It is good to be together! Not all of us can be here this morning. And those of us who are here can’t come face to face. But the fact that we can come together at all, even in this limited way, is an encouraging reminder that the Church remains open and active even when our building is closed. And for that, I give thanks to God.
I will come back to what I think this service represents in just a moment. But first I need to take a little detour.
My poor family members are routinely victims of my tendency to detour. Although none of us much fish, they use a fishing metaphor. They complain that in my detours I cast a long way out. To which I always reply that I will eventually reel it back in. That’s my promise this morning.
But I need to cast into some deep theological waters. Today is Trinity Sunday. Today we are invited to reflect on the greatest mystery of our faith, the mystery of one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, fully equal and perfectly united.
The question on which we meditate every Trinity Sunday is what our faith in a Triune, a Trinitarian God tells us about our own nature as human beings and about the Christian life to which we are called.
We get our first glimpse—just a glimpse—of the mystery of the Trinity in the very first verses of the Bible at the very beginning of creation itself. Our translation doesn’t emphasize the Trinity, so I have changed it slightly to make the Trinitarian significance of the passage a little clearer.
“In the beginning, when the one God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep. God’s Holy Spirit swept over the face of the waters. And God the Father brought forth the divine, creative Word, saying, ‘Let there be light.’ And there was light.”
Creation goes on from there, of course. But that’s enough for the moment.
Here’s the point. Creation itself is a Trinitarian act. The one God creates all things. But the three persons are visible in the act of creation. All things come from the Father. The Father’s Holy Spirit is at work over the face of the waters. And God the Father creates all things through God’s Word, the only Son of the Father, who we know incarnate in Jesus Christ. Three persons, in perfect unity, doing God’s work. Hold that thought.
God speaks again at the end of the creation story. “God says, ‘Let us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make humankind in our image, according to our likeness….So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
We, who are created in the image and likeness of God, are created to reflect God’s own nature. Like God, we are separate persons. But also like God we are created for unity with each other, unity grounded in love and the Holy Spirit.
At least, that is how it is supposed to be. But sin enters the picture. The first family, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, was not united at all. One son kills the other. The image of God in us, that image of separate persons united to each other in love, is badly damaged. And human history is off and running.
Thankfully, Christ comes to repair the damage of our sin. In a new act of creation, Christ restores the image of God in us. And so we are baptized, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We, who are separate persons and divided by sin, are redeemed by Christ and reunited with each other and with God by the Holy Spirit. We who are many are made one in the body of Christ. As we say at the beginning of our baptismal service, we are formed into “one Body and one Spirit,” with “one hope in God’s call to us, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [with] one God and Father of all” (BCP, 299).
I am reeling it in. It is good to be together this morning not just because it is good to see each other, though that is certainly true. It is good to be together on this Trinity Sunday because we are created in the image of one God in three persons who are perfectly united with each other. It is good to be together this morning because we belong together, because coming together in worship is part of what makes us who we are.
I am particularly glad to come together, and I am glad to celebrate Trinity Sunday, and I am glad to be reminded that we are created for each other, and I am glad that we can make our own small statement about Christian unity, at this moment.
Our nation has been divided for a long time. But our divisions are more visible now than ever.
When the pandemic first hit Massachusetts, people responded with inspiring resilience, kindness, and generosity. That still happens among neighbors and friends.
But then the temperature of our political discourse started to rise. The challenges are certainly real. But instead of having difficult conversations about the health risks of reopening versus the economic and psychological risks of remaining closed, people began taking sides, as if we weren’t all in this together. Our fragile unity began to fray.
Now throw into the mix the murder of George Floyd, which exposed once again long unresolved problems of racism, anger, and pent-up violence.
That is where we are as a nation right now.
But we are here, the people of Saint David’s, coming together as best we can. We are here on this Trinity Sunday because we are created in the image and likeness of one God in three persons, perfectly united. We are here as a community of faith because we are many who have been incorporated into the one body of Christ. Our presence here this morning is a witness to Christian unity.
Our presence here this morning, and I include in our “presence” those who join us on Facebook or YouTube, as well as those who are united with us in spirit even if they are not able to join us in worship, our presence here this morning matters, because this is a time for every American to emphasize, each in his or her own way, what unites us.
In our small way, our presence here at Saint David’s this morning exemplifies the motto chosen by our founding fathers, and printed on our currency: e pluribus unum, out of many, one. Our presence here this morning, physical and virtual, expresses our continuing commitment to the words with which our national Constitution begins: “We the people of the United States” come together “in order to form a more perfect union….”
As Christian people, we are called to join in God’s mission, to strive for justice and peace, to respect the dignity of every human being, to be peace-makers, to work at reconciliation, and forgiveness, and love. That is always our calling. But our calling is more important now than ever.
And so I am grateful this morning for the opportunity be with you as we worship our God, and as we proclaim our unity with each other and with all people in God. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of us and with our nation. In Christ’s name. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Harvey Hill
Third Order Franciscan