Unholy TrinityPosted: May 28, 2010
Ahhhh. Trinity Sunday. That day in the church year when we celebrate the mystery of the “one in three and three in one” that embodies the fullness of God. And the day when every rector in all of Christendom scrambles to find a seminarian to preach. Or a curate. Or anyone who is closer to the theological gymnastics of the seminary experience.
This year, as I anticipate the imminent (but not-soon-enough-to-preach-on-Trinity-Sunday) arrival of our newly-hired curate I decided to try something different. So I asked my Facebook friends to send me key phrases of Trinitarian minutia that often wind up in sermons preached on Trinity Sunday by seminarians. It’s your lucky day because I have prayerfully combined them into a Trinity Sunday Homilette. As they like to say in seminary (but really nowhere else), “That’ll preach!”
Before I share the text, I should note that the key to good preaching on Trinity Sunday is linguistic sleight of hand. If you distract the congregation enough with props they won’t pay attention to the heresy you’re undoubtedly spewing. This lowers the potential of being reported to the bishop. As does holding the liturgy during Memorial Day weekend.
Trinity Sunday Sermon
“The New Paradigm of Homoousious”
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. (And I really mean it this time).
The Trinity [three intertwined circles appear on a giant projection screen]. It’s a confusing topic; one that I am not qualified to speak about because I failed the systematic theology portion of the General Ordination Exam. [Three circles morph into a green three-leaf clover] St. Patrick converted the King of Ireland to the Christian faith by using the clover [use awkward hand gesture to point to the screen]. As he held up the clover he enumerated (or is that renumerated?) about the Trinity telling the king that…[choir sings St. Patrick’s Breastplate to drown out the next few phrases. Twelve minutes later when the hymn ends and everyone has processed around the church nine times, the preacher continues].
The interplay between the Persons of the Trinity is like a dance. But not just any dance — a perichoretic dance of love. I once danced this way at a wedding of a good friend. My date left with a groomsman while I was doing my interpretive dance of the Trinity. It was at that moment that I decided to go to seminary.
But I digress. Where was I? Oh, the interpenetration of modality. Which sounds vaguely obscene until you remember that God loves you. Like a fox. But in a co-eternal, co-equal, co-habitating kind of way.
Did I mention I used to be a horrible acolyte back in the day? [After laughing at his own joke, preacher picks up three tapers and attempts to bring them together and then pull them apart. Unfortunately he lights the pulpit hanging on fire and puts them out with the three glasses of water he brought up to supplement the fire illustration in case it fell flat. He recovers by singing an a capella version of “Holy, Holy, Holy,” dramatically miming the line “Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea.”]
In sum, we are all called to a hermeneutic of being immortal and invisible while still being led by faith and not by sight. Let me end by quoting from the well-loved Athanasian Creed; so beloved in church lore that it’s relegated to page 846 of the Book of Common Prayer. In the “Historical Documents” section that you may have covertly perused earlier in the sermon. “Blah, blah, blah Unity, blah, blah, blah Godhead, blah, blah, blah Essence.”