Posts Tagged "Trinity Sunday"

Sermon June 11: It Takes Three

Posted by on Jun 11, 2017 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon June 11: It Takes Three

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/It-Takes-Three_E.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church June 11, 2017 Trinity Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture:  2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20 Prayer for Illumination: By your power and authority, God, may your servant love become our way of life.  May your grace and forgiveness inspire us to hope for the future.  May we become the living embodiment of your good news in all that we say and do.  Amen. Sermon: It Takes Three  The Trinity and I have been having an argument this week.  It’s not going so well on my side, but I guess that’s not surprising since it’s three against one.  Okay. That’s my attempt at a joke on Trinity Sunday.  I’m not offended if you didn’t laugh. But seriously, today is the day we get to talk about the Trinity.  To try to explain the mystery of the Trinity.  To remember that we worship a God who is both one and three, three in one.  Folks have come up with many technical analogies to describe the Trinity.  There’s the shell, white and yoke that make up one egg.  There’s the skin, flesh and seeds that make up one apple.  Water has three states – liquid, ice, and vapor – but remains water.  The shamrock has three leaves but is still one plant. The image I have on the projector shows one technical attempt to explain the Trinity.  As you can see the “is nots” are in the blue circle along the outside.  The son is not the father.  The father is not the spirit.  The spirit is not the son.  Yet the green paths that lead to God say “is.”  The Father is God.  The Son is God.  The Spirit is God.  The three persons of the Trinity are separate AND they are all God. Others experience the Trinity more through art and relationship.  The artist who created this icon depicts the three persons of the Trinity as literal persons sitting together in relationship.  A friend I spoke to this week said he has experienced the Trinity most profoundly in observing the relationship between his three children.  The book (and the movie) The Shack portrays each person of the Trinity as a character.  The father as an African American woman.  The son as a Middle Eastern man.  And the Spirit as an Asian woman.  These characters share a dynamic relationship as they shepherd the book’s protagonist, Mack, through the lessons he must learn. But the real question about the Trinity is, so what?  The doctrine of the Trinity itself isn’t even in the Bible.  It took centuries of theological wrangling, and a succession of ecumenical councils, to finally articulate what we now accept as the orthodox understanding of the Trinity.  There’s another joke about the Trinity (one that I didn’t write, so I promise it will be better): Walking with his disciples one day, Jesus said, “Whom do men say that I am?”  His disciples answered, “Some say you are John the Baptist returned from the dead; others say Elijah, or other of the old prophets.” But Jesus questioned again, “But whom do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “Thou art the Logos, existing in the Father as His rationality and then, by an act of His will, being generated, in consideration of the various functions by which God is related to his creation, but only on the fact that Scripture speaks of a Father, and a Son, and a Holy Spirit, each member of the Trinity being coequal with every other member, and each acting inseparably with every other member, with only an economic subordination within...

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Sermon May 22: The Tie That Binds

Posted by on May 25, 2016 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon May 22: The Tie That Binds

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/The-Tie-That-Binds-May-22-2016.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church May 22, 2016 Trinity Sunday Rev. Kristabeth Atwood Scripture: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31, Psalm 8 Prayer for Illumination:         As we reflect on your word, O God, may your Spirit of Truth bring us wisdom to carry the message of the Gospel in our hearts. May we live according to your word that we might reflect your glory. Amen. Sermon:                                 The Tie that Binds Trinity Sunday. Three in One. One in Three. My Desk Dictionary defines trinity as a triad, “a union or group of three usually closely related persons or things.” But our understanding of Trinity is a little more….. theological. We worship one God made known in three persons. The word Trinity is a non-Scriptural term that was put forth as a way to describe the mystery we see reflected in the Scriptures. There are several places in the Gospel where we hear Jesus speak of the Father and the Spirit. In the Gospel of John Jesus proclaims, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own….” And later Jesus affirms, “He (the Spirit) will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine.” In just those brief verses, we see Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father working together. While the Trinity was not revealed to us fully until Jesus’ resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we can look back and see how God revealed God’s self in different ways throughout the Old and New Testaments. The passages from Proverbs and Psalm 8 are two of those places.  Coming from a strictly monotheistic tradition the early Jewish followers of Christ had to explain how God could be both three and one. The doctrine of the Trinity was developed to address just that. But mysteries that are explained cease to be mysteries, right? Dispelling the mystery is the temptation we fall into when we try to explain the unexplainable, to illustrate what cannot be illustrated. When we think we have a handle on the Trinity; that’s when we’re really in trouble. In fact, we can probably never fully comprehend the truth that God is one in three persons. If we stay too much “in our heads” we risk losing the sense of awe about it all. I think I agree with what Johannes Tauler wrote in Seasons of the Spirit, “To experience the working of the Trinity is better than to talk about it.” Yet, what is compelling to me about the Trinity is that it reflects a God in relationship. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not separate. The tie that binds. They work together. In our Old Testament lesson we hear from Wisdom.   Wisdom is personified in Proverbs as a woman and has, at different times, been identified with the persons of Christ or the Holy Spirit. In any case, this Scripture gives us a glimpse into a God who exists in relationship. “Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth…when he had not yet made earth and fields, or the world’s first bits of soil…I was his daily delight.” As Debbie Blue puts it, “In the beginning God contained within Godself a personal union: a relationship.” So, if God is a God of relationship, what does that mean for us? Over the last two weeks United Methodists from around the world gathered in Portland, Oregon for our quadrennial General Conference. This event happens...

