Holy Trinity A 2014

Links to earlier posts:
Some Stories: (More Stories at the bottom or at:

The story is told of a priest sitting in an airport waiting for his flight. A fellow killing time struck up a conversation. Said he, "Father, I believe only what I can understand. So, I can't buy your Trinity. Perhaps you can explain it to me." The priest reluctantly put down The New York Times. "Do you see the sun out there?" "Yup." "OK, it's 80 million miles away from us right now. The rays coming through the window," said the priest, "are coming from the sun. The delightful heat we are enjoying on our bodies right now come from a combination of the sun and its rays. Do you understand that?" The fellow answered, "Sure,  padre." "The Trinity," the priest went on, "is like that. God the Father is that blazing sun. The Son is the rays He sends down to us. Then both combine to send us the Holy Spirit who is the heat. If you understand the workings of the sun, its rays, and heat, why do you have difficulty believing the Trinity?" The man said something about catching a flight and was off.  

He recalled the husband, who said when he became a father, he better understood the Trinity. When he and his wife had their son, they had evidence of their love for each other. There was the lover, the beloved, and the love, each distinct and yet one. 
I enjoy the playful description of Daniel Durken of the Trinity. The Father played creator and was overjoyed that the world turned out so attractively. The Son played redeemer and put everything right again in the wounded world by stretching out His arms on a cross. The Spirit played sanctifier. He made room in the heart of each of us for the Trinity. "Today," says Durken, "the Trinity invites us to keep playing with them this delightful game of life and love." And why not?  We have nothing to lose but our chains. 

Father James Gilhooley
Some Quotes: 

"To try to deny the Trinity endangers your salvation, to try to comprehend the Trinity endangers your sanity." Martin Luther
Tertullian on the Trinity 

Tertullian, one of the theologians of the early church, explained the Trinity in a metaphor. God the Father he described as "a deep root, the Son as the shoot that breaks forth into the world, and the Spirit as that which spreads beauty and fragrance." Brett Blair,
Faith and Knowledge

Faith and knowledge are two different things. Faith makes us into obedient servants, but knowledge only makes us trivia experts. It's as if Jesus is saying, "Hold your questions to the end. Right now your primary task is loyalty and obedience."  Kenneth W. Collins, The Great Commission
Our faith: It is a relationship of Trust and commitment.

“Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.” (Augustine.) 

Our experience of God leads us to an understanding of God. Theology seeks to understand the truth God has revealed to and through the experience of his people. Definition of Theology: Faith seeking understanding.

l  Experience is how we ENCOUNTER God
l  Theology is what we KNOW of God
l  Spirituality is how we LOVE 

Thomas O’Loughlin
Introduction to the Celebration

We have just blessed ourselves and declared that we are gathering in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I have just wished you welcome by wishing you ‘the grace of Jesus Christ’; then wishing you ‘the love of God’ the Father; and then wishing you ‘the fellowship of the Holy Spirit’. Whenever we gather or pray we are talking about the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. It is this mystery that God is Father, Son, and Spirit that we are called on to reflect on today. As we move through today’s celebration, listen out for just how often we will call on ‘Father,’‘Son,’ and ‘Spirit.’
Michel de Verteuil
General comments

The feast of the Trinity is classed in the Church’s calendar as a “solemnity”. I have sometimes heard it called “the climax of the liturgical year”. This is an unfortunate expression which betrays a misunderstanding of liturgy – and of our relationship with Jesus.

 As I pointed out last week the focus of the Church’s liturgy (and of our lives as Christians) is always Jesus, not primarily as a teacher but as a person who like us lived in particular historical circumstances and responded to particular challenges as he met them.

 This is why the Church’s main liturgical feasts are also the main events of Jesus’ life:

 - his birth and childhood at Advent and Christmas;
 - his preaching in Lent;
 - his passion and death at the Sacred Triduum;
 - his resurrection culminating in the ascension and the sending of the Spirit, at Easter.

