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Trinity Sunday: It’s complicated….
Today is Trinity Sunday, the only Sunday specifically dedicated to a Christian teaching or doctrine. This annual commemoration gives us the opportunity to explore the mystery of God and how Christians from the earliest centuries sought to understand God and Jesus’ relationship to God. It gives us the opportunity to explore the different strands of our relationships to God, as the earliest Christians did. By the time the Nicene Creed was penned in the fourth century, the doctrine of the Trinity had come into focus as describing 1 God in 3 parts – as Creator, as Savior and Sustainer.
The Trinity doctrine is a simple and complicated formula: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is no formula to be memorized for yet another examination (as I did when I was confirmed in 1970). This is a formula we carry with us on all our journeys.
There are 3 major feast days in the Church year: Christmas, Easter and PENTECOST.
Pentecost is probably the least known and celebrated. Unlike Christmas there’s no baby in the manger, no angels, no crèche scene and tableau with the Holy Family. Unlike Easter there is no empty tomb, no Holy Week story of drama to precede it and no women. Instead, we have tongues of flame on the 12 disciples’ heads. It’s all about the Spirit in the tongues of fire and what happens next.
Pentecost is just as exciting as Christmas and Easter in its own way, including it being (unofficial and not entirely accurate) the birthday of the church.
You’ll know that it is a big deal at Emmanuel – look for the color red, balloons, and an Emmanuel photo taken at the end of the 10 am service. (Many thanks to Kim Robey for taking the photo!) Don’t miss the activities, all signs of the Spirit alive and well at Emmanuel.
How do you say goodbye? For Jesus, preparing to leave the close society of his disciples seems to have been a long process. Almost from the beginning he gently, or sometimes in exasperation, explained that the course his life was following would lead to profound changes in their lives. So he began saying goodbye early.
When families get together to say farewell to someone moving away, or to celebrate the last few days of someone’s’ single life before marriage, or when someone is in the final stages of his life in this world, they often rummage around and get out old photographs. Every time we hold a funeral here at Emmanuel families put together a collage of photographs, and usually have a photograph of the deceased loved one on the cover of the service sheet. These pictures stimulate an extended round of reminiscence – where holidays were spent, the most memorable meal. Before an impending change, people tend to reflect more than usual on how they got to where they are. They are preparing to say “Goodbye.” I cannot underscore how important such remembering is and how it must continue as part of our lives. It is all about staying connected to one another.
On this seventh Sunday of Easter, we stand between our observance of the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, as the readings for today remind us once again of our new life in the Risen Christ. The Gospel passage concludes the series of readings from Jesus’ “farewell discourse” (Jn 13:1-17:26) with his “high Priestly Prayer (Jn 17:1-16). As the prayer begins, Jesus’ “hour” has come, as he asks that he might glorify God and promises eternal life for all. Jesus prays for his immediate disciples to be protected and unified in the Father’s name and assures them that they will be protected and with him.
Let us contemplate all that Jesus gives us in the conclusion of this long goodbye,. May we trust God that even as Jesus was telling his first disciples one last time that with God and through Jesus and the Holy Spirit we are never alone or comfortless. Wherever this journey of following Jesus takes you, you have all that you need to boldly follow him as your Savior, putting all your trust in God and Jesus, as Jesus reminds his disciples, one last time.
Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that this is a “new” commandment. How is this so? There is nothing to suggest that love was absent from the disciples’ lives in the tradition of their Judaism. Was it new in that the disciples were entering a new time of life in the world? Was it new in that only now had Jesus begun to talk this way to them? Or perhaps the nature of their love for one another was to be new? Certainly, Jesus tells them that they are to love as he had loved them. How do we do this?View Sermon
The Second Sunday of Easter is always the Sunday of Thomas “the twin,” sometimes called “doubting Thomas” – which I think is unfair to Thomas. It is also the Sunday when we recall that Jesus says, “Peace be with you.” Jesus tells his disciples, not once, not twice, but three times, “Peace be with you.” The last time they were together, Jesus told his disciples that, regardless of what they were threatened with in this world, they would share in his peace. But saying it had not made it so.
Today, this Second Sunday in Easter, we find ourselves again in John’s Gospel where we are told that the disciples are gathered in a room late on Easter Sunday, and the mood is bleak. Every plan and hope for the future rested with Jesus, and now he is dead. There are incredible stories of a resurrection, but the disciples remain unconvinced. How can it be?
Then, without warning, Jesus appears in their midst. “Peace be with you,” he says, and he shows them his hands… Where do you find yourself in this story?