Holy Trinity 2013 - Homilies and Stories

Background:

Some Catholic theologians are now arguing that only because God is triune is it possible for Her to relate to us. A God who was one person, they say, would not be capable of relationships. But precisely because He has internal relationships is God able to have external relationships too. It’s kind of a neat idea, but I must leave it to others how it stands up to theological analysis. It does make the revelation of the Trinity seem reasonable. 
 
 Why else would God stun us with this baffling, if dazzling, notion other then to show us that God could love all beings, even as He loves His Self. Our God is not an isolated entity. Rather She is a network of relationships and hence all human networks are actually or potentially grace-full.

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Thomas O’Loughlin

Introduction to the Celebration 

This feast is unique in that the focus of our celebration is not an aspect of the history of salvation, but reflection on the nature of God as we believe it has been revealed to us as Christians. Thus every Sunday is the Sunday of the Trinity, every feast, every action has a trinitarian dimension, and should any prayer be uttered or homily preached which does not include that core of faith — at least tacitly with a conclusion such as ‘through Christ our Lord’ — then we are apostates, have ceased to be Christians and become some sort of vague deists or unitarians who value the ‘message of Jesus’. At the outset of the celebration it is worth reflecting that today’s focus is the very essence of Christian identity. We have just stated that we are acting ‘In the name of the Father…’ and that is a declaration of our basic faith, not just an opening formula. Our aim in today’s liturgy should be to become more sensitive to the tririitarian cues that run right through our religion.

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Michel de Verteuil

General Textual comments 

We meet two kinds of feasts in the liturgy. The most important are the mysteries, incidents in the life of Jesus which we enter into, experiencing them as living again in us – we have just completed the cycle of the Easter mysteries.

Now the Church invites us to celebrate three of the second kind of feasts – the Trinity, Corpus Christi, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

In these feasts we celebrate some aspect of our faith. It is a celebration, therefore, not an academic exercise. Meditating on the gospel texts chosen for each feast helps us enter into it.
It is particularly important to do this for the Trinity, because this doctrine is usually experienced as a mathematical sum to be learnt, rather than good news to be celebrated.

The gospel text for the feast this year will seem forbidding at first. But as with many of the teachings of Jesus recorded in St John’s gospel, if you read it imaginatively you will find that it will come alive.

Feel free to take the passage as you will, but it is good to let it speak to you about the Trinity. Jesus is the model of what believing in the Trinity does for us.

It is helpful to situate the passage in its context: it is a moment of separation, Jesus is giving his followers a last teaching before leaving them.

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John Littleton

Gospel Reflection

Some people mistakenly assume that the Central doctrine (or teaching) of the Christian faith is that Jesus Christ is both divine and human. Others claim that Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the central doctrine. However, while these beliefs are fundamental to Christianity, neither of them is its pivotal doctrine. The core teaching of the Christian faith is the doctrine of the Trinity which is the most overwhelming Christian mystery. The doctrine of the Trinity is Christianity’s answer to the question: who is God?

Essentially, the doctrine of the Trinity teaches us that there are Three Persons in One God. God is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Yet the Father is not the Son or the Holy Spirit, the Son is not the Father or the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is not the Father or the Son. We may well ask: how can there be Three Persons in One God? In human thinking, ‘three persons’ means ‘three individuals’. So how can God be different? One answe is that God is beyond human reason. God is Mystery.

Because the Trinity is Mystery, it has never been possible for the Church to explain it — although, throughout history, the Church has stated the doctrine in its various creeds. Nevertheless, there is much evidence for the Trinity in God’s revelation or self communication.

While there is no explicit doctrine of the Trinity in the Bible, the doctrine is prefigured in the Old Testament when God visits Abraham (see Genesis i8:i- is). But the most significant indications that there are Three Persons in One God is in the New Testament where Jesus stresses the Father’s unconditional love. his own equality with the Father, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to unite and guide his disciples.

Jesus is the fullness of God’s revelation, especially when he teaches that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son to save the world from the consequences of sin. He commissioned his disciples to share the truth they had been taught by him, and that they had begun to appreciate, by baptising and teaching in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Through our experiences we relate to God in different ways. God is our Creator (the Father). But God is also our Redeemer (the Son) and our Sanctifier (the Holy Spirit). As Father and Son and Holy Spirit, God’s love is real. The basic truth about God is that God is love and, in particular, that God is love in Jesus Christ. The relationship between the Son and the Father and the Holy Spirit is a perfect relationship based on equality and mutual love.