 These events, as I also showed last week, are not particular to Jesus; they are “mysteries” – like the mysteries of the Rosary. This means that he now lives them in his followers and in the church, so that we do not merely look at or admire them, but “celebrate” them as stories of Jesus, recognising them from our own experience (or the experience of others) and letting them lead us to become ever more like him. We apply to liturgical feasts the words of the popular prayer at the end of the Rosary; “we imitate what they contain and hope to obtain what they promise”.

H trin In the liturgy then, “doctrinal feasts” like the Trinity are always subordinate to “events-feasts” like Christmas, the Sacred Triduum and Easter. The Vatican II Decree on the Liturgy made this clear: “The minds of the faithful should be directed primarily to the feasts of the Lord, whereby the mysteries of salvation are celebrated throughout the year” (No 108).

 The doctrine of the Trinity emerged in the Church very gradually  after several centuries of meditation on the life of Jesus. We do not need to make that journey again – the Trinity is now a doctrine of our faith. It remains true however that the best way to approach the Trinity is by meditating on Jesus, how he faced life and related with people.

 This is how we approach today’s feast, and the gospel reading. We meditate on Jesus responding to a concrete situation – he converses with Nicodemus who has come to him “by night” because he is afraid of the Jews. Our meditation reveals him as a totally free person, his freedom rooted in his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, the fact that he was a “Trinitarian person” – as we too are called to be. 

The reading comprises several “themes” which are intertwined and run through the entire passage. We can identify three such “themes”.

- Jesus sees his mission as bringing “eternal life” and “salvation” to those who are “lost”. These are traditional expressions, almost clich├ęs. We must make a real effort to let them come alive through meditation.

“Eternal life” is in contrast with “temporary life”. It means a life that can survive every form of death, failure in relationships or the work place, defeat and  humiliation, the loss of a loved one. We remember people (ourselves included) being “lost” – insecure, adrift, without  guidance – and then moving to being “saved” (safe) – the feeling of security, the tremendous relief of finding one’s way after having drifted for a long time.

- The next two themes answer the question, how did Jesus keep his mission truly  “life-giving” and “saving”? The first answer is that he was conscious of his mission not originating in himself – he was the “ son” who had been “given to the world” by the “Father”, a loving gift, as precious as an only child to its parents. Our meditation must make the expression “only son” come alive. It means “very dear son”, conjuring up memories of only children, of how their parents dote on them, and how they grieve over them when they die prematurely.

 Jesus’ sense of himself as “beloved son” (a “sent person” as in many other gospel passages), keeps him focussed on his mission. It removes any possessiveness; he loves selflessly.

- Then there is the theme of “condemning”.  It is not an expression we like; for us it connotes self-righteousness and writing off people. On the other hand it is a theme (like God’s anger) that is central to the bible. If we ignore it (throwing out the baby with the bath water) the message of Jesus loses its “muscle”, becomes an innocuous, take-it-or-leave-it affair. We must keep the theme of “condemning” therefore, just making sure that we purify it of wrong interpretations. The following are some conclusions.

 a) Jesus (like his followers to the extent that they are true to him) is conscious that he poses a challenge to the world, one that requires a response. Those who refuse to accept him (to “believe in the name of God’s only son”) must also accept the consequences -  “condemnation”.

b) We human beings are not responsible for “condemning”. When we take on that responsibility,  we inevitably  find ourselves condemning,  not in the name of God but of our prejudices and narrow-mindedness. It is highly significant then that Jesus says he was sent “not to condemn”.

c) Because God has created us free we ourselves are the only ones who have the right to condemn. It is the  consequence of God’s breathing his Spirit on us. A practical example – if Nicodemus is afraid to come in the daylight, as far as Jesus is concerned he is free to come at night. Note that this freedom has another side – we are not in bondage to the judgment of others.  Cf St Paul 1 Cor 4, 3: “Not that it makes the slightest difference to me whether you or indeed any human tribunal find me worthy or not”. 

