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The Holy Trinity
(Trinity Sunday)

" Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; We beseech thee that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith, and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen"
(Collect for Trinity Sunday, BCP)

"...through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen". (p. 18, top)

What is implicit in the Person and role of the Father, and that of the Son, and that of the Holy Spirit?

As we examine the Holy Trinity, and attempt to distill the uniqueness of each Person of the Trinity, we will increase our knowledge and understanding of the nature of God, and find as a result much cause for praise and worship. But we will also discover a parallel commentary on on the nature of fallen man, and especially fallen modern man, who would set up systems to replace his worship of God. For if men will not worship and devote themselves to this God who, though high, exalted, and mysterious, is yet ardent, self-sacrificing love... then they will run from Him in craven fear, interminably delaying that day when they must meet Him, accepting virtually any substitute that will serve to banish the Living God far, far away, out of sight, out of mind.

But we who believe must instead look steadfastly at the Holy Trinity, for in doing so we will find not the source of our greatest dread, but that which is the very key to our wholeness and completion. I believe you will agree with me that beholding the Godhead in this unmoored age in which we find ourselves is of all activities the safest and most beneficial. It should occupy us now and forever.

I. The Father: Authority

What do I find in God the Father? I find authority.

The President was recently quoted repeating Pres. Truman's well-worn phrase, “The buck stops here”, with reference to the Gulf oil spill. This is supposed to be a declaration of responsible authority, but simply saying so doesn't make it so. The oil spill crisis is bringing to the forefront this whole embarrassing, vexing issue of authority ---who possesses it and is making use of it?-- which appears to be the plague of our times, when character and virtue and manly decisiveness are in such remission. Who is responsible?

To whom can we go for relief? Is it BP, or its subsidiaries who constructed and maintained the rig? Is it the President of the United States, or the EPA, or the Minerals Management Bureau? Where can the blame be placed? And who has the power to make authoritative and final decisions?

When there has been some terrible lapse of responsibility, notice how liberally the Blame Game is employed. Fingers are being pointed in as many directions as the compass allows. And no one wishes to unequivocally assume responsibility, because of the implications. The problem is too vast, the burden of culpability too great, for anyone to want to embrace such an apparently awful position. And so blame-shifting is the desperate practice: a fearful, underhanded, devious searching around for someone..., someone upon which to pin the fault.

All of it is a sorry admission of absolute irresponsibility on all levels. There are, after all, jobs, reputations, retirement accounts, and a host of selfish interests to protect.

And so the consequence is that nobody is left knowing anything about what really is going on. The public remains largely uninformed, the infraction is left unpunished, the certainty of appropriate justice being applied is missed, a guarantee of fool-proof measures put into place to counter the possibility of such things happening again is left remote.

Maybe one of two people will be fired to satisfy the voracious impulse for a scape-goat.

But there will be no fundamental satisfaction in any of it. Just a host of doubts, theories, and questions. Nothing will remain but complete irresolution.

Absent will be the assurance of authority; the security provided by the intervention of someone who knows what they are doing, who assumes the blame for any future mishaps, and really means it, and who administers peace and assurance by both possessing and exuding the essence of real authority.

In this world largely shorn of this essence, the troubling consequence is that bogus and false authority moves in, ready to rule by arbitrary force and power, instead of by the virtues of true authority which possesses authorization to rule because of inherent character or a proven record, or of other ennobling characteristics which define genuine leadership.

God, the Father. True Authority. God the Almighty. The Ancient of Days. The Eternal God. The Source of all being. The Judge of all flesh. The Sovereign Lord. The Alpha and Omega: the Beginning and the End.

Here is Authority in all that could ever be desired in the concept. Absolute reliability. Unlimited and incontrovertible power. Unending wisdom, understanding, knowledge. Unopposable purpose. In the Father we find all we can find nowhere on earth for an epitome of authority. Before Him all questions will ultimately be answered, all disputes resolved; every unreconciled, unresolved, unbrokered matter brought to complete, final,satisfying conclusion.

God, the Father. We all need the bosom of a loving, protective, strong, and powerful Father upon which to lay our weary heads. We hear there the steady heartbeat that tells us “all is well”.