We are made in God’s image and likeness. We are challenged to reflect the perfect love that is found in God. This means that we are called to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect. We are asked to be prepared to lay down our lives for our neighbour. We are invited to work at sustaining peace and unity among all God’s people. In summary, we are asked to believe in the God of Jesus Christ: God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit.
So the questions we need to ask on this feast are:
do we believe in the God of Jesus Christ? How God-like are we in our daily lives? Is our love for God and other people perfect, so that our Christian faith is a genuinely Trinitarian faith? Are we living in the Mystery of the Most Holy Trinity? 

Homily Notes

1. There is almost a tradition of beginning homilies today with: ‘this is the most difficult sermon of the whole year’, or ‘this is a mystery and I was never good at dogma in the seminary’, or some such deprecating remark which is ostensibly intended to emphasise that God is mystery, and defensively that actu­ally speaking of ‘things divine’ is more demanding than commenting on the practical implications of belief. However, what is actually communicated is that what follows is really rather irrelevant and that you are only going through with the homily because it’s your job. In that case, no matter what you say,
the congregation have switched off. Every teacher knows that if you tell a class that the next topic is awfully hard to understand, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy; equally, if you tell the assembly that this is all very complicated, then they will decide that it is probably something they can live without – as they have successfully done until now. In any case, what it required is not a mini-version of Augustine’s De Trinitate, but a recollection that to believe as we do, is to believe that in Christ we are caught up into the life of God, he shows us the Father, and sends the Spirit to dwell with us. Your task is not a lecture in dogma (so avoid’ arithmetical theology’ such as ‘I God, 2 processions, 3 Persons, 4 relations, 5 notions’), but to bear witness in the assembly to what we believe to be the basic dynamic of life revealed in Christ.

2. One useful way to raise awareness of that dynamic is to draw people’s attention to the basic structures of the prayers we use in the liturgy.

3. But, first, it is useful to recall what we do not believe. We do not address a ‘God’ as if it is ‘us’ and ‘him over there’, as if our prayers were like letters to a distant ruler. That is a model of the God-humanity relationship that belongs to many religions (indeed it is a constant distraction for us too), but it does not reflect our basic confession. To talk of God as the ‘wholly other’ is to forget that Jesus Christ, the Son, wholly God, is wholly one with us.

4. We believe that we were brought into the life of God by Christ, when we were baptised into him. The Son reveals that he is distinct from the Father, he comes from the Father, he returns to the Father. The Son gathers us and the whole creation into his kingdom which he presents to the Father. The Son sends us the Spirit, the Spirit enables us to grow ‘in Christ’ and to call the Father, our Father. We see this in the opening prayer today: ‘Father, you sent your Word … and your Spirit … through them we come to know the mystery of your life.’ This pattern of ‘from the Father’, ‘through the Son’, ‘in the Spirit’, and ‘to the Father’ can be found in virtually every prayer in the liturgy. A slightly larger example would be Eucharistic Prayer II. We address the Father throughout the prayer, who as the fountain of holiness sends us the Spirit. The Spirit enables us to remember Christ. Then we actually remember Christ and his thanksgiving/ offering (the institution narrative) which he made to the Father. Through the Son we stand in the Father’s presence and serve him, and ask him that as we ‘share in the body and blood of Christ’ we might ‘be brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit’.

5. To be baptised and to believe means that we enter into the trinitarian life of God, we profess this when we recite the creed. But the creed in its reciting form is derivative of the three-fold, question-and-answer form of baptism. This trini­tarian aspect can be brought out more effectively today by replacing the recited creed with a renewal of baptismal promises as on Easter Day (Missal, p 220).

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Points For Reflection: 

1)     Missionary in Africa brings a sundial. Chief insists on putting it in the centre of the village. Later they built a roof over it.

2)     Imageries: St. Patrick – 3 leaves of the clover shamrock on one stem; St Ignatius 3 notes but one sound; water with three forms – ice, steam and liquid; 3 vows of the religious: poverty to the Father, chastity to the Son and Obedience (listen attentively) to the Spirit.

