First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday

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Ash Wednesday, Year C March 2, 2022 Ash Wednesday, Year C Genesis, chapter 4
Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C February 27, 2022 Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year C Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]


First Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday

Sermon Date:June 19, 2011

Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2:4a, 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20

Liturgy Calendar: First Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

Through the years I am sure you have heard many sermons in which the preacher tries to explain the Trinity, our belief that God is three in one, and one in three.   

The Trinity is ultimately a mystery—a reflection of the mysterious God who from the high vault of heaven created the heavens and the earth,  and yet stooped down and blew the breath of life into the dust from which we are formed, the God tells us from a mountain peak at the end  of the gospel according to Matthew that he will be with us forever and ever, a God who blew into our lives last week as wind and as flame, burning into our very beings—and how all of these parts of God are interrelated, which is a mystery.    

But because we are rational human beings who love explanations, by the end of the fourth century theologians developed the doctrine of the Trinity to help us understand how God could be One and yet Three.

In this day and age, why should we care?  Why devote a whole Sunday to a doctrine that ultimately is full of mystery?


The  doctrine of the Trinity tells us not only about God, but a deep truth about who we are to become as human beings.

We human beings, at least the workings of our minds, have often been described in Trinitarian terms.   In the fourth century, Augustine described the trinity of our minds as memory, understanding and will.   (St Augustine, The Trinity, pg 376).  In the twentieth century, Freud brought us the id, the ego, and the super-ego.   

Here’s my take on why we are Trinitarian beings. 

We are physical beings.  We get hungry and thirsty.  We feel pain.  We feel  the warmth of the sun on our skin, and we delight in the wonderful feeling of a cool summer breeze. 

But there’s more to us than our bodies.  That longing to be connected with something greater than ourselves, that part of us that is more than just our body, is what we call our spirit.   This seeking and longing part of us lasts into eternity.

Bodies and spirits—so what is the missing third piece?   If you look at your bulletin cover, you will find a comic strip by Hilary Price, Rhymes with Orange.  The title of the strip is The Map, and a man is staring at a billboard with a large black hole.  The caption reads You Are Here, and an arrow points down into the hole. 

The caption reads, “This explained Ed’s stuck feeling.”

My premise is that this hole lies not outside of us, but at the center of our very beings, and that, as St Augustine puts it, this hole is a God shaped hole. 

This  God shaped hole at the center of our beings is a hole we long to fill.  In his great work, The Confessions, St Augustine says that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. 

Because of this hole, we’re restless, we’re questioning.  We’re creative, we’re searching and longing.

And as the caption to the cartoon notes, we can get stuck in the ways that we try to fill this hole unless we fill the hole with God. 

As we work to fill this void, we experience many failures—we get addicted to things that seem to be easy ways to fill the void—we may drink too much and find ourselves addicted to alcohol, or we may turn to drugs to fill that void.  Maybe we find ourselves eating a lot of “comfort” food.  Or we may hope to fill the void with the approval of others.  Or we may seek to feel this hole with work and by staying busy.   

When our search comes up empty, or our efforts to fill the hole backfire on us,   our tendency may be to fill the hole with anger, bitterness, and negativity,   or with a sort of gray malaise that holds us captive and makes us want to give up, not to care any more.  Evil jumps in to fill the hole. 

But filling the hole with God is the only way to reach  true completion as a human being.    And because God is endlessly creative, God helps us to fill these holes of ours in endlessly creative ways, unique to each and every one of us—if we let God into our lives and intentionally cultivate our relationship with God. 

Now how do we know when we are filling this hole at our center with God?  If you were here last week, you heard the gospel in which Jesus appears to the disciples who are locked in the upper room.  The hole inside each of the disciples has been left gaping wide open because  Jesus has been torn from them and they are full of fear.

But when Jesus  comes into their midst, they find their fear replaced by joy, and they are able to receive the peace that he brings to them.  Peace and joy at our centers are two hallmarks of the presence of God filling that hole in our lives, no matter how much outward turmoil surrounds us.

Paul shares this idea in his closing words to the Corinthians.   Live in peace—and the God of love and peace will be with you.

Joy, love, peace—sure signs that God is dwelling at our centers—when we experience these things, we know that God is filling up that hole inside of us. 

In the final words of his letter, Paul closes with a Trinitarian blessing.

Hey Corinthians– may the grace of the Lord Jesus, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you!

God –the Three in One. 


Now my favorite symbol for understanding the Trinity—God the three in one, is apple pie.

Apple Pie

And to illustrate what I mean, I made this apple pie to share with you after this service—right on the front lawn, you’ll find a table and some plates and some forks and some pies.  Please help yourself to pie!

This pie is Trinitarian for several reasons.  First of all, it has three parts.  It has a crust, it has a filling, and it has a topping.  Second, each of the three parts has three ingredients.

The crust is made of flour with a little salt thrown in, some shortening, and some ice water.

The filling contains apples, sugar, and cinnamon.

The topping is made of a trinity of flour, butter and sugar.

When all of these ingredients are subjected to the heat of the oven over a period of time, they merge together into one delicious pie, which would not be complete if any of the ingredients were lacking. 

This apple pie is a  great symbol  for God as Trinity.  In order to understand most fully who God is, we Christians know God as the transcendent God, so mysterious that we will never ever know God fully in this life.  We know God as Jesus, who lived and died as one of us—not some far off distant deity, but God who experienced the joys and sorrows of being human.  We know God as that voice that whispers to us, bringing us inspiration, understanding, and  guidance.  The ways in which we know God are incomplete until we embrace all of these ways of knowing God, knowing that even then God remains a mystery.  This pie would be incomplete without its three parts. 

And this apple pie is also a symbol for who we are to be as Christians in this world. 

The great gospel according to Matthew, the great treasure of the teachings of Jesus, closes with the passage I read today.

On the mountain in Galilee, the disciples find Jesus who says to them, 

“Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” 

And lo, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

How are we to go out? 

We want to go out as whole and as complete as we can be, so that we can be the best witness possible to the world of the love that God has for each and every one of us!

We want to go out carrying that love to others. 

Let’s put it this way.  If you were going to visit someone and planned to take them a pie, would you take a pie that had only a crust and a topping, and was missing the filling? 

Of course not!  What kind of pie would that be? 

We are like this pie!  In order to serve God, we want to make sure that we let God fill that God shaped hole at the center of our beings so that we are whole and complete.  

When we eat, we fill up our physical bodies with the food we need to live. 

And when we eat together around God’s table,  as we do most Sundays when we share bread and wine  (and today when we also share this pie),  we fill that God shaped hole inside us as we are united not only with God but with one another—as God fills us all  at this  heavenly banquet, and we are satisfied.

And miraculously, not only is our own emptiness filled, but

as we are subjected to the fire of God’s love in our hearts,  we  find that all of us, with our individual differences and uniqueness, are molded together into one body, the Body of Christ,  just as the ingredients in this pie are baked and become one delicious pie. 

Jesus  sends us  forth  as this Body to be broken and shared as food for a world longing for God’s love.  Our job is to try to go out as complete as we can be—so that we can feed the world with God’s love. 

And God, the maker of the sun and the stars, Jesus, who walked with us on this earth and broke bread with us and gave us living water,   and the Holy Spirit, who comes to us on the wind,  and burns its way into us as a flame, –the Holy Trinity–will go with us.

“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”


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