The feast is the occasion for us to pray for the grace (for the Church and for us as individuals) of a “Trinitarian spirituality”.
- Awareness of God as Father so that we stand in his presence with awe and never think we can possess or control him.
- Consciousness that in Jesus we are sons and daughters of God, sharing in his divinity, so secure in ourselves that others feel “safe” in our presence.
 - Awareness of the Spirit at work in others so that we will respect the freedom of each person especially those who disagree with or are different from us.
Truly we need to “celebrate” the Trinity.

Prayer Reflection 

“God is gracious and and so graciously does he seize our hearts in order to draw them
 on, that he in no wise impairs the liberty of our will. “  St Francis of Sales  

Lord, we thank you that you have sent us into the world  as parents, teachers,
 managers, community leaders, ministers in the Church community.
 We thank you for the times when we feel secure in your love,
 as secure as an only child is secure in the love of its parents,
 so that we feel no desire to condemn,
 are only concerned that those whose lives we touch do not feel lost,
 on the contrary feel safe and can live their lives to the full. 

“I am disarmed of the will to overcome, to justify myself at the expense of others, I am no longer on the alert jealously guarding my riches.”   Patriarch Athenagoras
Lord, forgive us as members of your Church,
 that we are quick to condemn those who are different from us
 - in race or ethnicity
 - in mores
 - in faith or religion.

 Remind us that like Jesus you want us to be a saving presence
 in  your world that you love so much,
 not condemning but at the same time challenging our contemporaries
 to make the choice for life rather than condemnation.

“You know when you have met a saint; instead of feeling inferior you feel enormously
 affirmed.”         Margaret Hebblethwaite, meeting Cardinal Arns

 Lord, we thank you for the great people you have sent into our lives,
 who touched us so deeply that we felt that you had given us a precious gift.
 We sometimes refuse to accept the values they teach us, but they leave us free.

“It is not for me to win you round, I have only to say no to you.”     Jean Anouilh
 Lord many people in our world are lost, feel they are going nowhere,
 that life is not worth living:

 - drug addicts wandering aimlessly through the streets;
 - once successful businessmen who have lost their jobs and sit at home doing nothing;
 - families suddenly orphaned;
 - a community floundering under corrupt leadership.

 Forgive us that as Jesus’ followers we leave them in their lostness
 and at times add to their lostness by condemning them.
 Remind us that you gave us to them as your gift,
 given out of your great love for them,
 and your will is that we should so befriend them
 so that they can begin to feel safe again and to live to the full.

“No one possesses the truth, we all seek it”.  Bishop Pierre Claverie. Dominican Bishop  murdered in Algeria

 Lord, help your Church to recognise truth as your beloved possession, your only child,
 which you have entrusted to the world
 so that we may not be lost but may have eternal life.

Homily notes

1. Go back through the second reading and note how Paul’s relationship with Jesus – Jesus is Lord – leads him to adopt a way of speaking of God as Father which Jesus had taught his followers. Moreover, Jesus had spoken of sending the Spirit and so the Spirit too is spoken of as ‘Lord’.

2. Paul is adopting a formula already in use within the churches, it is a formula that speaks of the relationship we Christians have with God: we live and move and have our being in God the Father, God the Son our Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Spirit. 

3. We do not accept ‘the trinity’ within our minds in the way we accept other religious notions such as ‘God loves us.’ The mystery of the Father, Son and Spirit is the mystery of God and as such cannot be comprehended by a created mind. Rather, we accept this as part of the gracious revelation of God and respond in the way of Jesus: him we address as Lord; with him we call on the Father; from him we accept the Spirit.

John Litteton
Gospel Reflection 

Talking about God is invariably difficult because we need to use finite language and concepts to describe that which is infinite. When describing God, we are essentially describing the indescribable. 

The most serious problem frustrating our reflection and discussion is the problem of religious language. Because human language is unable to express the totality of the mystery of God, we frequently resort to using images, metaphors and analogies when speaking about God. Human words are always necessarily limited.

 Christian faith believes that there is one God, accepting that God is unique and indivisible. Accordingly, God is Supreme Being who is beyond description and on which all else depends. God is unchanging, all-powerful and all-knowing. God is often described rather impersonally as the Unmoved Mover and the Ground of Being. Saint Anselm (1033-11O9AD) argued that God is ‘that than which nothing greater can be conceived’. Thus God is beyond, separate and remote from nature, history and humanity. God transcends human and earthly reality. 

