This sermon was given by our ALM Carol on Sunday 16 June. You can read it again here:
God – we gather in your presence. Father – we long for more of you. Jesus – we place you at the centre. Holy Spirit – come and fill our time together. Help us to be fully present here, to your word, to one another, and to the world you love. May I speak in the Name of the Son, in the Power of the Holy Spirit, and to the Glory of God the Father, one Holy Trinity
Some of you will have noticed that I am wearing a shamrock/clover leaf today, for Trinity Sunday. Why, you might ask, is the clover leaf a reminder to me of the Trinity. Well, is it one leaf (it only has one stalk) or three leaves, joined together by one stalk? I like to think one leaf but with three parts exactly like God – one person – three parts Father, Son and Holy Spirit – as your picture shows. Simply, I am known as Carol, but also as Sister, Mum, Nan, three different names but still the same one person, me.
In Lent, which seems in the distant past now, during our Consumer Detox course the Trinity came up then, which goes to show how the liturgical seasons are connected. A question in the book was, why is self-giving at the heart of everything? Answer – It’s the Trinity’s fault. The persons of the trinity love giving. They’re always at it. The Father constantly upholds the son and the spirit. The Father gives the son to the world. The son gives to the spirit. The son offers his life back to the Father. The spirit pours out his presence on creation and so on.
Just as Wisdom, in our first reading, was there at the beginning of creation the Spirit is here now watching over us and guiding us into the future. Last week we heard from Christine about the fruits or gifts the spirit gives us, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Certainly, I feel I have experienced gifts from the spirit in my ministry. Who else gives me the inspiration, the desire, the love as an ALM. Who guides me in my prayers and services, who helped me write these words this morning? Yes, the Spirit sent by the Father and the Son. All three in one.
‘Sharing’ is an important word when considering the Trinity. The three persons live in the love of sharing their truth and sharing all they are. Prayer introduces us to the mystery of God, of truth and of gift. Prayer is our time of allowing the gift of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to reach deeply into our lives. Each day at the beginning of Peregrini Prayer, we always focus our minds on God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In the space of five verses, our 2nd reading for Trinity Sunday mentions God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. We have peace with God. This peace, as well as access to grace, has come through Jesus Christ. Moreover, God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The Son gives us access to God’s glory and the Spirit pours out God’s love for us. It also includes hope and love. Peace, hope, love; 3 things given to us by our Father.
Our Gospel today begins with Jesus’ observation that “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” What are they? Tell us. We want to know. We can take it. We have heard about so many things from you. You told us that we are to be merciful, pure in heart, and peacemakers. You explained that we should not worry. You reminded us that we are to love God and love our neighbour. And you told us that things would not always be easy or go smoothly for us. What else can you possibly tell us? What did we miss?
In this brief portion from Jesus’ farewell sermon we are not told what those many things are, only that Jesus will not tell us. But we are told that, in the future; in the unfolding of time, we will know what they are and how we will hear of them. It is the Spirit of truth who will guide us, speak to us, and declare to us all what we need to know. We are given a portrait of the three persons of the Trinity. Jesus speaks of himself, of the Spirit’s activities, and of the Father.
The Holy Trinity is one of those difficult, challenging, thought-provoking doctrines of our faith. But we should not think of it as an exam question that must be answered before we will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. Nor is the Trinity an IQ test. It is the Christian way of speaking about God, and what it means to participate in the life of God through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. So, in preparation for that day, I am keeping track of questions that I want answered. I suspect you may have a question or two yourself! So much seems unanswered – but I think that is the beauty of Christianity. We are always learning, just as child is always learning, by asking questions, after all, we are the children of God.
It is during his farewell message that Jesus most fully explores and explains the Spirit that he was to give to his disciples: “He breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit’”. It is in this message and prayer that Jesus weaves the connection between God, the Father, himself, and the Spirit. Three working as One.
Don’t we know God the Father because we have known Jesus first, His only Son who came to live amongst us? In his prayer Jesus reminded us, “you, Father, are in me and I am in you . . . so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them”. Jesus taught — “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works” — Jesus speaks the words of the Father, and the Spirit. Jesus says the Spirit “will not speak on his own but will speak whatever he hears”. The Father speaks to Jesus, who speaks to the Spirit, who will guide us into the truth.
The question we are left with is whether we will listen to the Spirit and be open to newer and deeper understandings of our faith and to the implications of Jesus’ revelation for us today.
Can we trust the Spirit to guide us in discerning what it means to live out Christian faith today? As our journey through life continues, the Holy Spirit gradually unfolds God’s message at appropriate times in our lives. When we most need it, so we can pass this on to future generations.
This brings me back to the cloverleaf. When we try to tell our children about the Trinity use this three-leaf clover as an example, so that they will remember God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit joined as one. Maybe next time you come across clover in a field pick one as a Trinity reminder. If you are lucky enough to find a four-leaf clover, just add yourself or a loved one on the 4th leaf. It helps even the little ones to get it.
You can see why the shamrock or clover leaf reminds me of the Trinity.
I finish with the words written on your picture:
- Just like the leaves on each shamrock I see,
- There are three parts to the Holy Trinity.
- First is God the Father, then Jesus His only Son,
- With the Holy Spirit together, they are Three in One.
Let us pray these words from Christ Before Me by Stuart Townend
- Love, blessed Trinity of three,
- bound in unity, who guides my journey.
- I will arise with strength of heaven
- trusting in Your light to guide my journey.
- Shine before me, lead me home.
- Power to guide me, might to hold me,
- Wisdom teach me, watching o’er me.
- Ear to hear me, hand to guard me,
- Love to conquer every fear.
- Shine before me, lead me home.