St. Philips Episcopal Church, Marysville, WA
Readings - Episcopal Church
First reading Isiah 6:1-8
Second reading Rom 8:12-17
Gospel John 3:1-17
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.
Sermon - Rev. Karuna Duval
Whenever Rev. Rebecca asks me to preach I am always so honored and feel very privileged. Of course, Yes, I say. I love to be invited to preach because of this wonderful community and it challenges me to study, pray, contemplate and experience my faith in new ways.
What I did not realize was that this is Trinity Sunday. The Trinity!?!
To be fair, Rev. Rebecca said that I didn’t have to preach about the Trinity. Well, I had already been thinking and meditating on it anyway. So here goes.
First of all, when we think about the Trinity, we imagine a triangle, right? The triangle is one of the most stable forms. It is a universal symbol. It can symbolize strength or genders depending on its orientation. Many countries use it is a traffic symbol for hazard awareness. In Judaism, which uses two triangles, it represents the joining of heaven and earth. In Hinduism, the triangle is used in 5 of the 7 symbols for the chakras, with the heart chakra also being a double triangle, joining our physical-ness and our emotional/spiritual-ness. In math it is symbol for dynamism and change. For Christians it represents the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
For me the concept of the Trinity is something that, from a very young age I’ve struggled to understand, and still struggle with. Growing up Roman Catholic, in a parish with little freedom for curiosity, encouragement to question anything was non-existent. So for a long time I just went with it, the three are one and the one is three – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Basically they were the physical anchors of my faith – (make the sign of the cross), even though I didn’t understand it.
Curiously, over this week, what started to be revealed, ok re-revealed, was Oneness. Not Oneness as a static concept, a noun. But Oneness as true dynamic relationship, a verb. The Trinity as a way to recognize Oneness manifest as the flow of relationship. And I am, we are, included in the Oneness flow.
Richard Rohr talks about it this way: “God is much more a dynamic verb than a static noun. God is constant flow….the Trinity is saying, “In the beginning is the relationship.” When we start with God as relationship, we begin the spiritual journey on a very different foundation. This foundation is not static but continually evolving and creating new forms of communion and interdependence.”
Jesus says in John 17, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in usso that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be oneas we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”
Jesus is describing the relationship among himself, God and all of us and the Oneness, highlighting his desire for all to be included in the experience of the love of that relationship.
Even science is continuing to discover it is entirely a relational universe. We are not a universe of things, but a universe of relationships. Scientists looking through microscopes or through telescopes are seeing a pattern: everything is in relationship with everything else. Nothing stands autonomously. Nothing is solid. Nothing is static. Everything is in relationship. Relationship is the thing, the core.
Scientists and contemplatives alike are confirming that the foundational nature of reality is relational, and everything is indeed a part that replicates and mimics the whole. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm.
What a wonderful foundation for our understanding of holiness, our understand of God and the Trinity. We are inherently in the flow of the relationship with God, with Oneness. The Trinity being another concept and manifestation of that Oneness and relationship, inclusive of all.
As I have contemplated the Trinity, the flow and Oneness this week, I have come to understand and experience it as follows. Keeping in mind this is my experience, today.
The flow of the Trinity can be seen, experienced in, and as everything, all inclusive, nothing excluded.
With God (of the Trinity) as the Universal creativity energy. That from which everything comes, will be, and always is. God is the relationship with and through all. God creates and is creation, creating and is the embodied within me, everyone, everything, and the mysteries. Vedics say, there is nothing that is not God.
The Holy Spirit (of the Trinity) is the ever changing, moving mystery of creation. The relationship among our senses, feelings, intuitions, dreams, thoughts; the birthing and dying; when spring turns to summer and to fall and to winter; when I see the light in a another’s eyes; when we connect heart to heart, smile to smile, tear to tear; when I contemplate the mystery of the galaxies and their movement; when I pray.
