|Lent 1, Year B||February 18, 2018||The First Sunday in Lent, Year B||Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-9, Mark 1:9-15|
|Ash Wednesday, Year B||February 14, 2018||Ash Wednesday, Year B||Isaiah 58:1-12;Psalm 103 or 103:8-14; 2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10;Matthew 6:1-6,16-21|
|Last Sunday after the Epiphany||February 11, 2018||Last Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 9:2-9|
|Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany||February 4, 2018||The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Isaiah 40:21-31; Mark 1:29-39|
|Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany||January 28, 2018||Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Mark 1:21-28, Psalm 111|
|Third Sunday after the Epiphany||January 21, 2018||Third Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||Jonah 3:1-5,10;Psalm 62:6-14;1 Corinthians 7:29-31;Mark 1:14-20|
|Second Sunday after the Epiphany||January 14, 2018||Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year B||John 1:43-51|
|The Eve of the Nativity||December 24, 2017||Eve of the Nativity, Year B||Luke 2:1-14(15-20)|
|Second Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 10, 2017||Second Sunday of Advent, Year B||Isaiah 40:1-11, 2 Peter 3:8-15a, Mark 1:1-8, Psalm 85:1-2,8-13|
|First Sunday in Advent, Year B||December 3, 2017||First Sunday of Advent, Year B||Mark 13:24-37|
|Christ the King, Year A||November 26, 2017||Christ the King Year A||Matthew 25:31-46|
|Thanksgiving, Year A||November 22, 2017||Thanksgiving, Year A||Psalm 65|
|Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 19, 2017||Proper 24, Year A||Matthew 25:36-37|
|Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost, Year A||November 12, 2017||Proper 27, Year A||Matthew 25:1-13|
|All Saints, Year A||November 5, 2017||All Saints’ Day, Year A||Matthew 5:1-12|
Trinity Sunday, First Sunday after Pentecost , Year A
Sermon Date:June 11, 2017
Scripture: Genesis 1:1-2, 2:4a; 2 Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20
Liturgy Calendar: Trinity Sunday, Year A
Last Sunday, we celebrated Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit to the disciples, which resulted in the birth of the church. Today, on Trinity Sunday, always the Sunday following Pentecost, we celebrate the doctrine of the Trinity.
We Christians know God as one being in an eternal relationship of love with God’s self, and all that God created. We speak of this relationship as the Trinity- God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
For the past two thousand years, Christian theologians have pondered this Trinitarian understanding of God, and every year on this Sunday preachers get tempted to come up with some clever example to explain the nature of God, whose nature is of course ultimately unexplainable. You all know that in that sermon genre, my favorite example of the Trinity is my Trinitarian Apple Pie recipe.
More useful, though, is the consideration of how our belief in the Trinitarian nature of God defines the ways in which we live out our lives as Christians, by dwelling with intention and with perseverance in loving, lifegiving relationships not only with God, but with one another and with all of creation.
Let’s turn to creation itself for an illustration of how our belief in a Trinitarian God works to give us abundant, harmonious green and growing lives that can only take root and grow in the ground of God’s love—and God’s love is an eternally loving relationship because we know that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each “person” of the Trinity relating to the others in love.
The writer of Genesis was a theologian, not a scientist, and yet, the way in which God lays out all of creation in the first chapter of Genesis makes profound sense scientifically.
On the first day, God created light, and separated the light from the darkness. And on the second day, God made a container for life by opening a space in that dark and formless void and the face of the deep.
On the third day, God had the dry land appear, and gathered the water together in the seas. And then God made the plants—plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it.
Imagine the earth, the seas, the vegetation, all this potential, just waiting in readiness for what God will create next. Everything is poised and ready for action.
So on the fourth day, God flips on the switch and lets loose the power of light. God creates the lights for the sky—the sun, the moon, and the stars—to give light upon the earth.
So now, at the end of the fourth day, God has provided the three things—- air, water, and sunlight–necessary for the process of photosynthesis, the process by which the earth will spring into sustaining life.
The plants are ready to go to work.
Somewhere in our school days, we all learned about the process of photosynthesis.
Through this process, plants create energy in the form of food for all the rest of creation. And as plants create energy, they also create a byproduct—oxygen–that element of the air which we creatures must have to breathe.
