TRINITY SUNDAY 2020
Reading Matthew ch 28 v 16-20
16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
There is a story about a church which was reciting the Athanasian creed during the Trinity service with the statements “The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible and the Holy Spirit incomprehensible…” when a crotchety voice came from the pews “If you ask me the whole darned thing is incomprehensible”. Those of you who have heard me before know that Trinity is one service when I always hope someone else will have the problem. Even at the cathedral I am reliably informed that the clergy always hope it will be someone else!
Over the years I have used various ways to try to illustrate the Trinity: the jaffa cake, the clover leaf and the 3 in 1 washing tablet. Perhaps for children they are a good start but we need to understand with more depth when we grow up. So what is the Trinity and what does it mean for us?
The reading from St Matthew this morning is very short but has a great deal in it. It is the end of the story and yet also the beginning. Jesus has appeared to his disciples and he has now asked them to go to a mountain. He gives them what has come to be called The Great Commission, telling them to go to all nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Trinity, although that word is never used in the Bible.
God is one and God is three. From the beginning of Creation we learn of God creating the world and everything in it. He nurtured it and cared for it but we made a mess of it. God wept and loved us and in desperation sent his Son to save us. Jesus lived as one of us and died the cruellest of deaths for us. Those who followed him were bereft but the Holy Spirit came to guide and energise.
The Trinity is difficult but perhaps the reflection of The Bishop of Burnley will help. There is a work of art in St Michael’s Church in Camden by Maniecj Urbaniec a Polish artist and photographer. This is what Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley says about it:
“It is positioned behind the font where people are baptized into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It started as a photograph of ordinary black supermarket bin bags, the ultimate symbol of trash and transience but because of the artist’s skill becomes incredibly beautiful. Just what happens when baptized into the Trinity; broken, sinful, mortal bodies of ours swept up into the life of God. Beautifully made by the Father, redeemed by the saving work of the Son, we are temples of the Holy Spirit; our bodies the place where God himself makes his home. From baptism into the Trinity we shine out gloriously with the very life of God. People think of the Trinity as an idea to be rationally explained but it’s not. It is a lifestyle, it’s who we are. The Trinity invites us to share in his life. That’s how precious we are”
Jesus left the disciples with the words “I am with you always”. At this difficult time, there is nothing that is more comforting than that; even when everything seems dark and despairing, the Father cares for us, the Son saves us and the Holy Spirit is with us. As the Bishop of Burnley states, we are that precious to God. Amen.