TRINITY SUNDAY 2023
Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20.
May I speak in the name of the Son, to the glory of the Father, in the power of the Holy Spirit. AMEN
“In the beginning, there was a wind from God. And God said, “Let there be light. And there was light.” (Genesis 1:1; 3)
“Let’s start at the very beginning”, sang Julie Andrews’ Maria Von Trapp – “a very good place to start.” Almighty God seems to think so too if we take today’s feast at its word!
This morning we do two significant things in the life of the Church. First, we commemorate with thanksgiving the Holy Trinity – that mysterious truth of the nature and form of God as infinite relational personality: a God who is from the beginning the essence of communicative self-revelation. Second, we keep this feast day more or less at the outset of the liturgical period called “Ordinary Time.” We are, as it were, in the beginning again; we are with God, setting us going again, but for the first time, before all worlds in the almighty breath of the Father’s light and as the logos whom, St Ignatius of Antioch reminds us, is incarnated in the silence of God. And God ensures, says Genesis, that the light is “very good.”
At this point, it perhaps wouldn’t be so wide of the mark to quote the Fab four once again. After all, you’re getting used to me mentioning ABBA in my sermons by now! And yet again, their lyrics seem to come up trumps for us on the cusp of today’s celebration, resembling as it does something like the juxtaposition of a ‘Happy New Year’ and a ‘Bang-a-boomerang’, who, in giving themselves away, exemplifies the ultimate meaning of what love is: “By giving away”, Agneta tells us, “…you’ll learn, you’ll get love in return…”
This radical self-giving initiative is what is most fully expressed, generated and regenerated at the centre of the Triune economy. Here is centripetal mission baptising, commissioning and glorifying ‘the beginning’ – ordinary time – in the glorious name of love: love who is the centre of God’s very self. The Word, as The Book of Wisdom has it, who leaps down out of silence; the communique of Very God and the fulfilment in uncreated sight – of all the law and the prophets.
Today, we are pledged with that light by Him who sends Him to participate again and anew in that creative, generating and regenerating way of living and being as those who hear the vocation of the Divine Majesty, for the sake of all those who need to find or to discover their beginning in this uncreated light of life.
In this light’s power, all creation can behold as it is made to do, some pure glimpse of that new world that comes to us without end: the world presented to us uncreated, yet pre-existent, which is offered in the life of flesh and blood created and worn by the one and only Word of the Father who is with Him in the kinesis of His own breath – his own inspired Spirit from the beginning – from today until the end that is eternally without end, and who oxygenates with them both, the whole cosmos, with the ruach of resurrection.
So this economy is ordained in the beginning. This economy, this life-giving givenness who was and is and evermore shall be divine perpetuity. The divinity that becomes us from our first beginning and beholds us as George Herbert may say, from “[our] first entrance in.”
How does the Church receive and foster that becoming divine? Do we worship the unity within the diversity of which we are part? The Gospel message teaches that to do this is indeed the heart of the imago Dei. God communicates Godself in the kaleidoscopic varieties of infinitude: “Christ play[ing] in 10000 places,” and to paraphrase Hopkins further, “refracting the features of human faces” in our each wonderful difference, even as we are being “gathered to a greatness” as unique gospel-rays of the grandeur of God. The beauty of holiness and the meaning of love is discovered in the unstoppable motion of self-giving, kenotic exchange beheld at the starting-point with God whose logos is from the beginning with Him: God who beholds all that God has made. And sees that it is indeed very good.
What is it that we are to do with such a gift? Or what shall we give in return for it?
Are we still making all that love can do too narrow by false limits of our own? Are we those who magnify His strictness with a zeal he will not own? Ongoing arguments beneath the umbrella of “Living in love and Faith” might suggest so within the Church, forasmuch as they appear to be making progress; still they problematize those who are different from us whilst neglecting to hear their prophecy and receive their exchange. It seems we can quickly and easily forgo the voice of the pneuma when we hold too tightly to the standard of a zeal that distorts and calls itself conscience. The mystery before us can offer a more excellent way, however, for rather than confound and displace those whom God is calling with a talkative Christian ethics, today would rather celebrate, flourish and fulfil us all in a singular embrace of Love’s personhood: the living, moving, breathing Word made flesh who is outwith all words; whose communication brings life and immortality themselves to light.
And this embrace transfigures any false-limits we might impose. For the love and faith of embodied relationship are broader than the measure of man’s mind. And in today’s feast – love speaks eternally – for the Shekinah cannot deny itself; love refuses to be mocked or grasped, to have the truth of its tongue held or to be manipulated by the terms of discussion, negotiation or agenda.
Instead, we see love this morning in endless generative exchange; we receive it in tangible creatures of bread and wine for the first 10000th time as Eucharist for all that has been in the ‘yes’ of all that is and is to come; we behold all its blessed assurance it in the sacramentality of the Divine Majesty’s power, as it compels us to taste and see grace made actual and to stand on the edge of that integrated next world whose glory we already await and embody but cannot yet see: a holy nation which promotes unity’s self and makes all the oneness of God possible.
That deepest freshness whose gift is truth lies around and within us; here in our hands and upon our lips; it is lovely in eyes and limbs neither His nor ours, but discerned and formed and released in the purity of equal possession – where hopes and fears in fact, cancel out, as they are distilled in the identity of eternity’s perfect image, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be.
Love speaks to the Church at the level of infinite relationality. – The Church’s vocation calls her – calls us by extension – into that state too. We are to be a people so fluent in the linguistics of relationship that we can’t help but nurture others into its orbit, to be its lexicon, and to grow up in every way into the communion of their own undistorted becoming.
Trinitytide challenges the Church in every season to catch up with herself – to catch onto herself and to be rekindled and re-presented for release into the transforming fire of the Godhead whose resurrection beginning is dawning upon the world – divinizing all things with a new heart and a new Spirit in the power – and Eros – of their own invention.
He was “In the beginning with God.” It is a very good place, therefore, to start. It is here to where we all are invited to come and see and learn and share. This is what communities – the community – of the resurrection looks like; this is its genesis and revelation imminent in the midst of us and welcoming us in in the only way that unmerited gift can: as unmerited gift. “By giving away.. we’ll learn… we’ll get love in return,” ABBA sing. Love playing in 10000 places is a many- splendid thing whose life and power will surely set the world on fire. But it awakens first and foremost in us as we dare to give ourselves to the unknowability of its freedom and join the dance of God’s song.
The green-gold of ordinary time refracts the vulnerability and the promise of all our sacred story as we worship once more the sublimity of its Head with the glorious gospel-ray that characterises our faith, and lets there be light.
The Church – we – must decide or not to let that light, whose nature and name is love – play on in us t0 the Father’s praise as we seek with the merciful eyes of faith to negotiate the Babel-sounds of this passing age and echo a more excellent, silent music.
On Trinity Sunday, He comes again to sing His living Word within us, that we may bear their unity of Spirit to all in the bond of peace, and offer the world the very good beginning for which its people cry: the resurrection joy and justice that is predestined, beheld and received to us for the salvation of many in the truth-telling of its own Eros, the mysterious 3:1, who lives and reveals Themselves to bring us together in ordinary time to the holy communion of His glorious body – that wonderful and sacred mystery – whose light, the Lamb, has arisen among us as a lexicon of loving sacrifice – and whose Kingdom reigning within – exalts each of us to the beginning that has no end.
As those who worship in Spirit and truth, can the blessed Sacraments of such a unity ever keep from singing?
+In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. AMEN