Yet, God is also referred to in a very personal way as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Gen 32:9), who is unconditionally loving and merciful. God even reveals a personal name, YHWH, to Moses (see Exod 3) and has an affinity with his people. God is so close to creation and his people that his abiding presence is with them. The principal manifestation of God’s intimacy is the partnership relationship that he has with his people, whereby he is their God and they are his people. 

The simultaneous remoteness and familiarity of God provide Christians with a real dilemma because the terms are mutually exclusive in human reasoning. God’s unity and uniqueness are stressed throughout the Old Testament. However, the fuller selfrevelation of God’s nature is not revealed until the New Testament account of the Incarnation. 

Unlike Judaism and Islam, which also claim to believe in one God, revelation teaches Christians that, at the Incarnation, God became human, adopting our human nature, in the person of Jesus Christ. John’s Gospel records that ‘the Word was made flesh, he lived among us’ (Jn 1:14) and that God established the closest possible relationship with humankind in Christ who is both divine and human. Consequently, Christians cannot speak about God without also referring to Christ. This is the uniqueness of the Christian perspective on revelation. 

The Holy Spirit enables us to be in communion with Christ, yet the Holy Spirit has been active from the beginning of creation. The Holy Spirit mediates revelation, enkindles faith and nourishes the life of grace. Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit and promised to send it to his followers. This promise was fulfilled on Pentecost and the Holy Spirit still remains with the Church, keeping it holy and faithful to God’s revelation.

For Christians, God is loving and merciful and has been revealed as Three-Persons-in-One: Father and Son and Holy Spirit. On Trinity Sunday, we recognise the most fundamental mystery of Christianity and we worship God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. 

1.     From the Connections:  

As Ordinary Time resumes, two “solemnities of the Lord” are celebrated on the next two Sundays.  Today’s celebration of the Trinity originated in France in the eighth century and was adopted by the universal Church in 1334.  The solemnity focuses on the essence of our faith: the revelation of God as Creator, the climax of his creation in Jesus the Redeemer, the fullness of the love of God poured out on us in the Sustainer Spirit.

Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin, comes under the cover of darkness to meet the remarkable Rabbi he has heard so much about.  In their discussion in today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of the need to be reborn “from above” and of the great love of God who gives the world his own Son, not to condemn humankind but to save it. 


Today we celebrate the essence of our faith manifested in our lives: the loving providence of the Creator who continually invites us back to him; the selfless servanthood of the Redeemer who “emptied” himself to become like us in order that we might become like him; the joyful love of the Spirit that is the unique unity of the Father and Son.

As revealed to us by Jesus, our God is a God not of endings but beginnings; a God who does not demand the payment of debts but who constantly offers unconditional and unlimited chances to begin again; a God who does not take satisfaction in our failures but rejoices in lifting us up from our brokenness, despair and estrangement from him and from one another.   

2.     From the ACP

The mysterious merits of three-in-one

A popular idiom says that “Two is company, three is a crowd”. This may be true of romantic pairings, but the gospel gives another view. In the life of Jesus Christ, a threesome symbolises completeness and perfect symmetry, and the number three re-appears at key moments of the story of our Lord, for his life itself constantly reflected the Holy Trinity. There were three at the nativity scene in Bethlehem, Jesus, Mary and Joseph; and their first visitors were the three wise men from the East. Later, when praying in the desert before beginning his public life, Jesus was tempted three times by the devil. And so many of his parables reflect the adage that “a good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end.”
He was a storyteller par excellence and in his stories, sets of three characters figure prominently. The Prodigal Son is about a father and his two sons; the Good Samaritan contrasts the behaviour of three passers-by, the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan. The sower sowed his seed in three different types of ground, each yielding its own level of harvest. The end of Christ’s life, like its beginning, again has 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, as beautifully stated in John’s first epistle. And in God there are Three Persons, the loving Trinity, the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit,who together represent the fullness of love. The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father andTte Holy Spirit is their love for each other. We are mysteriously, wonderfully made in the image of a triune 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 unquenchable love of that Holy 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.