Jesus (of the Trinity) is the embodiment of creativity. The physicality of creation, in people, in us, every one of us, as beings who have consciousness and awareness by which to contemplate and engage the relationship with creation (God) and the mysteries (the Holy Spirit). Jesus is the embodied relationship of engagement with all, inclusively. We are the embodied relationship of Oneness.
I know these concepts and illustrations are far from perfect in trying to express something that ultimately cannot really be explained in words. Because once we put words to this (even for our own attempt to understand it, even a little bit), we limit it. And Oneness is not limited. Oneness contains all the concepts we try to use to explain or understand, and it’s not limited by those concepts.
Lucky for us, we don’t even need to understand intellectually or theologically to participate in the flow of the Trinity, the Oneness. We are already here. We are the Oneness. The flow of the One is already rooted within, flowing with life, goodness, love, connection and communion.
Now when I make the sign of the cross, it is a physical reminder of my emerging experience of the Trinity, the Oneness, the dynamic ever-flowing relationship, and my inclusion in it.
How will you remember your inclusive relationship with God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit?
Unity in Lynnwood, WA
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, in the Roman Catholic Church
Readings - Roman Catholic Church
First reading Deut 4:32-34,39-40
Second reading Rom 8:14-17
Gospel Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age."
Sermon - Fr. Dan Duval
Last week, we celebrated Pentecost. For those unfamiliar with the Catholic Church or the Christian celebration, Pentecost is the remembrance of Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit, depicted as tongues of fire, onto the apostles before he was to leave their presence. This use of breath to impart energy to another being is a practice as old as time. Shamans both present day and of old used this technique to share specific vibrations, to return health or broken parts of someone to themselves. Humans have been using this way of mingling with each other on a deep level as long as humans have been in existence.
This Sunday, today, is the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, in which the Gospel has Jesus speaking these words “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,”
Both last week at Pentecost and this week in the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, Jesus is asking the apostles to go forth. He is asking both times for them to go to people of ALL nations. He is not saying, stay home and believe, he is saying, go tell EVERYONE. He is not saying, stay here in Jerusalem or only go to Bethany. He is saying go “make disciples of ALL nations”.
Last week at Pentecost we heard that the apostles were given the gift of tongues. This has been interpreted as the ability to speak to a language other than their own. It is said that those present, even from different nations were able to hear the message in their own language. Instead of relegating this “gift of the Spirit” to some miraculous ability to speak in different languages perhaps what is more important is that Jesus’s message is meant for everyone, not just those who are in the inner circle or speak the same language. Last week’s Gospel tells us that everyone was able to hear the message in their own language. Everyone was able to hear and understand.
The Trinity, as explained by Richard Rohr, Cynthia Bourgeault and other modern mystics, is about relationship. We are told that this fluid, creative and powerful relationship between God, Incarnate man and the Spirit that exists in all things is the substance of every aspect of our lives. We are relational beings. We are herd animals, not meant to live in isolation, which is why solitary confinement is seen as such a terrible punishment. Even the early hermits, the desert fathers and mothers had other hermits to be in relationship with.
We are also in relationship with people, animals, the dirt of the earth, the stars in the sky and everything we see. We do not exist in isolation. That Divine spark which created all of us, is in all of creation. As we move through life, we interact with God or that Divine Spark in all that we do. Every breath we take, every bite of food we eat, every step we take, every chair we sit on etc, and I could go on infinately because there is no place to be without God being there with us. But how do we remember this?
How do we become aware of this in our lives? Thich Nhat Hahn, the well known Vietnamese Buddhist Monk gives us the concept of Mindfulness bells. He tells us that in Buddhist tradition the bell is a reminder to stop, breathe and become deeply aware of the present moment. What can we use as reminders in our daily lives to stop and consider what the present moment is mirroring for us? Even if we can not decipher it with our thinking, our body will know and file it for us to utilize when necessary. The flow continues whether we are aware of it or not and it is part of us.
