Therefore, since we are justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus
Christ, through whom we have obtained access
to this grace in which we stand; and we boast
in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And
not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings,
knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character
produces hope, and hope does not disappoint
us, because God’s love has been poured
into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that
has been given to us.
the grace, mercy and peace of God our Father
be with us in the name of our risen Lord and
Savior, Jesus Christ; Amen.
(Note … the icon to which I am referring
in this sermon is found at the end …)
Pastors can get into real trouble if they
attempt in a 10 minute sermon to explain the
doctrine of the Holy Trinity. After all, it
is a mysterious way that we try to get a small
sense of who God is in relationship with creation
as a whole, and and each one of us personally.
Probably the best ways to preach on Holy Trinity
Sunday is through poetry or artwork. I am
not the best poet or artist, but I have always
admired the icon that is on the front of your
bulletin. I want you to consider this brief
message an auditory and visual reflection
on the Holy Trinity. Some use the language
of “divine dance” when they talk
about the Holy Trinity – the parts of
God interplaying with each other and with
creation. This icon attests to that idea of
God’s nature and relationship with us.
In the book of Genesis, we see the divine
dance in an early enigmatic story. “The
Lord” appears to Abraham as “three
men” or “three angels,”
and Abraham and Sarah seem to see the Holy
One in the presence of these three; they bow
before them and call them “lord”.
Abraham and Sarah’s first instinct is
one of invitation and hospitality—to
create a space of food and drink for the guests.
Here we have humanity feeding God; it will
take a long time to turn that around in the
human imagination, to believe that we, too,
could be invited to the divine table.
This story inspired the piece of devotional
religious art on our bulletins today. It was
created by iconographer Andrei Rublev, who
lived from about 1360 to about 1430. Sometimes
called, “The Hospitality of Abraham”
it also is referred to simply as, “The
Trinity.” As icons do, this painting
attempts to point beyond itself, inviting
a sense of both the beyond knowing and the
intimate communion that exists in our midst.
There are three significant colors in Rublev’s
icon, each illustrating a facet of the Holy
fullness, wholeness, the ultimate Source.
Blue: “the Incarnate Christ”—both
sea and sky mirroring one another. Notice
the Christ figure in the middle, wearing blue
and holding out two fingers, telling us he
has put spirit and matter, divinity and humanity,
together within himself. Under the blue of
creation is the red of suffering.
Green: “the Spirit”—the
divine photosynthesis that grows everything
from within by transforming light into itself
Hildegard of Bingen, a German mystic from
the 12th century, called this viriditas, or
the greening of all things. Green can also
be made by combining blue and gold.
As you can see, the icon shows the Holy One
in the form of Three, eating and drinking,
in infinite hospitality and utter enjoyment
between themselves. If we take the depiction
of God in The Trinity seriously, we have to
say, “In the beginning was the Relationship.”
The gaze between the Three shows the deep
respect between them as they all share from
a common bowl. Notice the Spirit’s hand
points toward the open and fourth place at
the table! Is the Holy Spirit inviting, offering,
and clearing space? I think so! And if so,
for what, and for whom? Consider this; at
the front of the table there appears to be
a little rectangular hole. Most people just
pass right over it, but some art historians
believe the residue of possible glue on the
original icon indicates that there was perhaps
once a mirror glued to the front of the table.
It’s stunning when you think about it:
There was room at this table for a fourth—the
one in the mirror. The observer. You!
Yes, you—and all of creation—are
invited to sit at the divine table, to participate
in the divine dance of mutual friendship and
love. The mirror seems to have been lost over
the centuries, both in the icon and in our
on-the-ground understanding of who God is—and
therefore who we are, too! Paul’s words
about how we have peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ depict a unity that all
of us share with our Trinitarian God. And
as Jesus lived and experienced the sufferings
of life, so we do the same. Our hope, our
deepest connection with the God is the sufferings
that produce endurance, which produce character,
which produce a hope that does not disappoint
us because the Holy Spirit has poured God’s
love into our hearts.
On this Father’s Day as we remember
and celebrate those who have lived out a calling
to be a father, we remember the many roles
that these men play for their families. We
also remember the hospitality they embody,
the playfulness they showed us, and the strength
so many of them embodied. If we were lucky,
our fathers also exhibited a truthful humility
– not denying weakness, but hoping in
God to somehow make them good at their fatherly
These colors burst out to me on this icon
– the golds, blues, reds and greens.
The hole which used to contain a mirror, reminds
me of my place alongside of God at this table.
I don’t understand it, and if anyone
tells you that they totally understand the
Trinity or Baptism or Communion, or any of
the mysteries of the church, you can just
nod and walk away. These are the things that
are not meant to be fully understood; these
are the gifts of God’s grace given to
us so that we might experience his love and
have life abundant. May it be so, in the name
of Christ our Lord. Amen.