II. The Son: Love

The Son of God. God in the flesh. The Only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. The infinite condescension of God: kindness, compassion, pity, empathy, the gift of God sent to us, among us, to take upon Himself all that destroys and plagues us, to bear both our individual and collective misery within Himself, to die in our place. God who has left His high and exalted throne, casting aside His roles of unbelievable and magnificent glory, to don the dismal rags of human existence. To veil His glory. To walk invisibly and quietly among us as a stranger and outcast. To be subject to all the arbitrary whim of fallen man: raised to the height of evanescent praise, glory, and fame, only a few days later to be mocked, scourged, shamed, and rejected as the criminal of criminals, as a thing to be loathed, despised, rejected. How can it be?

God the Son. Love incarnate. Authority set aside in favor of involvement. In human terms, the unexpected, the utterly unexpected: that which by every right is the greatest and highest, setting aside such privilege, and in utterable love, becoming the lowest and worst for the sake of redeeming that which possessed no way whatsoever to help itself.

"And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." God, in all His glory, given as a gift to man. Who can explain it? Who can comprehend it?

Where the world proffers us a false love, feigned acceptance, happiness in temporal pursuits, satisfaction from that which can never deeply satisfy, promise of fulfillment that can never be realized, God the Son alone has brought us the real article, unmixed with hype, deception, and qualification.

III. The Holy Spirit: Divine Power Manifested In and Among Us

God the Holy Spirit. The active Principle of God. God in intense activity in His universe, pervading every corner of it with His eager, relentless, transformative power. God pouring His very own essence into the hearts of sinful men, bringing them to new birth, renewing them, empowering and raising them up-- filled with a new principle of everlasting life. Bringing to a conclusion the work of redemption initiated by the Father, wrought by
the Son upon the Cross, completed by the raising of the Son of God from death by the Spirit of Power. And brought to all mankind collectively through the outpouring of the Spirit from the throne of God on the day of Pentecost. The practical, down-to-earth, rubber-meets-the-road, where-you-and-I-are outworking of the whole plan of God in saving mankind. The Holy Spirit. That Agency completing the work of God in creation and redemption

Conclusion:

Because of the Father, the universe can never ultimately say to God, “You left us to the vagaries and uncertainties of ungoverned existence. You abandoned us to disorder and life without absolutes, with no recourse to the bar of justice for the resolution of all that seems so unresolvable.”

Because of the Son, the universe can never say, “You were not one of us. Your very authority and position made it impossible for You to understand us. You withheld Yourself from us by exercising Your right as the Supreme One to remain aloof and uninvolved. You didn't step in when our need for You was desperate. You do not know us, and have left it impossible for us to know You.” No, this could never be said.

And because of the Holy Spirit, it can never be said to God, “We could not find You. You were inaccessible on Your royal throne, high and lifted up, remote from creation, from earth, and from individual men. And when You visited earth, You were limited to a particular space and a certain point in time and so were not available to the rest of earth's history, nor to the rest of the earth itself.”

No, these things can never be said; and if they are said, they can never hold, because the facts prove otherwise.

Since God the Three-in-One cannot be thus charged, on any front, precisely because of His three-fold makeup, it follows than an unbelieving world lives in denial, in willful self-delusion, in a fantasy of its own construction peculiarly tailored to maintain itself in a state wherein its sin and rebellion are rendered justifiable, understandable, excusable, and even good and desirable. In other words, a topsy-turvy world of false premises destined for collapse and destruction.

A world without Trinity is a world without authority, without control, without love, without hope of deliverance, without the possibility of change and transformation. This is man's world, where the throne is occupied not by the Triune God but by a substitute trinity, one which must include false authority, false salvation, and false ability to universally apply them. It is the authority of power and intelligence and education; the salvation of philosophy and governmental control; the active principle of technology.

But let us turn willfully away from all of that, and behold the Holy Trinity. This is our God. This is the wonder and magnificence far too high for us to even begin to get our minds around. This is order and complexity and beauty, and yet supreme simplicity, that will occupy all of eternity in unending worship and the unfolding of understandings and revelations far exceeding even these.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity: we beseech thee, that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith and evermore defend us from all adversities, who livest and reignest, one God, world without end. Amen.

In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Holy Trinity Church, Waterville ME
Ed Kalish, Deacon

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