3)     But someone has cleverly noted that, unlike other Christian doctrines, the Trinity is not a truth that leads to action. But rather, like a painting by Monet or a poem by Keats or a symphony by Beethoven, it should point us to prayer or just wonderment. Perhaps it will help us to become the prayers we recite. (Joan Chittister)

4)     Whoever can no longer wonder or no longer is marvel as good as dead. (Einstein)
Our goal today is not to get us into the Trinity but to get the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit into us.

5)     Faith: knowing and loving; lovers, when we know someone we may love or hate that person. Our roots, history and mystery. Bottom line: Trinity Sunday is about where we have come from and where we are going..

6)     Mystery, meaning and message; Mystery: St Augustine and the boy trying to empty the sea into a tin cup. That’s nonsense, impossible, not as impossible as what you are to figure out in your mind.

7)     Man: lived with my wife for the past 55 years, and you think HT is a mystery

8)     Theology: Revelation & Response; God reveals through: creation, inspiration & incarnation; Dt 6, Ex 20; Mt 3 (baptism), 28 (mission)

9)     How inscrutable are your plans & how unsearchable your ways (Paul)

10)  Dr. Henry Morris: The universal testimony: A good illustration of the Trinity comes from world-renowned scientist Dr. Henry Morris. He notes that the entire universe is Trinitarian by design. The universe consists of three things: matter, space, and time. Take away any one of those three and the universe would cease to exist. But each one of those is itself a trinity.

Matter = mass + energy + motion.

Space = length + height + breadth.

Time = past + present + future

Thus the whole universe witnesses to the character of the God who made it (cf. Psalm 19:1).

11)  Sun is 80 million miles away; we can see the rays of the sun and experience the heat; Sun=Father, rays=son & heat=Hspt. Distinct, yet undivided like heat & cold, light & darkness; 1x1x1=1; Magnate; world=sky, earth & oceans; time=past, pr & future, undivided, continuous reality.

12)  Meaning: Unity in diversity; look at the world, we are astounded by the immense variety & diversity in colour, shape, gender, language, food, religions, ways of doing, culture; Masses in so many different rites, styles, but the same Lord, same faith, same baptism…Polish sausage, bagel, curries, ballooth,…
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Homily FROM ACP 

Not such a remote God

There was a time in history when practically all peoples in Europe were more or less agreed about the existence of God. At that time, religious divisions arose from conflicting beliefs about God, and the bitterness between the different groups indicated the intense passion with which they held to their beliefs. This is not the case nowadays. Not only do many openly profess their lack of faith, but the quality of life we pursue tends to promote a kind of atheism in all of us. Especially in our large cities, surrounded by a world of largely human inventiveness, people are at a distance from the things of nature. As a result even the rural-based of our population are bound to feel in some degree God’s apparent remoteness from our situation, God’s silence, remaining hidden to the end of our earthly days.

Today we celebrate the Feast of the most Holy Trinity, the mystery of God’s inner life. This mystery will remain for all of us as long as we live in this world, even though the veil which covers it is lifted ever so little. Our Bible assures us that not only is our God a personal God, but God exists as three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, while remaining one God. Although we cannot even begin to give a logical explanation for this, our faith enables us in some small measure to experience the presence of God. How this can happen is stated by St Augustine in a most beautiful passage from his “Confessions” (p. 211). “What do I love when I love my God?” he asks. Then he continues; “Not material beauty or beauty of a temporal order; not the brilliance of earthly light, so welcome to our eyes; not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self.” “So tell me something of my God,” he asks. And loud and clear they answered, “God is he who made us.”

Seeing God  will change us utterly, and this salvation is a pure gift that always comes from the Father, announced and realised in his divine Son, and made effective in each of us through the action of the Holy Spirit. St Paul tells us that “in one Spirit we have access through Christ to the Father” (Eph 2:18). But the God’s reaching down to us must be answered by the up-reach of our soul to God. To  succeed in this we must break free from the sinful pursuits which hold us captive. Then as Paul says, like mirrors we will reflect the brightness of the Lord, until finally we are changed into that image which we reflect (2 Cor 3:17f). For this great promise, glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, forever, Amen.

