Sunday, June 03, 2012

Trinity Sunday Sermon - The Rev. Peter M. Carey - 3 June 2012

Trinity Sunday Sermon
The Rev. Peter M. Carey
3 June 2012
Emmanuel Episcopal Church
Greenwood, VA

For with your co-eternal Son and Holy Spirit, you are one
God, one Lord, in Trinity of Persons and in Unity of Being;
and we celebrate the one and equal glory of you, O Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Awe can cause us to experience God in tangible ways. 

Have you ever camped out while a thunderstorm roared?  Have you ever climbed a snowy mountain when a blizzard kicks up?  Have you ever hunkered down during a hurricane?  Have you ever battened down the hatches when a storm arises and you are at sea?

Perhaps you have not had these experiences, but I remember all too well one time when my brother and I were out with my dad on our wooden 12 foot sailboat and a storm came up.  I was about 8 and Paul was about 6.  My dad had us go forward under the small covered area in the bow of the boat and he covered us with raincoats and ponchos.  The storm roared, the boat was pushed this way and that, and we were terrified, but my dad had a calming presence nonetheless.  He probably was nervous as well, but he was highly functional and quite “matter-of-fact” about the storm and the rain and the fact that we were out on the water during it all. 

The voice of the Lord is upon the waters
The God of glory thunders
the Lord is upon the mighty waters
The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice
The voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.

While I don’t think that it was in God’s interest to make the storm upon the waters for us in our little yellow wooden boat, I can imagine something of the power of God through my memory of the power of that storm.  I can also remember something of the care and compassion of God through the care and ability of my Dad through that stormy and worrisome time. 

The Lord sits enthroned above the flood
The Lord sits enthroned as King for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;
The Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Encountering the awe of a tremendous storm is perhaps just a bit of what it must be like to encounter God in all His majesty.  Whenever I read the passage today of the calling of Isaiah from the 6th chapter of Isaiah, I can only begin to imagine this tremendous scene.  The Lord sitting on a throne, the hem of his robe filled the temple, Seraphs in attendance with 6 wings and smoke and all the rest.  It is tremendously hard for me to imagine this scene, but the glory of God is surely, probably, something as incredible as this.  When I was huddled in the bow of the yellow wooden sailboat, I was hoping that my father would steer us to the solid shore, and that the storm would abate.  When encountering the living God, awe is the only appropriate response.  This is an awe however that evokes fear, but also the sense that God is steering the boat, that the same God who appears in the storm appears compassionately as we are steered to safe shore.  The God who judges us is the God who loves us, afterall.  The God who created us also became one of us through Jesus the Christ, and we are His forever. 

And so, on this Trinity Sunday, we can affirm the way that God is one in three and three in one, though we don’t totally understand this assertion.  We know that the glory of God fills us with awe, but also that the love and compassion of God wraps us up in his arms like a mother hen cares for her children.  The God who created us, and who sent His son to redeem us is also the God who lives and breathes among us as the Holy Spirit.

In Revelation, we read the words, “hear what the Spirit is saying to the people,” and we are privileged to receive the many gifts of the Spirit even in this place and this time.  Just as we know that God is ever-present with us as Father & Creator, and just as we know that we are ever being redeemed and saved through the Son, the Christ, we are also constantly being revived and strengthened through the gifts of the fire and breath of the Holy Spirit.

Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth:
Set up your kingdom in our midst.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God:
Have mercy on me, a sinner.

Holy Spirit, breath of the living God:
Renew me and all the world.
~N.T. Wright

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