Sunday, 31 May 2015

Can't make it to church? 31 May 15

So here we are at Trinity Sunday yet again and across the Church (universal) congregations will be hearing of how God, the Holy Trinity, is best understood by one of the following descriptions, all of which I have heard preached over the past few years.

The Trinity is like:

The person: mother, daughter, sister (or,of course be son, father, brother - I heard a woman preach female version)

The egg: Shell, white, yolk

States of matter: ice, water, steam (have also heard carbon, graphite, diamond given)

Head and shoulders: shampoo, conditioner, dandruff treatment

OT, NT, HS: Father the Old Testament, Jesus the New, Holy Spirit after Jesus ascended

Now most of the time we miss the point that the Trinity is not different modes (or aspects, attributes or purpose) of the same person. This is the most common error I encounter and the term for this is 'modalism'. We have one God but three different modes or works

The person 
Three perceived, and existing, beings; each separate and distinct but not able to exist in all three states at the same time. These are modes in which the subject can function but not concurrently as all three. Communication between the three is also impossible.

The Egg
If the egg were an accurate model of the Trinity then we'd have what we call 'tritheistic' (three gods)thinking for each element is a completely separate entity (even though it comes in one package). Each exists in it's own right as a separate and the shell is the container for two other distinct parts.

States of Matter
Another 'modal' example because although all three are of one substance (water) the water is hydrogen and Oxygen (which means it's not one substance but a compound) and is in one of three modes: liquid, solid or vapour (it's not a gas either, despite the preaching of someone a couple of years back). If you can have water, steam and ice all in the same place then come back and I'll consider using it (but there will still be problems)

Head and Shoulders
A great product to be sure but depending which approach you take you have a problem because you have to decide whether it's three products in the same container (tritheism) or it slips (in a shiny and fly away manner) into being modal again.

Sit down now! To have a God of the Old Testament, Jesus as the God of the New Testament and the Holy Spirit as the Person who takes on the baton from Jesus is just plain heresy!

So who, what and how do we regard the Trinity?
One person
One Substance
Three distinct and separate wills

I always find myself returning to this neat little graphic:

All three are God and so are therefore ONE and yet the ONE God possesses three distinct and individual wills. The unity is the key and this unity is found in being one substance: homo [same] ousios (substance).

And here's a little help regarding the Trinity bringing you a green, Shamrocklike, being from St Patrick (who I am led to believe never gave us this much loved example of the Trinity):

The Collect
Holy God, faithful and unchanging:
enlarge our minds with the knowledge of your truth,
and draw us more deeply into the mystery of your love,
that we may truly worship you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever. Amen.

The reading absolutely rock today: Enjoy them:
Isaiah 6.1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;  the whole earth is full of his glory.’ 

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’ Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the Lord, you powers of heaven, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the Lord the honour due to his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is mighty in operation; the voice of the Lord is a glorious voice.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon; He makes Lebanon skip like a calf and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord splits the flash of lightning;the voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare; in his temple all cry, ‘Glory!’
The Lord sits enthroned above the water flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king for evermore.
The Lord shall give strength to his people;  the Lord shall give his people the blessing of peace.

Romans 8.12-17
So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh - for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

John 3.1-17
Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?’ Jesus answered, ‘Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Nicodemus said to him, ‘How can these things be?’Jesus answered him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

‘Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

‘For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.'

Post Communion
Almighty and eternal God,
you have revealed yourself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
and live and reign in the perfect unity of love:
hold us firm in this faith,
that we may know you in all your ways
and evermore rejoice in your eternal glory,
who are three Persons yet one God,
now and for ever.

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