Both at Pentecost and in todays celebration of the Trinity; Father/Mother God, Son and Holy Spirit; the message is the same. And that message may be that Jesus was talking to and teaching global truths to all. The message was not only for those select few, but for all people, everywhere and in all times. Love your neighbor and love persons from further away who may not be like you. Do not discriminate or hold onto the knowledge that was given because ALL people are worthy of it and all people possess that Divine Spark within themselves. We are born with it. We can not escape it. It doesn’t disappear if we make a mistake or do something that is considered “wrong”. It doesn’t disappear if our marriage fails or we end a pregnancy, don’t make it to church, or break the rules of society.
How then, do we utilize this relationship? How do we understand this inclusivity ordained by God, demonstrated by Jesus and living within us as a flowing energy of Spirit? We then are also mirrors for others of this gift. We remind others and are reminded by all of creation that we are all important parts of this in-exhaustive whole. We are mirrors of self forgiveness and grace. God does not forgive since God never had an issue with us in the first place. Forgiveness comes when one feels wronged. God does not feel wronged by us and loves us even when we need to forgive ourselves. God gave us each other to teach us to love ourselves and for us to offer that gift to others. God gave us creation to nurture us. How many times when we feel we have no human connection can we find solace in a sunset or wet puppy kisses? How often do we wonder at a flower or the power of the ocean. All is there for US! Each one of us!
This relationship continues to flow. The fire of Pentecost runs through our bodies. We become recipient and giver of the gifts of God. We are God, the Creator, God the Sanctifier, and God the Redeemer for all of creation!
by Rev. Karuna Duval
Unity in Lynnwood
Get comfortable, close your eyes if you wish. Please take three breaths. With each breath you relax a little more.
I invite you to see yourself in a place of peace, serenity and warmth. This could be a forest, a garden or the beach. This place you are safe. This place you are free. As you walk in this place you are aware it is bright and warm. Let all your senses take in this place.
As you walk you come upon an old statue of a female deity, a Goddess. Her face is old and dark with time, the lines on her body worn from the touch of hands. She is simply the Mother, god as woman, the one to whom the world turns. She is Sofia, Kwan Yin, Mary, Sarah, Hagar, Fatima, White Buffalo Woman, Isis, Sita, Innanna, and Demeter. She is all the feminine faces of God, but she is more than that. She is the Divine Mother of life itself.
You find yourself sitting before her. She then comes to life. She approaches and you see the face of the ancient Divine mother become animated with feeling. Seated before her you gaze into each other's eyes. She penetrates your soul with a glance that loves you to the core of your very being. Emotions of sweetness, mercy, and loving forgiveness emanate from her, sweeping over you in waves of bliss, healing all the parts of you that are hurt, broken, and wounded. She reaches to hold you in her arms, and you are tenderly embraced. Taken onto her lap, you become like a child with its mother. You touch her hair, her face in loving affection, and feel her loving affection for you in return. You feel enveloped by unconditional love, deep peace, and you completely soften and surrender to her.
You begin to feel as if the body of the Divine mother is the gateway to the body of creation itself.... Going beyond her form, you enter into a communion with the body of the earth -- all her creatures, trees, oceans, rivers, mountains, cities, and people.... Going beyond the earth, you feel the body of the Divine mother expand into space, becoming the stars and the planets and the whirling galaxies that are spread over the universe like a mantle of bright jewels....
Held in this mystery you feel a powerful force....a Holy energy, .... the breath of all life.... the soul of the cosmos. You feel your heart beat in rhythm with the rhythm of all life itself.
As you return to yourself, still in her embrace, the Divine Mother looks at you tenderly and smiles.... without words, you both know the communion of this time is coming to an end.... She kisses you and gently releases you. She steps back and becomes the statue again. Sitting before her now in this place of warmth and peace, you continue to feel deeply the connections, awareness and gifts she has given you....
You know these gifts are always with....
You know she is always with you....
You know she IS you.
Take a breath and bring your awareness to your body.....
Take another breath and bring awareness to this sanctuary.....
Take another breath and slowly open your eyes.