Clearly this trinitarian foundation makes this a missionary Sunday too. The followers of Jesus are deputed to go forth to pass on the good news that Jesus had shown them of God’s overwhelming and forgiving love. A lot of time and energy has been poured into that challenge through the ensuing centuries. Often we made a terrible mess of it. We have forced people to be baptized whether they wanted to be or not. Once in Seville, Spain forty thousand Jews were baptized (under pain of leaving the country by priests who strode through cathedral plaza sprinkling water on them. Other times we have forced them to abandon their native cultures and become Europeans like us. Still other times we bribed them (with rice when they were hungry) to join us. Sometimes we got the point, particularly in early days and attracted them to the church by the kinds of people we were and by the love we had for one another and for them. 


From the Collection of Fr. Tony Kadavil

1: "But that is impossible, my dear child:”

There is a very old and much repeated story about St. Augustine, one of the intellectual giants of the Church. He was walking by the seashore one day, attempting to conceive of an intelligible explanation for the mystery of the Trinity. As he walked along, he saw a small boy on the beach, pouring seawater with a shell into a small hole in the sand. "What are you doing, my child?" asked Augustine. "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole," the boy answered with an innocent smile. "But that is impossible, my dear child,” said Augustine. The boy stood up, looked straight into the eyes of Augustine and replied, “What you are trying to do - trying to comprehend the immensity of God with your small head - is even more impossible.” Then he vanished. It was an angel sent by God to teach Augustine a lesson. Later, Augustine wrote: "You see the Trinity if you see love." According to him the Father is the lover, the Son is the loved one and the Holy Spirit is the personification of the very act of loving. This means that we can understand the mystery of the Holy Trinity more readily with the heart than with our feeble mind. Evagrius of Pontus, a Greek monk of the 4th century who came from what is now Turkey in Asia and later lived out his vocation in Egypt, said: "God cannot be grasped by the mind. If God could be grasped, God would not be God." 

2: Explanations by Ss. Patrick, Cyril, John Maria Vianney:

The shamrock a kind of clover is a leguminous herb that grows in marshy places in Ireland. St Patrick, the missionary patron saint of Ireland, used the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity. The story goes that one day his friends asked Patrick to explain the mystery of the Trinity. He looked at the ground and saw shamrocks growing amongst the grass at his feet. He picked one up and showed it to his friends, saying “Look at this beautiful little shamrock. Do you think it has one leaf or three?" Patrick's friends couldn't answer--the shamrock looked like one leaf but it clearly had three parts. Patrick reassured them, "The mystery of this shamrock is like the mystery of the Trinity; there are three parts but they are all part of one." Christians around the world continue to puzzle about the mystery of the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit - one God in Three Divine Persons. They use symbols based on the triangle pattern or plants like the shamrock to help them with this kind of “three-in-one thinking.”  

3. St. Cyril, the teacher of the Slavs, tried to explain the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. He said, "Do you see in the heavens the brilliant sphere of the sun and how, from it, light is begotten and warmth proceeds? God the Father is like the sphere of the sun, without beginning or end. From Him is eternally begotten God the Son, like light from the sun; just as there comes warmth together with light from the sun, God the Holy Spirit proceeds. Each one is distinguished separately: the sphere of the sun and the light and the warmth — these are not three suns, but one sun in the heavens. So also, in the Holy Trinity: there are three Persons but God is One and indivisible."  

4. St. John Maria Vianney used to explain Holy Trinity using lighted candles and roses on the altar and water in the cruets. “The flame has color, warmth and shape. But these are expressions of one flame. Similarly the rose has color, fragrance and shape. But these are expressions of one reality, namely, rose. Water, steam and ice are three distinct expressions of one reality. In the same way one God revealed Himself to us as Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. 

