Here’s my sermon for Trinity Sunday 2021.
Read below or listen to this on our podcast here:
Did you know that loneliness is considered to be one of the biggest problems that we face in our society today? It’s particularly considered to be a health problem – according to some research loneliness is as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and being lonely increases your risk of early death by 29%.
We know this instinctively really. Remember that one of the worst punishments that can be meted out is putting someone in solitary confinement. Since the lockdown, many of us have felt this loneliness acutely.
We were not made to be alone.
The writers of the creation accounts in the book of Genesis instinctively knew this as well.
Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness…So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
And then in Genesis Chapter 2: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’
What we don’t often think about is that God is not ever alone. God is Trinity. Remember the phrase in the creation account in the book of Genesis: Let US make humankind in OUR image. This is not a single lonely entity speaking. It is something else, something not quite yet defined, but clearly more than one – God is an US, a WE.
So from the very beginning of time, God is not a singular individual, but a relational being, a trinity. And we humans are made in the image of this God the Trinity. We’re not made in the image of Jesus. We’re not made in the image of God the Father. We’re not made in the image of the Holy Spirit. We are made in the image of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all three. And so at the very heart of being human is the need for community, the need to be in relationship, the need to be dependent, the need to be giving and receiving as that is at the very heart of the God in whose image we are made.
If God is Trinity then equality is at the heart of what it means to be human. At the cause of a lot of the pain and destruction in the world is inequality. Researchers Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson identified in their book The Spirit Level that the more equal a society is, the better off everyone is. The bigger the gap between rich and poor – the worse off everyone is. We have seen this inequality laid bare in the disproportionate number of people from poorer backgrounds who have died of Covid 19 and in the terrible violence perpetrated against innocent black people around the world and most recently in the case of George Floyd in the United States. The root cause of pain and suffering in our world is inequality. This is because we are made in the image of God the Trinity. The three persons of the trinity are equal – the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit – they are not in a hierarchy, they are co-equal, constantly giving and receiving from one another. If we believe that within God’s very self is built equality – what does that mean for us? What does that mean for what the best for our world should be? Equality is built into the very nature of God, inequality is an affront to God’s very nature – which is why Christians should work hard to include everyone, Jesus demonstrated this through his interactions with people from all parts of society. Jesus spent his time destroying the barriers of inequality between clean and unclean, male and female and even Jew and Gentile. Equality is at the heart of the Trinity and should be at the heart of our community here.
If God is Trinity then mutual self-giving is at the heart of what it is to be human. The three persons of the Trinity are constantly giving and receiving from one another, it is a reciprocal friendship at the very heart of God’s self. If we worshipped God as a single unity, a big boss man, we would begin to prize independence and dominance as the important virtues. But the God we worship is Trinity, an eternal self-giving friendship, not a scary big boss man in the sky. As Jesus was born into this world a tiny squalling baby, God came to us in total vulnerability, ready to be changed and dependent on others. If mutual self-giving is at the heart of the Trinity then it should be at the heart of our community here.
If God is Trinity then constant movement and dynamic creation is at the heart of what it is to be human. The relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is often described with a Greek word meaning dance – it’s a fluid exchange between the three persons, moving, giving, receiving. It is the eternal dance of love at the centre of God’s being. Constant movement, constant creation. God is not static. God did not create the world like some divine watchmaker and set it running and sit back. God is constantly renewing and creating and making all things new. God is constantly at work in our world through the dynamic movement of the three persons of the Trinity at work in us. This means that movement and change and creativity should be at the heart of our community here.
This is the God we worship, God the Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When we are not reflecting God’s image as Trinity, we find the disease of loneliness blighting our communities and society. When we are not reflecting God’s image as Trinity, we find the effects of inequality on all people, rich and poor, a world where white lives matter more than black lives. When we are not reflecting God’s image as Trinity we find ourselves stuck in a rut, not growing, not developing, our growth is stunted and we are left by the side of the room not joining in with the great dance.
God the Trinity is the God we pray to, the God into whose life you were baptised. It’s a dynamic life of equality, mutuality, self-giving caught up in a divine dance that makes life worth living. May you know the life-giving power of the Trinity and may it fill us that our community may flourish, that we may truly live up to the image of God in which we were created. Praise be to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit! Amen.