The Fullness of Love

The last century was largely dominated by three outstanding figures, Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx. Some have described them irreverently as “the unholy trinity.” They pushed us into the modem world, often in spite of our protests. Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was greeted, particularly by the established churches, with howls of derision, and had to battle hard for recognition. Sigmund Freud opened up the universe of the unconscious and profoundly affected conventional attitudes. The socialist theories of Karl Marx came to dominate one half of the planet and considerably influenced the other. Of the three, only Darwin and his theory of evolution remain intact. Recent events in the Eastern Bloc have largely discredited Marx. The theories of Freud are more and more contested in recent times. Time has taken its toll of “the unholy trinity.”

The Holy Trinity, whose feast we celebrate today, is beyond the reach of time and the grasp of human reasoning. It is a mystery of our faith. We can only fumble in the dark in search of glimmers of light. “Two is company, three is a crowd” is a popular expression. The gospel would have it otherwise. There, the figure three symbolises completeness and perfect symmetry, and re-appears at all the key moments of the Christ story. His life itself constantly reflected the Trinity. Three figures make up the nativity scene in Bethlehem – the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Their first visitors were the three wise men. Later, in the desert preparing to begin his public life, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. A good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. Christ was a storyteller par excellence and three figures prominently in his parables. The Prodigal Son is about a father and his two sons; the Good Samaritan tells of the behaviour of three passers-by, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan; the sower sowed his seed in three different types of terrain, yielding three different levels of harvest. The end of his life, as the beginning, has again the three motif. During his Passion, Peter denied him thrice. On the road to Calvary, he fell three times. The crucifixion scene has three figures, Christ between two thieves. Before his resurrection, he spent three days in the tomb.

God is love. There are Three Persons in the Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Together they represent the fullness of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father. The Holy Spirit is their love for each other. We are made in the image of a triune God. God the Father, who created us, his Son who saved us, and the Holy Spirit who continues to guide us. Our lives should reflect the Trinity. We should be always creative like the Father, compassionate like his Son, and dispose our talents in the service of others like the Holy Spirit. 

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Prayer Reflections

 “Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams.
Think not about your frustrations but about your potential.”
  John Paul II
Lord, as parents and teachers we tend to become self-important
- we think we have to tell our charges everything they need to know,
- preserve them from making mistakes,
- prepare them for every eventuality.
Help us to be humble like Jesus,
knowing that no matter how much we do for people,
there are always things that we still have to say to them,
but these things would be too much for them at this point in their lives.
We need not be anxious about that, because when the time comes,
the Spirit of truth will come and will lead them to the complete truth.

“Someone who knows  his own weakness is greater than someone who sees the angels.” Isaac of Nineveh, Syrian monk of the 7th century
Lord, there are many factions in the Church,
each one thinking they have the complete truth.
Help us to be a Church modeled on your Holy Trinity,
aware that none of us possesses the complete truth since that belongs to you alone.
We do not speak as from ourselves,
but only what we have received from you as your gift.
When we understand that, we can really prepare people for the things to come.

“When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills;
when he shoots to win, he thinks more of winning than of shooting,
and the need to win drains him of power.” 
Tranxu, Chinese sage
Lord, like Jesus, we need not be anxious for success.
Whatever happens in the future will glorify us
since it will be taken from what is ours.
That may seem a presumptuous thing to say, but it isn’t.
We say it because we know that everything you have is ours.

“My son, you are with me always, and all I have is yours.”
The father in the parable of the prodigal son, Luke 15:31
Lord, you treat us like members of your family,
and share everything you have with us.
When we think we must earn goodness by our hard work,
- we become jealous of others;
- angry that they do not recognize what they owe us;
- self-righteous that our words have been proved right.
If, like Jesus, we remember that everything you have is ours,
we rejoice in the gifts of others.

Lord, forgive us that as followers of Jesus,
we think we have a monopoly, or even a first option, on the truth.
Teach us to welcome truth wherever we find it;
remind us that Jesus was not possessive of the truth;
he knew that everything you have is his,
and so everything the Spirit would tell the world until the end of time
would be taken from what was his.

Lord, noble ideals are handed on to us by great people who went before us.
When we strive for those ideals, we glorify them,
since all we do is taken from what is theirs.

