June 3, 2007

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15 Welcome to Trinity Sunday — the first Sunday after Pentecost each year. Trinity Sunday is unusual. Most of the special Sundays in the church year are about an event in time — Jesus being born (Christmas), the arrival of the wise men from the East (Epiphany),Jesus being baptized (Baptism of Jesus Sunday), Jesus being raised from the dead (Easter), the Holy Spirit being poured out on the church (Pentecost). But this special Sunday is not about celebrating a particular event or moment in salvation history. Instead, it’s about a doctrine. It’s about one of the foundational beliefs of the Christian Church. It’s about Trinity — the teaching that God is three, traditionally expressed as Father, Son, and Spirit, but that God is still just one God. Now apart from the fact that it’s very difficult to work out the math, it’s a difficult topic to preach about because the contours of the argument are extremely subtle. The greatest intellects in the world have had trouble with this one, so there’s not much chance of me explaining it this morning. We had a lovely morning last Saturday at the Women’s Breakfast at Smitty’s. About 20 women gathered for breakfast, conversation, and a little study. The women from McKercher had planned the bible study, and chosen the topic of Trinity. We began with one of those children’s story-type metaphors for understanding the Trinity. God is like an apple. It has skin, flesh, and … Read more »

April 26, 2009

Genesis 1:26-31a Psalm 8 1 John 4:7-21 John 13:12-15, 34-35 I’ve never had a guitar lesson, per se. I learned to play a few basic chords on the guitar and to strum along to the beat of the music when I was 17 and I was working in the kitchen at the Presbyterian camp. The first song that I learned to play on the guitar was this one… sing along if you know it… Lead me, Jesus; I will follow,down the dusty pathways, all along the sea. Teach me, Jesus, to be loving: your disciple I will be. I’ve sung that song so many times over the years since then. And whenever I sing it, I wonder about what it might have been like to be one of Jesus’ disciples… one of his first disciples who travelled with him along the dusty roads, beside seashores and through little villages… shuffling through the crowds, and stopping to touch and to pray for the sick, listening and questioning, wondering about home and family, anticipating the next day’s adventure, sharing food & wine among friends and strangers, and meeting all kinds of unusual people. I imagine what it must have been like for his disciples not to know what would happen the next day, where they would end up, who they would meet along the way, what Jesus would ask them to do, or what surprising things he might teach them. In this season of Easter, I think about the unbelievable choices and … Read more »

May 30, 2010

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15 Welcome to Trinity Sunday. Every year, the first Sunday after Pentecost is marked as Trinity Sunday. I suppose it makes sense that after celebrating the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit onto the disciples of Jesus, it becomes necessary to start thinking about the nature of God. The God who was once experienced and known primarily as the holy and powerful lawgiver and judge, has been revealed to a group of Galilean Jews as a simple man from the town of Nazareth. That was shocking enough in itself – that many of the people who followed Jesus were saying that he was divine. It was the kind of faith statement that got people shouting “blasphemy!” at you, and it could get you in real trouble with the religious authorities. But now, since the day of Pentecost, God seemed to be present and active in a totally new way. God was somehow working through the disciples themselves… it was like God’s Spirit was within them… giving them wisdom and power and confidence to continue Jesus’ work. They were communicating with foreigners. They were preaching about Jesus. They were full of confidence and hope and love for everyone they met. Somehow, this was God at work in their lives. God was not only the Heavenly Father, Creator and Ruler of the universe. But God was Jesus the Christ, teaching, healing, welcoming, challenging, and redeeming the world. And God was moving and active, filling … Read more »

