Sunday, 11 June 2017

Can't make it to church - Sunday 11th June 2017

Today is 'Trinity Sunday. A day (more often than not) when the person standing up the front and doing the sermon seeks to show how little they understand the Trinity as they confuse their listeners over what the Trinity really is!

The Trinity causes real problems for some because the word is never used in the Bible and so, in their eyes, it's just not right!

Another bunch are going to struggle today becuase the explanation they will use is just plain wrong!
Here are a few wrong 'uns:
1. The Trinity is like a person, who is a son (or daughter), mother (or father), and a husband (or wife),
2. The Trinity is like and egg, which has a shell, a white, and a yolk,
3. The Trinity is like the sun, which also has light and heat,
4. The Trinity is like water, which is liquid, ice or steam,

The problem with the Trinity lies in the problem that what we have is ONE God, not three,and this God is of 'one substance' with three distinct natures or persons.
They are ALL THREE as the same time.
They are all the same substance.

Many of the explanations are modal. Yes, it's water, but it can only be one of the three states any any time. The same goes for the son, father, husband model. They operate in one mode at a time.

The egg, which is quite popular with many, is a real problem becuase whilst it is all, together, called 'egg' - it is made up of three different, and separate, part. One substance? Nah!

The sun explanation is even worse because the heat and light are products of it. This is like saying that God is the Father and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are created by Him. They are not equal, they are created by the Father.

It's about now that some of you will be looking to St Patrick and will be shouting, "God is green and has three leave!" Well first and foremost, this explanation is 'partialism' and many end up giving their audience three gods out of it! The good news is that, as I understand it, St Patrick never used this analogy - so there's a win!

Perhaps this little video might be of assistance - it's one of my favourites:

I like this because it got me thinking about ways of presenting the Trinity - after all, some will be preaching today that, "We don't need to understand the Trinity, we just need to accept and believe it!"

This is wrong teaching: As Christians we need to question, challenge and strive for understanding - after all, we don't leave our brains at the doors, do we?

And the readings? well they're not great defences of the Trinity but they are important.

The Gospel passage (what we call the 'Great Commission') tells Jesus' followers to 'get out there and make disciples' (not converts) 'in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit' (phew, that's handy) - baptising them (that's the membership ritual) and teaching them to 'obey' Jesus' commands (something I find less and less of us doing - we all choose our own way!).

The 2 Corinthians passage is an ending - it calls on us to seek to build the Church (and it surely needs some restoration, doesn't it?) and for us to encourage one another in unity of mind - living in peace with each other.

What can we say about this passage other than the fact that I don't see too much of the stuff called for in the Church I often encounter. A house divided against itself cannot stand - could this be the reason we are doing so badly in some settings?

And if you're nodding - what are you (and me) going to do about it?

So we are left with he Isaiah passage - a promise that God will renew us, strengthening us and enabling us to do the stuff. Doesn't need much explanation this passage, does it?

If we keep God's commands, live and work in unity and make disciples - the strength (and everything else) we need to get the job done will be ours.

Now that's a promise to be claimed, innit?

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging: enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth, and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love, that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Isaiah 40.12-17,27-31
Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who can fathom the Spirit[a] of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?
Whom did the Lord consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding?

Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket; they are regarded as dust on the scales; he weighs the islands as though they were fine dust. Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires, nor its animals enough for burnt offerings. Before him all the nations are as nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

2 Corinthians 13.11-13
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.

Greet one another with a holy kiss.
All God’s people here send their greetings.

Matthew 28.16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.
When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Post Communion Prayer
Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and live and reign in the perfect unity of love: hold us firm in this faith, that we may know you in all your ways and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory, who are three Persons yet one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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