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?