“Nothing that happened in Eastern Europe in these last years would have been possible without the presence of this Pope.”   Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, March 1992
Lord, we thank you for Pope Paul II and spiritual people like him.
Guided by the Spirit, they do not speak as from themselves,
but say only what they have learnt, and so they tell the world of things to come.

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ILLUSTRATIONS:

1.     School's out. Summer's here.  

My kids have been waiting for this for weeks. All summer and nothing but swimming, riding their bikes, endlessly playing video games, and vacations. While our kids live in that world this summer we adults will be living in another. There is the economy and the struggle to keep Wall Street and Main Street happy and accountable at the same time. There are conflicts within our nation, not to mention the conflicts between nations. If there is one thing I have learned in life it's that everybody has their own version of the truth.

And we have to try and find the truth among all the truths that present themselves to us. It is very hard these days to know who to believe. Everyone is trying to lead us to their version of truth. In 1997, Nathan Zohner, a 14-year-old student at Eagle Rock Junior High School in Idaho Falls won first prize at the Greater Idaho Falls Science Fair by showing how conditioned we have become to alarmists spreading fear of everything in our environment through junk science. In his project he urged people to sign a petition demanding strict control or total elimination of the chemical "Dihydrogen monoxide" because:
1. It can cause excessive sweating and vomiting.
2. It is a major component in acid rain.
3. It can cause severe burns in its gaseous state.
4. Accidental inhalation can kill you.
5. It contributes to the erosion of our natural landscape..
6. It decreases the effectiveness of automobile brakes.
7. It is found in tumors of terminal cancer patients.
He asked 50 people if they support a ban.
43 said yes
Six were undecided
And only one knew that the chemical is ... water.

Truth. Pontius Pilate asked his wife: What is Truth? It's a question that plagues everyone who tries to do the right thing... 
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2.     "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!"

That was the thunderous directive declared by the "Wizard of Oz" to Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Lion. Dorothy's tiny terrier Toto had pulled back the curtain that kept the true identity of "The Wizard" a secret. Instead of being "Oz, the Great and Powerful," the "wizard" was revealed by the pup to be an ordinary man, a con artist, practicing the art of smoke and mirrors to impress the people with his faked naked powers.

Oz may have been a charlatan, but human beings have always been leery of coming face to face with a greater, non-human power. After they noshed on the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve hid from God in Eden's shrubbery. Moses only saw a burning bush and got a glimpse of God's back on Sinai.

The Israelites constructed an impenetrable portable "safety deposit box" for God's presence they called the "Ark of the Covenant." Violating the no-peeking rule for the Ark resulted in death. Even touching the ark resulted in death. 

When the Temple in Jerusalem was finally constructed, there was a hierarchy of sacred space. There were outer courtyards available to Gentiles and women. There were inner circles available to devout Jewish males. There were sanctuaries and sacrificial altars available only to those in the Levitical priesthood.

 Then there was the "Holy of Holies" where the Ark of the Covenant was placed. The "Holy of Holies" was the innermost sacred space, partitioned off from all human access by corridors, rooms, and finally by a blue, purple and scarlet-colored curtain of privacy.

Once a year the High Priest of the Temple parted the curtains and entered into this "Holy of Holies," this most sacred space where the very presence of God was believed to dwell. No one else could enter into that space. No one else could participate in that presence. No one else could feel the fullness of that power. No one else was deemed worthy. No one. God's audience was very small. The barrier between God's presence and peace and the human condition was insurmountable.

Until Jesus...
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3.     The Trinity Is a Mystery 
The Trinity is a mystery. God manifests himself in three forms--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit--the Creator, the crucified one and the comforter who lives in our hearts. What does it all mean? It's a mystery. The best we can do is use metaphors to try to explain it. 

I like a metaphor that Dr. John Pavelko uses. He compares the Trinity to our current obsession with multi-tasking. He points to some of the multi-tasking products we use, like the 3-in-1 Laser Pointer, Stylus, and Ball point pen he saw advertised. This 3-in-1 pen allows you to work faster and easier, according to the ads. You can enter your data into your PDA with the stylus, then rotate the top and sign a contact with the Ball point pen. When your work is all done you can use the laser to torment your dog.