June 19, 2011

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a Psalm 8 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 Matthew 28:16-20 Today is Trinity Sunday, the only Sunday in the church year that calls us to ponder a teaching of the church rather than a teaching of Jesus. The scripture readings, of course, are carefully chosen to reflect the Three-in-One doctrine: God as Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. And the readings provide biblical backup for a non-scriptural word: Trinity. Although this mystery of God revealed in three ways is a core belief of Christianity, we struggle to explain it. Monotheistic Christians do back flips explaining why such a belief doesn’t make us polytheists. It sure sounds like we worship three Gods, while we claim that God is One. A reflection on water has often been used to provide insight into this baffling doctrine. At different temperatures, water exists as a gas, as a liquid, or as a solid. Water is one substance, but it has three very different forms. Is that helpful for wrapping our heads around our one God – Father, Son, and Spirit? Perhaps. A Lutheran pastor, Mary Anderson, in a reflection on the Trinity, describes a memorable experience of the Three-in-One. She was watching her grandmother sleep during her afternoon nap. As she contemplated the old woman’s existence, she thought wisely, “That’s Grandmamma, Mamma, and Odelle.” Mary’s grandmother smiled in her sleep as Mary called her by the names used for her by her grandchildren, her daughter, and her husband. Three names, three relationships – and yet … Read more »

May 26, 2013

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15 “A Little Lower than God” Reflecting on the beauty and wonder of God’s creation, the psalmist notices that the Lord has made human beings “a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honour.” There are different emphases within the scriptures, of course, and different perspectives within theology. Some ways of thinking about human nature emphasize the brokenness and sinfulness of human beings. And the good news of God in Jesus Christ is that we are not condemned for our failures, but when we repent and turn to God for help, we are forgiven and freed by the amazing grace of our loving God. But the perspective that seems to come out in today’s psalm is that human beings have great potential for goodness. God has made us “a little lower” than Godself – not perfect, but certainly capable of great things, great creativity, great responsibility. I don’t normally do a lot of quoting from the early Church Fathers in my sermons, but I’ve been reading a lot lately in preparation for the course I’ll be taking next week, and yesterday I just happened to read about Origen of Alexandria’s doctrine of humanity. Origen lived and contributed to the church tradition in the early 3rd century, and as I read his ideas about what it means to be human, they just seemed to fit so nicely with the ideas in today’s psalm: “He argued that God originally created a … Read more »

June 15, 2014

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4a Psalm 8 Matthew 28:16-20 “Entrusted to Us” As many of you know, I spent the last two weeks in Toronto taking a course as part of my doctoral program. The topic of the course was “Theology of Ministry,” and its overall purpose was to assist each of us as students to develop our own theology of ministry as we understand it in our particular contexts and roles in Christian ministry. I titled my preliminary draft paper for the course, “Partners in the Ministry of Christ: A Presbyterian and Ecumenical Theology of Ministry.” My theology of ministry is rooted in a conviction that all Christian ministry is the ministry of Christ. The members of the church – the Body of Christ – all receive different gifts from the Holy Spirit, and are called and equipped to serve God in a variety of ways. Some are called to the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, to Ruling Eldership, or to Diaconal Ministry, and others are called to use their gifts and serve as lay people in a whole host of different ways – through music, teaching, evangelism, hospitality, generosity, healing, and many other ministries of leadership and service. Whenever Christians minister to one another or to the wider world we do so in the name of Christ, and our ministry is a part of Christ’s ministry. Towards the end of my course, we were beginning the morning with prayer and singing, and the scripture that morning was the one … Read more »

May 22, 2016

Listen to this Sermon Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 Psalm 8 Romans 5:1-5 John 16:12-15 “Joy of heaven to earth come down” Welcome to Trinity Sunday – the first Sunday after Pentecost each year. Trinity Sunday is unusual. Most of the special Sundays in the church year are about an event in time – Jesus being born (Christmas), the arrival of the wise men from the East (Epiphany), Jesus being baptized (Baptism of the Lord Sunday), Jesus being raised from the dead (Easter), the Holy Spirit being poured out on the church (Pentecost). But this special Sunday is not about celebrating a particular event or moment in salvation history. Instead, it’s about a doctrine. It’s about one of the foundational beliefs of the Christian Church. It’s about Trinity – the teaching that God is three, traditionally expressed as Father, Son, and Spirit, but that God is still just one God. Now apart from the fact that it’s very difficult to work out the math, it’s a difficult topic to preach about because the contours of the argument are extremely subtle. The greatest intellects in the world have had trouble with this one, so there’s not much chance of me explaining it this morning. I am thinking about the many conversations I’ve had over the years about the Trinity, and I’m especially remembering one that took place at the Women’s Breakfast some years ago. About 20 women gathered for breakfast, conversation, and a little study. The women from McKercher Presbyterian Church had planned … Read more »