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7th June 2020


Passage: Psalm 8


You know that bit near the end of a murder mystery, where Poirot or Miss Marple or Inspector Frost tells everyone whodunnit? And why…and where?
All the way through the story you have been watching for clues and thinking- it was him, no it wasn’t; it was her, no she couldn’t have done it; what is this all about?
But, as the detective tells the story, everything falls into place. Of course… THAT is why Colonel Mustard was lurking in the cellar with a piece of lead pipe; THAT is why no-one saw Miss Scarlett going into the conservatory with the candlestick and of course it was the Revd Green who was the murderer. Should have known better than to trust a vicar.…
What looked like an inexplicable mystery has been unravelled. I get it.

Life is like that actually all the time. Think of our schoolteachers telling us about geography or maths or computer science and we might sit there with our minds totally muddled, wondering what on earth they are going on about. Until finally something they say makes sense and it all falls into place- I get it.
Or remember our parents nagging us continually about doing our homework, keeping away from drugs, being responsible and respectful about sex and we think ‘whatever…” until we are mature enough to say, yes, I get it now. I understand what they were trying to tell me and why it was important.

Think of our relationships; of just how long it takes for us really to get to know someone; to understand why they are as they are?
Or how long does it take us to understand ourselves, come to that- why we are as we are?
How long does it take us to fit together the pieces of art, drama, literature, politics, economics, history before we can finally get a clear picture of what our country is really all about?

Life is a whole series of mysteries to be explored and unravelled until things begin to make sense and we say, “I get it.”

Trinity Sunday is a day to say, “I get it.” Because it is the day on which we celebrate -I won’t say a complete- but a bigger picture of God.
Think back to when the Christian year started with Harvest Festival in the Autumn. It was all about the beauty and the bounty of the earth and we praised God as the giver of all life: a lot of people have seen reason to believe in some kind of supreme, creative being when they look at how intricately the natural world is balanced to sustain life. Right back in that psalm of King David and even before then, people looked at the heavens and the stars and thought Wow. There has to be a power behind all of this. This is called the argument from design.

OK. Our problem though is that the universe of itself has no compassion; no morality. As the old saying goes, “the rain falls on the just and the unjust.” Nature can be cruel in the extreme. So, although many will say ‘wow” at the beauty of the world, they will also say, “nothing doing. I cannot believe in a God worth knowing. Not in the face of so much innocent suffering. I don’t get it.”

But the year continues toward Christmas, when we hear the next part of the story- of how God entered our world as a mortal man; born amongst animals in a stable; growing up as a refugee in a foreign land; returning to a homeland which was under the iron fist of the Roman Emperor. This man-Jesus- experienced hunger and thirst, pain and exhaustion. He found that he could heal diseases that others could not but that he was treated with suspicion when he did. He gathered a company of loyal friends, who deserted him when he most needed them. He gave himself up into the hands of enemies who tortured him to death. And, through all this, he faced down evil, pain and death with goodness, love and forgiveness, turning the tables on all that was bad. This is our God and this God is worth knowing.

OK. But Jesus, living a physical life was an historical figure. He came into the world and he left the world. What about all the thousands of years before and after him? What was God doing then?

Last Sunday was Pentecost Sunday when we celebrated the living power of the Holy Spirit; the life of God in the world from the beginning; within each one of us from start to finish; making God a living reality; bringing Jesus alive for us day by day. It all fits together. We experience God as Creator, Saviour and Living Spirit. They are all one being, and we call this being Trinity. I get it.

Murder mysteries are a bit like fairy stories in that they tend to have neat, tidy endings where everything is explained, everything sorted out “and they all lived happily ever after.” Except of course, that life is not like that. A murder mystery will leave any amount of physical and emotional debris which will take years to clear up and no marriage-even between the fairy tale Prince and Princess- will be without its challenges.

The same is true of Trinity Sunday- seventeen hundred years ago, a council of Christian leaders and scholars set out this doctrine of the Christian faith in the neat, short Nicaean Creed….. and the next sixteen hundred, ninety-nine and a half years have been spent by Christians arguing about it.

Faith will never be summed up in a scientific or mathematical or philosophical or even theological formula. Because faith is about making sense of our day to day experience of God. Every day is different and every person living that day will have slightly different experience and if the stories we have heard and the theories we have learned do not make a difference to our living, then they are not worth hearing or learning.

In the film The History Boys, a group of exceptionally bright sixth-formers are put into the care of an innovative young teacher who teaches them not only how to give the “right” answers in their exams but how to relate what they are learning in history to what is going on in the world and in their own lives.
Each of them learns a lot more than just how to pass History A level with an A* grade. They begin to “get it” with regard to life as a whole.

Trinity Sunday then, is not about repeating a lesson or learning a creed. It is a step forward in understanding God and in living your life. It is not the end of your faith journey, when you say, “I get it,” but rather the inspiration to take the next steps forward.

I would like to finish then, by looking at St Paul’s famous words - where he describes this life as “seeing everything like a dim reflection in a bad mirror.” We only see things in part. We don’t see the whole picture.
“But,” says, Paul, “I know that one day I shall see everything clearly. Because I believe in One who knows me better than I know myself and who can see the whole picture.”

There are three things, he says, which are part of our life from beginning to end and which make all the difference to us: Faith, Hope and Love.
Faith. Believing that there is a power and a purpose behind the universe. Believing that there is, therefore, a power and a purpose in your own life. You are not an insignificant speck of dust in a vast cosmos. You count for something. You belong.
Hope. No, we cannot yet see the whole picture of life and God, but we live in the hope that one day we shall. So, we see our day to day lives as part of an ongoing journey towards truth, meaning that each moment counts. As we have learned to value our own lives, so we learn to value the world as a whole. We live in hope for the world- that our efforts to understand it, to make it safe and fair will come to fruition end. We do not give up in doing good.
Love. If the power behind the universe is a power of love-as Jesus Christ taught and lived; as the presence of the Holy Spirit constantly reminds us; then wherever we are, God is there. Not as an adjudicator: 4 out of 10/could do a whole lot better- but as a friend- don’t be scared; there is nothing we cannot sort between the two of us. And the constant love of God poured into our lives, gives us love to share with others in creating relationships, living as neighbours, sharing loving service and shaping communities of faith.
There is a whole lot of difference between people who live with faith, hope and love and those who do not.

On this Trinity Sunday, look back at how your picture of God has taken shape over this last year. Give thanks for the gifts of faith, hope and love. Look forward into your week ahead and pray that all you have learned and all you have been given may inspire your daily living. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.