Then there's the 3-in-1 Cooler, Fan and Ionic Air Purifier by Whirl Wind-Air. It will cool your air through a water sprinkling system, while at the same time freshening the air by releasing negative ions. It also uses a washable strainer to purify the air of all those microscopic particles that plague your allergies. 

Finally, to put all your work into a hard copy, there is the Dell Photo All-In-ONE Printer. It will make copies of your photos, print, fax, scan and photocopy your documents with up to a 50-page auto feeder. 

Dr. Pavelko asks, "With all of these multi-tasking devices, why do we have such difficulty accepting the notion that one God can exist as three persons?" 

Good question. Why as human beings, whose finest minds still can't cure the common cold, do we think we will ever have the ability to understand the workings of God, who is so far greater than we are that we could never fathom His nature?

John H. Pavelko, quoted by King Duncan
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 4.     Our Harbor Master

When a large ship enters a harbor, it takes on board what is called a harbor master. This is a man who knows that harbor; he knows the length of it, he knows the depth of it. He knows where the hazards are. He knows where the tides and currents are; what direction they flow in and how strong they are. When that harbor master comes on board, he takes control of that ship, and he gives order to the captain who steers the ship. He is an outside expert who is brought in to make sure that ship docks safely. 

As we sail through the sea of life, we have been given a harbor master. He is the Holy Spirit. He knows the currents, the tides, the hazards, and the flow. If you will let Him guide the ship of your life, He will guide you safely through the hazards of earth, right into the harbor of heaven. Because He is the only guide you need. 

James Merritt, Collected
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5.     Eternity and Trinity 

Clarence Macartney tells of a certain Canadian river which flows through a forbidding chasm. Looming on either side of the river are rugged, uninviting crags which bear the names "Eternity" and "Trinity." Macartney suggests that the opposing crags invite an analogy (you understand of course, that to a preacher, most everything invites analogy). "Inseparable from any true conception of God," he says, "are always the two doctrines of God's eternity and God's trinity ... The threefold experience of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." The great preacher then goes on to conclude that both doctrines lie helplessly beyond human comprehension.

Larry Powell, Blow the Silver Trumpets, CSS Publishing Company ____________________________

6.     Who God Is  

When I was a student, we had an assignment: "Prove or disprove the existence of God" in ten pages. One clever answer used less than a page, and got top marks for the effort. The student wrote to the effect that the assignment was not possible using the rules of logical proof. For in using the available conventional starting point, we would only be able to use the things that can be observed and verified by human senses within the known created world. All one could do, the argument supposed, in that instance is prove that something in the created world was God. In other words, you could prove that something was God that could not possibly be God. The second part of the argument suggested that in order for such a "proof" to be valid, a student would have to be objective, from the start, about that answer. A student would need not to care if there was or was not a "God". Since everyone has a stake in the answer, one way or another, it was reasoned that such a proof was impossible to attempt.

The point of the exercise was to get the students to think about who or what God is. The reality of the exercise, at least for the student in question, is that we cannot approach the answer through logical thought, through reason alone. Now this is not to say that reason and logic do not have their place in the realm of faith. It is just to say that they alone cannot do the job. The IS ness of God is just too different from our experience to be able to fathom. So the language of the Trinity in the Christian witness may serve mostly to humble us. It serves to remind us that God is indeed beyond our complete comprehension. All the language that we have about God must be metaphor. Most of the language in the bible is just that, with one notable exception: "God is love."

Luke Bouman, Difficult Things
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7.     Oh, Now I Understand

 C. S. Lewis once said that the most frequently spoken word in heaven would be, "OH." As in, "Oh, now I understand." Or, "Oh, now I see what God's plan was." Or, "Oh, now I see the reason for the trial I went through."
We do not have that luxury in this world. We walk by faith, not by knowledge. But one day it will be revealed to us. We will be in the presence of the Father and the Son and the Spirit. How can we be in the presence of all three at the same time? It beats me, but as St. Paul says in another place, "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that He is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me." (II Timothy 1: 12)

 King Duncan, Collected Sermons
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 8.     Kierkegaard's Story of the Prince

 We affirm a belief in the Son, Jesus Christ. We say that God took on human form, came and lived among us, suffered the same trials that we suffered, experienced the same Feelings that we experienced. Jesus was purely human and purely divine. Jesus was not God. Jesus was God incarnate. There is a difference. Jesus never drew attention to himself but always pointed to God.

