Sermons 2014 ~ Trinity Sunday

Father Son and Holy Spirit’s Day


Today is Father’s Day.
We have Mother’s Day in the church - or rather Mothering Sunday.
Although we don’t call today Fathering Sunday….

On Mothering Sunday we think about the Motherhood of the Church, the Motherhood of Mary, Jesus’ Mother, and even the Motherhood of God. Julian of Norwich had some thoughts about the motherhood of God. She said ‘As surely as God is our Father, he is our mother’. So if we remember the motherhood of God on Mother’s Day, we might reflect on the Fatherhood of God on this Father’s Day.

We can reflect on God as Father of Jesus and of us all. And in that sense, today - Trinity Sunday - is the best possible day on which to have Father’s Day. It doesn’t fall on Trinity Sunday very often, because of the date of Easter being variable, but this year, here we are.

The Trinity is both a key doctrine of the church and a complex one. We talk of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Last week we celebrated Pentecost - the coming of the Holy Spirit, and with baptisms as well, our focus was very much on the Holy Spirit. And Bishop Peter was here on Wednesday – the feast day of St Barnabas, which fell rather wonderfully midway between Pentecost and Trinity Sunday – all quirks of the calendar but which gave wonderful resonances of the spiritual dimension of calling, confirmation and commitment. And then, the previous week we celebrated Ascension Day, and the focus of that was very much on Jesus, ascending to - yes - his Father.

So now as we have celebrated Ascension and Pentecost we arrive at the day on which we celebrate the Trinity - the unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. So today is a day on which, in a certain sense we add the Fatherhood of God into the mix. This is, to some extent, Father’s Day in the church too. The secular greetings card festival has resonances for us in our Christian Faith. Even if it is rather rare for Father’s Day to fall on Trinity Sunday!

But of course, it’s not just God the Father’s Day - for the Trinity is indivisible. God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit - the three are one. At St Andrews’ Church last week, Steve, the new Vicar, was installed. He was presented by Michael Banner, the Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge - that is, the ‘College of the Most Holy and Indivisible Trinity’, to give it its proper name. There will be singing from the College Ramparts tonight by the world famous choir, in celebration of Trinity Sunday today. But this always reminds me of Gloucester Cathedral, which is dedicated to the ‘Most Holy and Undivided Trinity’. Which makes it sound like Trinity College is dedicated to God the Trinity, indivisible, whereas Gloucester Cathedral is dedicated to a Trinity who could be divided, but happens not to be. Far be it from me to suggest that Gloucester Cathedral is founded on a heresy!

Yet the Trinity, is God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, not only undivided, but indivisible. Three in one and one in three.

It’s not quite the three musketeers, but you get the idea. 'One for all and all for one’.

And that is where our relationship to the Imagine Project comes in. It’s lovely to have Lorraine and Imelda here. And again, Trinity Sunday is a great day to remember and renew our relationship with the Imagine Project.

For at the heart of the Trinity is an interrelationship among Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are these there dimensions - or rather, three persons to the Trinity. Everything has three dimensions - there’s something fundamental about the way in which the world is put together:  that it is in 3D. We relate to creation in 3D, we have to in order to move about. Height, breadth and depth. St Paul even wrote to the Corinthians that "nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord”. There is a 3 dimensionality to the life of faith.

And here and now we renew our 3D relationship with the Imagine Project - with Lorraine and Imelda -  as they are here with us - in three dimensions! For we have a relationship with Lorraine and Imelda and the Project, and it is very three dimensional especially since they are here with us!

But it is also also three dimensional when they are not here, as we journey through our year with Imagine Sundays, Coffee Mornings and regular giving and praying. There are, I think, three dimensions to our relationship. These are:

1 – Friendship - 2 – Faith and 3 – Finance  - 3 Fs

1 - Friendship

'I have not called you servants but friends', said Jesus - and this is vital to all our relationships. There is friendship as well as servanthood built into the very core of what the Trinity is, and therefore at the heart of the Christian Life. Our relationship with the Imagine Project is one of friendship. Long distance, close friendship. Friendship over many years, friendship that has encompassed change and challenge. Personal friendship with Lorraine, and dear Joe of course, and with Imelda – those whom we know in three dimensions, but also, friendship with those children and helpers whom we have never actually met. In the Christian life it is perfectly possible to be friends with people we have never met, but with whom we share values, faith and outlook.

It is Friendship founded on hope, and love, and it is the kind of friendship to which Christ calls us – not only with those we know in three dimensions, but also to strangers. Service for our brothers and sisters worldwide consist in friendship. ‘I have not called you servants, but friends’, said Jesus.

2 - Faith

Secondly, there is Faith.

There is also a common faith - common faith in the doctrine of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who binds us together and unites our prayers, visions and actions. Common Faith not only in doctrine, but action. Jesus not only called us friends, but called us to feed the hungry, visit the sick and the prisoners and to preach the good news to those in need. The Imagine Project embodies those values and the response to that call, and it is our privilege to be able to join in and contribute that response in care and prayer. And one of the key ways we do this is in prayer - we pray for the Imagine project daily - not just in church but in our homes.

As John Ellerton’s Evening Hymn puts it -

As o’er each continent and island
the dawn leads on another day.
the voice of prayer is never silent,
nor dies the strain of praise away.

Ellerton’s Victorian colonial world was very different to ours - thankfully - but now the global nature of our involvement, understanding and charity is even more significant. We know what is going on in Iraq, Afghanistan and Mozambique immediately, and can communicate instantly with so many places and people worldwide. Joining hands in prayer around the globe is possible like never before. And we can join in aid as well as prayer.

3 - Finance

So the third F in our 3 dimensional, Trinitarian relationship with the Imagine Project, is financial.

Our common friendship and our faith make the financial dimension necessary and inevitable. We support financially because we are called by Christ to do so, and because we have relationship with Lorraine and the project. Our outpouring of money is itself an outpouring of love and faith. How could we be friends in faith but not support financially? It simply wouldn’t add up.

So this Trinity of friendship, faith and finance go hand in hand  - they are related, and the world would look very odd if one were missing. This trinity of relationship is inseparable, and to remove one dimension would be like removing a leg of the tripod - it would fall over. So these three abide - friendship, faith and finance...

So it is that in our wonderful connection with the Imagine Project we have a model of and a reflection of the 3 dimensionality of the Holy Trinity. Friendship, Faith and Finance go hand in hand in all aspects of the Christian life, in which we truly are ‘one for all and all for one’. Three in one and one in three. And today, we celebrate the unity of the divine Godhead - there is no better day than today to celebrate than this Father’s Day - this Father, Son and Holy Spirit’s Day.

So to God be the glory - Trinity in Unity, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.


The Rev’d Dr Gordon Giles, St Mary Magdalene, Enfield, 15/6/2014

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