• FlitwickChurch

Trinity Sunday: 7th June 2020

Today is Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But don’t we do that every Sunday? Well, yes. Every Sunday and indeed every day. Every time we pray, we pray to the Father through the Son and in the power of the Spirit. Every day, if we look, we can encounter God in creation, God in Christ, God in the working out of the Spirit.

Sometimes I think Trinity Sunday was invented simply to irritate preachers. So that congregations could see which theological elephant trap preachers would fall into this year. An opportunity to keep preachers on their toes at the end of the long Lent and Easter seasons, before they could retreat to the relative safety of ordinary time.

In some ways it’s really tempting to ignore Trinity Sunday this year. What does it matter of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer? When we look at the world, the ravages of COVID19, racial tensions in the USA, the state of our planet, what does it matter if God is one person, two person, three person, 77 persons?

The answer is that it matters. It matters terribly. If we believe in God, the sort of God we believe in matters terribly. Because the sort of God we believe in will shape the way we understand the world and our place in it. Everything we are and everything we do emerges from what we believe God is like.

To be honest, I have struggled this week. I have struggled with what to say about the death of George Floyd. I have struggled with what to say about the demonstrations and violence that followed his death. I have struggled with what to say about Black Lives Matter. Because what can I, a middle class white English woman, possibly have to say about the experience of black people in the USA, or about the lives of our BAME brothers and sisters in this country suffering so disproportionately from COVID19. I have no right to speak. I have enjoyed every white privilege. I have never feared being arrested for walking down the street. I went to a school where only wealthy middle class white parents could afford to send their children. I went to a university with a vanishingly small number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds. I have never had the experience of being the only white face in a room of BAME faces. How dare I say anything? How dare I speak on their behalf, from my position of white privilege. I know nothing, nothing of their experience.

But when the pictures emerged of Donald Trump brandishing the Bible on the steps of a closed Washington Church in a bizarre photo opportunity, then I knew that despite all my reservations, I had to speak. When it emerged that the square outside the Church had been cleared of peaceful protestors by tear gas just before that photograph was taken, I knew I had to speak. When I saw a man of power using God the Holy Trinity to manipulate and distort, then I knew I had to speak.

I know nothing of what it is to have lived life other than as a privileged white woman. But I have come to know and experience something of God.

Since the earliest days of the Christian faith, followers in the way have tried to put into words their experience of God. The language that emerged is that of Trinity, an opaque, imperfect image for a dynamic, experienced reality. God has been experienced as the creator, filling every living thing with breath through the Spirit. God has been experienced as Christ, the creator made human. God has been experienced as Spirit, the means by which Christ is brought to us in the here and now. And you’ll see that every time we speak about one person of the Trinity, one or both of the others is there too. Each distinct, each integral, inseparable yet each active. Bound together in their difference by love, each surrendering power to the other in grace.

But what has this got to do with George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and that photo opportunity?

I believe that human beings are made in the image of God; right at the beginning of the Bible Donald Trump waved, we are told that. Human beings are made in the image of God. All humans. I believe that Jesus, a man who certainly was not white, came and was executed and died so that humans can be caught up in the life of God. Here and now, and fully in eternity. That’s what eternity, heaven, is, to be caught up into the life of God. To be ourselves, completely ourselves yet bound together in our difference in the love and grace and giving up of power that epitomises the life of God the Holy Trinity.

And if that’s right, if that is what God is like, God cannot be called down to take sides in a photo opportunity, cannot be used to bolster human power. If that is what God is like, and we are made in God’s image, we cannot allow oppression to go unchallenged, even the slow, creeping oppression of centuries old prejudice, especially the slow, creeping oppression of centuries old prejudice. If that is what God is like, if we are bound together with each other and with God the Holy Trinity in a life of love and grace and diversity, we have to look at ourselves, hard, with crystal clarity. We have to examine our own hearts and souls with forensic precision and ask, do I divide, do I prejudge and assume. Do I oppress with my assumptions and my behaviours? And because we are fallen human beings, because we are not God, the answer will be yes. Yes I am a part of that evil. And today, this day, I vow to do better. To be more honest with myself. To catch my thoughts before thought.

And once I have done that, only once I’ve done that, then perhaps I can seek ways for others to speak, seek ways to kneel with those who are bowed down. Then perhaps I can to proclaim the image of God in all people, not with photo opportunities and hash tags, but in the life I lead. A life of love, grace and relinquishing power, a life a fraction more like the life of God the Holy Trinity.Today is Trinity Sunday, the day we celebrate God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But don’t we do that every Sunday? Well, yes. Every Sunday and indeed every day. Every time we pray, we pray to the Father through the Son and in the power of the Spirit. Every day, if we look, we can encounter God in creation, God in Christ, God in the working out of the Spirit.