Soren Kierkegaard, the great Danish theologian of another century tells a story of a prince who wanted to find a maiden suitable to be his queen. One day while running an errand in the local village for his father he passed through a poor section. As he glanced out the windows of the carriage his eyes fell upon a beautiful peasant maiden. During the ensuing days he often passed by the young lady and soon fell in love. But he had a problem. How would he seek her hand?

He could order her to marry him. But even a prince wants his bride to marry him freely and voluntarily and not through coercion. He could put on his most splendid uniform and drive up to her front door in a carriage drawn by six horses. But if he did this he would never be certain that the maiden loved him or was simply overwhelmed with all of the splendor. As you might have guessed, the prince came up with another solution. He would give up his kingly robe. He moved, into the village, entering not with a crown but in the garb of a peasant. He lived among the people, shared their interests and concerns, and talked their language. In time the maiden grew to love him for who he was and because he had first loved her. 

This very simple, almost child like story, written by one of the most brilliant minds of our time explains what we Christians mean by the incarnation. God came and lived among us. I am glad that this happened for two reasons. One, it shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is with us, that he is on our side, and that he loves us. Secondly, it gives us a first hand view of what the mind of God is really all about. When people ask what God is like, we as Christians point to the person of Jesus Christ. God himself is incomprehensible. But in Jesus Christ we get a glimpse of his glory. In the person of Jesus we are told that God, that mysterious other that created the stars and the universe, is willing to go all of the way, to be one of us, talk our language, eat our food, share our suffering die on a cross. Why? So that a single person, you, me, might be redeemed.

And, grow to love Him.

Brett Blair
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9.     A Dependable Guide 

Pastor Michael Walther tells of listening to a radio program (Focus on the Family) about a famous test pilot. This pilot was flying a fighter jet in bad weather and about to make his instrument approach to an airport. The air traffic controller called and asked how much fuel he had. "Plenty," he said. "Well," the controller said, "we've got a little problem. There's a young pilot who is not instrument rated. He's lost in the clouds, and we were wondering if you could intercept him and lead him back to the airport." "Sure," the pilot responded. He found the lost plane and pulled up beside it. He called on the radio and told the pilot to look out to his left. There the pilot of this small plane saw the powerful fighter jet, and the man burst into tears. As far as he was concerned at that point his life was about over. He would soon run out of fuel and crash. "Don't worry," the test pilot said...
 
A group of three young mothers who lived on the same street agreed to pool their time and resources so that they could help each other take care of their kids and at the same time provide one another with a little free time. It worked fine, the kids liked it, the fathers liked it (anything to escape from the demands of child-rearing), and, most important, the women like it. They discovered in practice  what they had heard so often in theory: it’s easier to do things as members of a community than as isolated individuals. They bragged to their friends in other streets about how well their little community worked and how everyone should try to imitate them. But then one of the women began *to tally up the hours she gave the community effort and concluded that she was giving more time than the other two. They added up their own times and concluded just the opposite. Indeed they accused the first woman of making up numbers so she could escape her fair share.

 Since they had all studied economics in college, they began to shout “free rider” at one another. Soon they were not speaking to one another. Their community collapsed under the pressures of success, resentment, and envy – in that order. See, we told you so, said the neighbors on other streets. Later none of the three could figure out what went wrong. (Andrew Greeley)

Prayer to the Blessed Trinity

The following prayer is read slowly by the leader, or by all the people if they have the text. The celebrant concludes with the Prayer after Communion.

Lord God, our Father
you are my God.
Let your wisdom direct me,
your grace keep me,
your love rejoice me,
your truth protect me,
your power guard me.

Jesus Christ, God's Son,
my brother and my Savior.
That you became man
is my joy.
I want to go your way;
your suffering be my victory,
your disgrace my honor,
your death my life,
your resurrection my comfort.

Holy Spirit, God,
you are my comfort,
convert me,
for I am sinful person.
Bring me back to life,
for I am dead.
Awaken me,
for I am sleeping.
Make me ready
for eternal life.
Give light to my mind,
sanctify my will,
give strength to my weak powers.
Be with me,
live in me,
stay with me,
Trinity worthy of all praise.

(Caspar Neumann, about 1700)