: as we’re born, grow up, play, work, and grow older.  Then there’s that other, higher dimension – in which our identity is partly shaped by what is beyond us – essentially mysterious and personal.  After all, none of us know ourselves completely – even though we know ourselves better than we know anyone else.  Some pretend others are an open book, but of course they’re not – there is an inner mystery about them too.

Another very important part of our identity is our name.  There’s that wonderful story in the book of Exodus, chapter 3, about Moses and the burning bush.  One day, there he was, on the edge of the wilderness, minding his own business so-to-speak – or, more accurately, minding his father-in-law’s sheep.  He was attracted by ‘a fire blazing out from a bush’.  His name was called – ‘Moses!’  He responded ‘Here I am.’  And then Moses had the temerity to ask God for His name.  God answered ‘I AM who I AM’ – which says nothing and yet everything.  The Hebrew consonants of God’s Name are Y-W-H-W, probably pronounced as Yahweh and traditionally read as Jehovah.  The mystery of the divine identity remains, holy and sacred.

Here I am.  Here you are.  Here God may reveal His divine identity as ‘I AM who I AM’.  Each of us being essentially a mystery.  And I’m not trying to explain the mystery.  I simply want to say that our identity depends on all three.  God, other people, and our own self – rely upon and depend upon each other.  That is part of the unity and diversity which is life.

Today being Trinity Sunday, we may think of that unity and diversity as being at the heart of God.  The Church tried to describe that in working out the doctrine of God the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, yet One God.  This too is a mystery – not in the sense of a Whodunnit – but in a sense of mysteriousness, awe and reverence.  People find this doctrine difficult to understand.  I’d suggest not to think of it as how One can be Three, but in terms of how the belief came about.

Like Jesus himself, his first followers were Jews and shared the basic belief that there is only One God.  A belief, incidentally, which Jews and Christians later shared with Moslems.  The Lord our God is One.  But then after Jesus had died, risen and ascended, his followers found they believed in Jesus as Lord – that He is the Word and revelation of God – and so, in a unique way, the Son of God.  Moreover, they experienced the power of God’s Holy Spirit – as we celebrated last Sunday – which they believed to be the way God reveals Himself in creation, in inspiration, in guidance and within each human soul.  They still believed in only One God – but One God who reveals Himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

So, this deepens the mystery at the heart of God.  I like to think, though, that it also has parallels with the mystery of human identity.  We are identified as Christians at our baptism in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  At the heart of God and at the heart of each one of us, there is love – both a need and a capacity for love, and both a need and a love for each other and for God.

On this Trinity Sunday we give thanks for the love of God, shown in his Son Jesus Christ, and communicated to all by his Holy Spirit.  So may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore.  Amen.

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