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Sermon May 31: The Chicken or The Egg

Posted by on Jun 2, 2015 in Sunday Message KB | Comments Off on Sermon May 31: The Chicken or The Egg

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/The-Chicken-or-the-Egg-May-31-2015.mp3 Faith United Methodist Church May 31, 2015 Trinity Sunday Rev. Kristabeth E. Atwood Scripture: John 3:1-17 Prayer of Illumination: As we reflect on your word, O God, may your Spirit of Truth bring us wisdom to carry the message of the Gospel in our hearts. May we live according to your word that we might reflect your glory. Amen. Sermon:  The Chicken or The Egg? We’ve all heard the saying, Two’s company; Three’s a crowd! The same thing is said in a different way when someone comments, “Oh no, you two go ahead. I don’t want to be a third wheel.” The idea is that it is easier, and more comfortable, when two people are together. When a third person joins in, it just gets awkward. Well this Sunday is a little bit awkward. Today we try to understand the Trinity. Three in One. One in Three. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Lover, Beloved, Love. Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. God in Three Persons. Holy, Holy, Holy. Blessed Trinity. Preachers have gone to great lengths to try to explain the Trinity. Sometimes we explain it as soil, seed and water. A plant needs all three to grow. There is also the egg description. In an egg there are three parts. The shell, the white and the yolk make up one egg. This may ‘beg’ the age-old question: Which came first? The chicken or the egg? A third explanation uses water as an illustration. We experience water in three forms ~ liquid, vapor and ice ~ but it is still the same substance. One in Three. Three in One. Yet, none of these illustrations really captures the nature of the Trinity. As Barbara Brown Taylor puts it, the Trinity is a logic-buster. There is no way to explain how our God is both one and three at the same time. We can get theological about it and talk about God in three hypostatic modes of being, but that doesn’t help much either. Because, when it comes right down to it, it is simply a mystery. In fact, the word Trinity is a non-Scriptural term that was developed as a way to describe the mystery we see reflected in the Scriptures. There are several places in the Gospel where we hear Jesus speak of the Father and the Spirit. In today’s lesson, Nicodemus’ mysterious encounter with Jesus, Jesus speaks of being sent by God and being born of the Spirit. Coming from a strictly monotheistic tradition the early Jewish followers of Christ had to explain how Jesus could be both God and human and how the Spirit of God could blow among us. The doctrine of the Trinity was developed to address just that. But mysteries that are explained cease to be mysteries, right? As Nicodemus asked Jesus, “How can these things be?” Dispelling the mystery is the temptation we fall into when we try to explain the unexplainable, to illustrate what cannot be illustrated. When we think we have a handle on the Trinity; that’s when we’re really in trouble. The only thing we can say for sure about the Trinity is that we can probably never fully comprehend it. I think I agree with what Johannes Tauler wrote in Seasons of the Spirit, “To experience the working of the Trinity is better than to talk about it.” What is compelling to me about the Trinity is that it reflects a God in relationship ~ relationship with us and relationship with each other. God doesn’t go it alone, so what makes us sometimes think that we have to? The Father,...

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