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Homily for Trinity Sunday

In the name of the one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen

Created in the Image of God: Living a Trinitarian Life

In our Old Testament Reading for today, the story of Creation, we read, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man (adam) in our image, after our likeness’” (Genesis 1:26). While it is unclear how this plural usage was understood in ancient Israel, it has been understood in the Church as an acknowledgement of God as Trinity. This comes with the implication that we, as human, are somehow Trinitarian. The more we contemplate God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more we will be able to consider what this means for our lives.

In this homily, we will look at one element of Biblical teaching- the spatial image that God the Father is above us; God the Son is beside us, and God the Holy Spirit is within us. First, we will look at the basic revelation. Then, we will consider what it means that we have been created in this image. Finally, our challenge at the end will be to encourage us to be open more completely to God, and to live more completely our Trinitarian life for which we were made.

1) God the Father: In the first verse of the Bible, included in today’s Old Testament lesson, we read, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”. God stands outside or above all Creation. He both transcends all creation and yet fills it with his presence. As St. Paul writes, “For his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20).

2) God the Son: In Luke’s Gospel, during the encounter between Mary and the Archangel Gabriel, Gabriel told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy- the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). In Matthew’s Gospel, an angel tells Joseph in a dream, “…do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:20-21). Then, we hear from Luke that this fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, which is then quoted: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23). “Jesus” means “Yahweh Saves”, while “Immanuel” means “God with us”. Together, they declare that God saves human nature by becoming identified with it; Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.

3) God the Holy Spirit: Jesus tells his apostles the night before his crucifixion, having already announced his impending death, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). Last Sunday, on the Feast of Pentecost, we read the account of that event in Acts, which included the words, “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4). Also, Paul asked the Christians in Corinth, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”

(I Corinthians 3:16).

What does it mean that that we are created in the image of God?

I hasten to say that these reflections are but one small way to approach this question, the answer to which can only be revealed in God’s Kingdom. Having said that, let’s look at these spatial aspects of God as they inform and guide our lives.

1) God transcends his creation and yet expresses himself in every part of it. We are made to find our true home, our eternal purpose, by seeing this world from the perspective of God’s kingdom. In the Collect for Proper 4, which was used this last week following Pentecost, we prayed for God’s mercy, “that, with you as our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal” (BCP[1], p. 616). It is easy to lose this perspective, swayed by the noise of this daily life. Certainly, the news of this past week has demanded our attention and prayers. Nevertheless, only God can show us how to “pass through” these events safely, without losing our anchor in God and his purposes. The complexities of societal dynamics mustn’t blind us to our Godly vocation.

2) God identifies and unites himself with human nature. We are made for this relationship, which is not only the means of our salvation but also our reconciliation with all people. In the Summary of the Law, quoting the commandments to love God with all our faculties and our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40; 2019 BCP, p. 106), we are reminded that these are inseparable. We read in I John, “If anyone says. ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21). Christ is either in our brother or yearns to be. Do we allow God’s love to flow through us for each person?

3) God lives in each Christian. In this capacity, the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth (John 15:26) and equip us for ministry (I Corinthians 12). To reap the benefits of this work, we need to develop an openness to what God is doing within us. Recalling the Pentecost event, we know that the Spirit within each of us also binds us with one another, and our calling is connected to the whole Church; we are not solo Christians, as there is no such person.

Being created in the image of the Triune God, we are made to relate to him and to the world in these 3 ways. Concerning the Father, do we continue to seek his perspective on this life, this world? Or, are our prayers to him confined to the desires and problems of this life? Do we trust that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)?

Concerning the Son, do we allow God to reveal himself to us through our full humanity, or do we try to keep our spiritual life separate from our bodily, daily life? Also, do we strive to seek and serve Christ in others, regarding others with his love for them?

Regarding the Holy Spirit within us, do we take our place within the Body of Christ? We can do this in prayer and making contact even when we cannot worship together. Also, do we cultivate time for quiet, listening prayer and reflection? Do we read Scripture and Saints and teachers who can challenge us to learn more than we already know? The Spirit is sent to lead us; that journey is never described as finished in this life.

This great Feast Day of Trinity Sunday is rare in the calendar in not commemorating an event, but instead provides an opportunity to celebrate what God has chosen to reveal to us about himself. And, as we are made in his image, about us too. As Paul prayed for his church, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

COLLECT:

Almighty and everlasting God, you have given us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father, who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

[1] 2019 Book of Common Prayer, page 616.

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