5: Trinitarian design for medieval cathedrals: When the architect and engineer Aldo Spirito was commissioned to design a cathedral for the Archdiocese of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, he used a number of architectural elements to reinforce, as in the tradition of the medieval cathedrals, the truths of our faith. Among those elements is the fact that the basic structure is triangular, so as to state dramatically the fundamental truth of Christian faith: God has revealed Himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 


A preacher proudly boasted that he does not preach doctrinal sermons. They are boring he asserts and people do not understand or relate to them. Further, he claimed, I am a preacher and not a theologian. I get down do the practical issues and simply preach Christ crucified. 

His thinking is faulty at several points. First, he is wrong when he says that he is not a theologian. The fact is that everyone to a certain extent is a theologian. Theology is nothing more than what you think about God. Well, shouts one person, I don't believe In God. That then is your theology. I would also take issue with him when he claims that he does not preach theology but gets down to practical issues. In my thinking there is no difference in good theology and good practice. Good, solid theology gets down to the very core of our existence.

Finally, I would disagree with him when he says that we should only preach Christ crucified. I know that is what the Apostle Paul said but this preacher doesn't mean what Paul meant. He is saying that he only preaches about the cross and saving the sinner. I submit to you that the cross is not central in Paul's theology; rather, it is Christ. It has always puzzled me why some ministers preach the message of salvation to people who have been sitting in the pews all their life when they need so much more of Christ's teaching on life's other issues. There are many strings on a guitar. To make beautiful music all of them must be played and not just one. That is why in the United Methodist Church we honor the lectionary and the seasons of the church year. That insures a witness to the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. How can one go through the season of Advent and not touch upon the doctrine of the incarnation. How can one go through Lent without touching upon the doctrine of the resurrection? Likewise, how can we embark upon the season of Pentecost, as we did last week, without mentioning the doctrine of the Trinity? 

Today is Trinity Sunday...  
The soul has its seasons. "There is a time to be born, a time to die."

The Bible has its seasons. The biblical New Year begins at the appearance of the first "new moon" of spring, when nature comes to life.  

The West has its seasons. The New Year begins in the depths of the winter, which is often when the new comes, in the midst of winter, the soul most often coming to life in the wintry seasons of life. 

The church has its seasons.  

In the church our "seasons" are not determined by climate changes or a vernal equinox. Instead of fall, winter, spring, and summer, the church calendar recognizes seven "seasons:"  

Holy Week
Kingdomtide (unique to Wesleyans and Presbyterians)  

Unlike those other "four seasons" that neatly divvy up the year into four equal parts, the church seasons are all of different lengths. Advent is only four Sundays long. Lent is observed for six Sundays. Epiphany and Eastertide both extend over seven Sundays. The week of Holy Week gets its own "season." But by far the majority of the church calendar year is designated as the "Sundays after Pentecost" - depending on what church calendar you are using, up to twenty-seven Sundays in all, with this week being the first of those many "Pentecost Sundays." 

The reason for such a lop-sided division of the "seasons" in the church is explained in part by this week's gospel text. Matthew 28:16-20 is identified as the "Commissioning of the Disciples" text. It is a hotly contested text, to say the least. The phrase "The Great Commission" doesn't appear in the Bible, and wasn't widely used until the early 20th century, when the phrase and the text became wed-locked forever.  

In these few verses Matthew manages to encapsulate the whole of his gospel story...
Understanding the Trinity 

This is Trinity Sunday. God in three persons--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Do we fully understand this wonderful doctrine? No, but some of us will fight for it.

You may remember that ancient story about St. Augustine. One day he took a break from writing about the Trinity to take a walk along the seashore. There he came across a child with a little pail, intently scooping up a pail full of water out of the ocean, then walking up the beach and dumping it out into the sand, then going back down to scoop out another pail of water to pour into the sand, etc.

Augustine asked the child what he was doing, and the child explained that he was "emptying the sea out into the sand."

When the Bishop tried to gently point out the absurd impossibility of this task, the child replied, "Ah, but I'll drain the sea before you understand the Trinity."

There's truth to that child's comment. We don't understand the Trinity, but we're ready to go to war to defend it. Well, maybe not anymore. But there was a time when battles were fought over church doctrine, and even today churches are being split over whose interpretation of the Word is correct. And it's tragic.