So here’s a broad outline of how photosynthesis works.
Remember that oak tree that I brought to church on Rogation Sunday? It had just sprung up in our yard from an acorn that had fallen from one of our oak trees. Look how it’s grown!
It’s grown because of the process of photosynthesis. The tree is growing because it has three things—water, air, and light.
I’m going to water it now—because water is necessary for photosynthesis. This little tree will take in the water through its roots.
Now on the backs of these leaves, although we can’t see them without a microscope, are tiny openings called stomata. The stomata are like the windows of these leaves. Air enters into the leaves through the stomata. And the chemical in the air that the plant needs for photosynthesis is carbon dioxide.
So now for the third thing. This tree needs light for photosynthesis.
In these leaves are tiny cells called chloroplasts filled with a green chemical called chlorophyll. These tiny cells are busy right now absorbing the sunlight.
The chlorophyll takes the energy of the sunlight and uses that energy to split the water molecules that have come up from the roots into hydrogen and oxygen. The plant doesn’t need the oxygen, so the leaves release the oxygen back into the atmosphere for us to breathe. In fact, we can’t live without oxygen, so good thing the plants are sending out what they don’t need to us, because we DO need oxygen to live.
Then, as photosynthesis continues, the plant combines the hydrogen from the water and the carbon dioxide from the air and unites them to create glucose, which is food for the plant.
This little tree is using the glucose that it’s making to grow, and it’s also storing up glucose in its roots and leaves and fruits for future use. Remember that acorn that this tree grew from? It was full of glucose from the parent tree, full of the energy that produced this little tree that will someday grow into a big tree with its own acorns if the process of photosynthesis continues.
What if I put this tree in a dark closet for several months and it had no light? It would die, even if it had air and water. What would happen if the tree had light and air, but no water? It would die. And what would happen if it had light and water, but no air? It would die.
It takes all three things—air, light, and water—for the process of photosynthesis to take place so that this tree can live and grow and produce fruit.
And thank you, tree, for giving me the oxygen that you don’t need as I stand here next to you. And in return, I’m going to share some carbon dioxide, which I don’t need, with you.
OK, so that’s it!
We need all three “persons” of the Trinity to live and grow into the people of love that God hopes we will become.
We need the living water—Jesus Christ—the living water of his love drawn up through our very roots—we put our roots down deep into the aquifer of the living water of Jesus’ love for us, so that we can be deeply rooted people of love.
We need the Holy Breath, the wind of the spirit, to fill our lungs, so that we can breathe out love on the world, not only through our words, but through our actions as well.
And we need the energy of God the Father’s light, to take the living water and holy breath and turn it into fruit that will nourish not only us, but all of those around us, so that we can produce the fruits of the spirit that Paul spells out in his letter to the Galatians and grow in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, and grow so well that we can share the abundance of these fruits out in the world.
After 13 chapters of trying to get the Corinthians straightened out, Paul gives them his last bit of advice—advice that applies to us as well. “Pull yourselves together” Paul tells them. “Listen to me.” “Agree with one another.” “Live in peace,” because living in peace allows a space for God to move in and set up housekeeping in our hearts.
The Corinthians couldn’t do these things alone, and neither can we.
Paul knew that the Corinthians needed all three persons of the Trinity to help them set aside their disagreements and live together in harmonious loving relationships that would in turn grow and bring forth that rich love for one another that would produce fruit and bear witness to God’s love out in the world.
So that’s why Paul closes his letter to the Corinthians with his parting blessing for them—and for us—the blessing we need to live green, growing and fruitful lives—the blessing of the Trinity.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”
When we invite the Trinity to set up housekeeping in our hearts, spiritual photosynthesis can go to work in our lives, so that ultimately, we can go do what Jesus asked the disciples to do on the mountain top that last day that they would be with him—Jesus asks us to go be witnesses of God’s everlasting love to the whole world—to make disciples, and to teach them love through our obedient love to God and one another, so that all the people that we meet will also want to grow and bear their fruits of love out in the world.
So absorb the light of God, drink in the living water, and take deep breaths of the Holy Spirit.
And may the gifts of the holy photosynthesis working in you provide air for those gasping for breath, and a never ending feast set out for all who are starving for love and for new life.