Sometimes I think Trinity Sunday was invented simply to irritate preachers. So that congregations could see which theological elephant trap preachers would fall into this year. An opportunity to keep preachers on their toes at the end of the long Lent and Easter seasons, before they could retreat to the relative safety of ordinary time.

In some ways it’s really tempting to ignore Trinity Sunday this year. What does it matter of God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer? When we look at the world, the ravages of COVID19, racial tensions in the USA, the state of our planet, what does it matter if God is one person, two person, three person, 77 persons?

The answer is that it matters. It matters terribly. If we believe in God, the sort of God we believe in matters terribly. Because the sort of God we believe in will shape the way we understand the world and our place in it. Everything we are and everything we do emerges from what we believe God is like.

To be honest, I have struggled this week. I have struggled with what to say about the death of George Floyd. I have struggled with what to say about the demonstrations and violence that followed his death. I have struggled with what to say about Black Lives Matter. Because what can I, a middle class white English woman, possibly have to say about the experience of black people in the USA, or about the lives of our BAME brothers and sisters in this country suffering so disproportionately from COVID19. I have no right to speak. I have enjoyed every white privilege. I have never feared being arrested for walking down the street. I went to a school where only wealthy middle class white parents could afford to send their children. I went to a university with a vanishingly small number of students from ethnic minority backgrounds. I have never had the experience of being the only white face in a room of BAME faces. How dare I say anything? How dare I speak on their behalf, from my position of white privilege. I know nothing, nothing of their experience.

But when the pictures emerged of Donald Trump brandishing the Bible on the steps of a closed Washington Church in a bizarre photo opportunity, then I knew that despite all my reservations, I had to speak. When it emerged that the square outside the Church had been cleared of peaceful protestors by tear gas just before that photograph was taken, I knew I had to speak. When I saw a man of power using God the Holy Trinity to manipulate and distort, then I knew I had to speak.

I know nothing of what it is to have lived life other than as a privileged white woman. But I have come to know and experience something of God.

Since the earliest days of the Christian faith, followers in the way have tried to put into words their experience of God. The language that emerged is that of Trinity, an opaque, imperfect image for a dynamic, experienced reality. God has been experienced as the creator, filling every living thing with breath through the Spirit. God has been experienced as Christ, the creator made human. God has been experienced as Spirit, the means by which Christ is brought to us in the here and now. And you’ll see that every time we speak about one person of the Trinity, one or both of the others is there too. Each distinct, each integral, inseparable yet each active. Bound together in their difference by love, each surrendering power to the other in grace.

But what has this got to do with George Floyd, Black Lives Matter and that photo opportunity?

I believe that human beings are made in the image of God; right at the beginning of the Bible Donald Trump waved, we are told that. Human beings are made in the image of God. All humans. I believe that Jesus, a man who certainly was not white, came and was executed and died so that humans can be caught up in the life of God. Here and now, and fully in eternity. That’s what eternity, heaven, is, to be caught up into the life of God. To be ourselves, completely ourselves yet bound together in our difference in the love and grace and giving up of power that epitomises the life of God the Holy Trinity.

And if that’s right, if that is what God is like, God cannot be called down to take sides in a photo opportunity, cannot be used to bolster human power. If that is what God is like, and we are made in God’s image, we cannot allow oppression to go unchallenged, even the slow, creeping oppression of centuries old prejudice, especially the slow, creeping oppression of centuries old prejudice. If that is what God is like, if we are bound together with each other and with God the Holy Trinity in a life of love and grace and diversity, we have to look at ourselves, hard, with crystal clarity. We have to examine our own hearts and souls with forensic precision and ask, do I divide, do I prejudge and assume. Do I oppress with my assumptions and my behaviours? And because we are fallen human beings, because we are not God, the answer will be yes. Yes I am a part of that evil. And today, this day, I vow to do better. To be more honest with myself. To catch my thoughts before thought.

And once I have done that, only once I’ve done that, then perhaps I can seek ways for others to speak, seek ways to kneel with those who are bowed down. Then perhaps I can to proclaim the image of God in all people, not with photo opportunities and hash tags, but in the life I lead. A life of love, grace and relinquishing power, a life a fraction more like the life of God the Holy Trinity.

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