King Duncan, Collected Sermons.
The Image of the Father 

Thomas Troeger, a Presbyterian pastor and gifted preacher, tells a story of an experience he had once. He wrote:
"One day several years ago I was in a department store buying myself a new shirt when a complete stranger walked up to me and said, 'You must be Henry Troeger's son.'

"I looked at this person and I said, 'I don't believe I have ever seen you.'
"He said, 'Oh, no, you have never met me at all, but a long time ago I worked with your father. I was a close colleague of his and when I saw you across the aisle of the store, I said to myself, `I'd know that face anywhere.' You are the very image of your father.'

"For several weeks after that, I would sometimes be going down the street, and maybe come around a corner, and catch my reflection in a store window. I started to see myself with the eyes of someone else. It is not like looking into the mirror in the morning. I would come around the corner, catch that reflection and I would think, 'That's Henry Troeger.' All of a sudden I would be seeing how I bore the image of my father."

And so it is with us.

Each one of us is created with the image of God indelibly imprinted on our souls, so that, in some miraculous and inexplicable way, the diverse expressions of God that are you and you and you and me all come together to illustrate the mystery, to live together in community as we do our best to display for the world all the possibilities that the divine imprint on all of us could mean.

Amy Butler, A Curious Community

 Who, Me? 

Unfortunately, most of us act like the out-of shape, overweight man who decided to take up tennis. He took lessons from a pro. He read several self-help books which advised him to "think positively" and "develop a winning attitude."

A friend asked him how his tennis was going. With a positive, winning attitude in his voice, the man replied, "When my opponent hits the ball to me, my brain immediately barks out a command to my body: 'Race up to the net.' Then, it says, 'Slam a blistering shot to a far corner of the court. Then immediately jump back into position and return the next volley to the other far corner of the court.' And then my body says, 'Who, me?'" 

I'd be willing to bet, if we could go back in time, that the first words out of the mouths of all the Disciples after Jesus spoke these words were the same: "Who, me?" You have to remember that the events of this passage actually took place before Pentecost and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. But the question is still pertinent. "Who, me?" 

Billy D. Strayhorn, Go!
 "Feeling Like..." 

I rather like the story Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick once related from his own childhood days. His father had said to his mother, upon leaving the house one Saturday in the morning hours: "Tell Harry that he can cut the grass today, if he feels like it." 

Then, halfway down the walk, his father turned once more to add: "And tell Harry that he had better feel like it." 

Well, in its own rather humorous way, there is something essential about life wrapped up in that. For there is a difference between knowing we are supposed to do something, and 'feeling like" doing it. There is a difference between a sense of obligation and a sense of generosity. There is a difference between obedience and desire. And the one of those weighs us down, while the other lifts us up.

Christianity says to us, you do not know God, if you know Him only as a sense of authority over your life. Furthermore, you do not know God, if you merely believe intellectually that God is a God who cares and loves. 

You do not know God somehow at all, unless the same spirit of His authority and His love captivates you from within, so that you live knowing the spirit of it for yourself. You do not know God, unless all this that we have been saying about Him becomes for you your own way of life and not an obligation imposed on you by the Church, or by the fear of death, or by anything else. 

Paul van Dine, Not the Nature, But the Character of God - Trinity!, Cathedral Publishers.
Safely through the Storm 

Max Lucado tells the story about the time he was sailing with his son and a church friend of the coast of Miami. They were having a leisurely cruise and the weather was perfect. But out of nowhere a storm appeared. The sky darkened, the rained started and the ocean became violent. Max was terrified and looked at his friend Milt for help.

Milt was deliberate and decisive. He told the men exactly where to sit and gave them specific instructions. Last he said, "just hang on." They did what he said. Why? Because Milt was the only skilled sailor on board and knew exactly what to do in a storm. Until then Max could have boasted about his merit badge in sailing that he had received in the boy scouts. But, that was no comparison to a real storm on the high seas. He had no choice but to trust in Milt's directions...