Monday, June 2, 2014

Why the Trinity actually does make sense

Do download a podcast of my sermon, click here.

My sermon for today is based on John 14:15-21.

I am an Anglican.  That means that I am a Trinitarian.  The problem is that the Trinity is, by its very definition, a mystery.  "Mystery" is the word religious people often use to explain that which they cannot explain.

As a young person and even into seminary, I had great trouble with  the concept of the Trinity.  It seemed that God was reduced to a distant administrator, Jesus became God's clerk and the Holy Spirit became an errand boy of sorts.

Then add to that the fact that the Trinity seemed to border on polytheism ("But God is one!"), and we can perhaps understand why this is such a mystery indeed.

I have heard a number of explanations of the Trinity, ranging from the absurd to the merely whimsical (and most of them had to do with food: "The Trinity is like an egg; The Trinity is like a cup of coffee") but none of them actually ever got close to being a useful tool for spiritual wisdom.

Until seminary.  I can't remember who told me this metaphor, but this one worked for me.  This person said that as people, we interact with our world in 3 different ways.

1. Our thoughts.  We perceive the world, we analyze, we make assessments, we judge...our brain is how we perceive the world and thought is the first basis of how we interact with it.

2. Our words.  Whether we speak or write, our words have an impact on people.  Words communicate knowledge, perception, intent.

3.  Our action.  This is where we actually go out and do stuff.

So if we follow the chain, we think something, we say what we are going to do about it, and we do it.

Comparing this to the Trinity, this person said that God was the principle of thought.  God is the source of everything.  Christ, often referred to as "the Word of God made flesh" was someone to spoke the word of God, who told us what God was like and what God was not like.  He is the one who told us that God loves us dearly, and we ought to love one another dearly.  Then there is the Holy Spirit, which is that principle of action through which God still moves in the world.

The Holy Spirit is not a ghost, of course.  Whether we are religious or not, we often use the term "spirit" when we refer to the mood in a room or in a group, or even when we talk about our own mood ("He was in poor spirits; The volunteers were in high spirits").

The Spirit therefore can be conceived as the extend to which we allow ourselves to be moved by God, by our own thoughts, by the things we experience.

We perceive something, we make a statement about (internally or externally) and we act on it...hopefully acting out of love.

This chain can be interrupted, of course.  Many of us think things we do not say, we say we are going to do things but never do, and sometimes we act in ways that neither reflect what we think OR what we say.

We have a choice in most of our interactions with the world.  We can do the right thing or we can do the wrong thing.  It comes down to a moral choice: we can reach out to individuals and the world in love, or we can allow any number of other emotions to step in the way and guide that series of thought, word and deed.  We can let anger, fear or selfishness guide our process.

Let love guide your process today.

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