notre dame montreal


Trinity Sunday

Sermon on the Trinity

The Reverend Canon Charles Royden 22 May 2016

It is a time when we think about God and how God has revealed himself, or perhaps herself.

Philosopher and a Priest had a discussion and the philosopher told the priest that he did not believe in a creator God but that the world instead came into being through natural means and without any divine intervention. The Priest went and brought from his study a beautiful painting. The Philosopher asked who had painted it. The priest said his cat had knocked some paint of a shelf and the paint had just fallen onto the paper like that. The Philosopher looked bemused whilst the priest explained that just as it would impossible for paint to simply fall into a picture, so he found it impossible to believe that the world which is so much more wondrous and beautiful could have come into being by itself. I can understand this

Many of you will know that one of my favourite places in the world is Scotland and each year we try and get to spend some days in Aviemore, walking the dog and fishing amongst some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The beauty of the scenery, fishing in the shadow of the Cairngorm is all quite marvellous. If I am lucky I will see the Osprey. These magnificent birds travel to Africa and come back each year. How they mange to do that I do not One crucial factor is daylight length: here in Scotland we have nearly 22 hours of daylight in summer breeding season which means a lot more time to fish and support a family. If an osprey stayed in West Africa to breed, it would have only the same 12 hours of daylight all year and more predators to deal with too. (Senegal)

The Osprey, the Cairngorm mountains which before they were formed were once part of a huge mountain range 400 million years ago stretching from North America to Norway long before the dinosaurs,
The granite formed from molten mass from deep within the earth over 400 million years ago fashioned in the ice age 2.6 million years ago

When we consider the world with its incredible creations and ponder its vast unknown and unknowable parts how can we not join the psalmist and say,
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Psalm 19

When we look beyond the beauty of this world and look heavenward we are even more challenged
Psalm 8 begins and ends with the same phrase,
“O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth,”
You may know that Psalm 8 was the first Biblical text to reach the moon.  It went up on Apollo 11 on a disc that had messages from seventy-three countries.  The Vatican submitted a text and included Psalm 8. 

The Psalm is about the majesty of God and our praise of him.  

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens. Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies,  to silence the foe and the avenger.  When I consider your heavens,  the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them,  human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honour. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Buzz Aldrin was the second man to set foot on the lunar surface, on the return flight from the moon, put everything in a Biblical perspective. He quoted Psalm 8:3,4,
“When I consider Your heavens, the works of Your fingers, the moon and stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visited him?”

“Buzz” Aldrin understood Who controlled the universe and what our place was in that universe.

I cannot begin to understand how big space is. I am told that it is so big that light from some parts of it will never reach earth in my lifetime.

So who knows what is out there? How many other kinds of creatures might exist.
It is in the hymn about how many other worldw

Some interesting things have happened in space
On December 24, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8 read in turn from the Book of Genesis as they orbited the moon. Bill Anders,Jim Lovell, and Frank Borman recited verses 1 10,

This was to the anger of some a legal suit was taken out against Nasa by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair because the astronauts had practiced their religion on duty. I believe it was thrown out because the judge said it happened outside of his jurisdiction !

When Apollo 11 went up before Armstrong and Aldrin stepped out of the lunar module on July 20, 1969, Aldrin unstowed a small plastic container of wine and some bread onto a computer table. He had brought them to the moon from Webster Presbyterian church near Houston, where he was an elder. Aldrin had received permission from the Presbyterian church's general assembly to administer it to himself. In his book Magnificent Desolation he shares the message he then radioed to Nasa:

"I would like to request a few moments of silence … and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way."
He then recited—silently, as NASA had requested — John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches…. Without me you can do nothing."

He then ate and drank the elements. The surreal ceremony is described in an article by Aldrin in a 1970 copy of Guideposts magazine:

"I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements."

The story of the secret communion service only emerged after the mission. Aldrin had originally planned to share the event with the world over the radio. , resulting in the ceremony never being broadcast.

In Magnificent Desolation, Aldrin explains how astronaut Deke Slayton, who ran the Apollo 11 flight crew operations, told him to tone down his lunar communiqué.

"Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general," he advised.

Looking back Aldrin writes that the communion was his way of thanking God for the success of the mission.

At Webster Presbyterian church Aldrin's communion service is still celebrated every July, known as Lunar Communion Sunday. They replay the tape of Aldrin on the moon and recite Psalm eight, which he had quoted on his return trip to Earth ("… what is man that thou art mindful of him"). The church still holds the chalice that Aldrin brought back with him.

The psalmist can see that God is truly majestic when he says,
"Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth, who has set your glory above the heavens!" (Psalm 8:1).

He looks at the stars and the moon, and these days we could go further and add the galaxies and planets of the universe, and he can only conclude that these must be the work of a great God.
Maybe you have done the same. You looked at the magnificent colours of a sunset, the intricate structure of a beautiful flower, the mountains, and you have said,
"There, that's proof that there is a God. Anyone who wants to see evidence of God's existence doesn't need to look any further."

The prophet Isaiah talks about the mystery of God when he says,

"'To whom then will you liken me? Who is my equal?' says the Holy One.... His understanding is unsearchable" (Isaiah 40:25a, 28).

There's a song we sing or say at every Eucharist. It's called the Sanctus from the first word of the Latin version which means Holy . Here's how it goes:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

It has echoes from Isaiah in which God is high and lifted up, beyond us, beyond our understanding

But of course this is all Old Testament stuff. The truth is that we do know a lot more about God. God is not only high lifted up, 'Holy Holy Holy', God is also a God who has walked in our shoes. He is more than the God of nature. There is another side to God other than his greatness and awesomeness. He has revealed himself as a God who cares, a personal God who wants to have a relationship with his people.
When we ask the question, "Who died on the cross?" we answer "God died on the cross!" He did the unthinkable – he allowed himself to fall into the hands of sinful people, be treated cruelly, laughed at, and then nailed to a cross. We say that in theory this is not possible. God who is majestic and awesome cannot do this. But he did. This is part of the mystery of God.

Last week we celebrated Pentecost – the pouring of the Holy Spirit on his disciples and the church. Jesus said that he and the Father would send the Spirit to remind us of the truth of God's promises, to guide us, to encourage us and sustain us when the going gets tough. There is nothing more personal than the Spirit of God.

The doctrine of the trinity does not explain God, or unravel the mystery of God, it simply describes the mystery of the fact that God is at least all these things.

Who is God? He is our heavenly Father who made us, takes cares of us and calls us his dear children.
Who is God? He is Jesus gave his life on the cross and reveals to us that God loves his creation with an unending love
Who is God? God is the Spirit in you giving you faith in God and guiding you in your daily walk as a Christian.

On this Sunday festival of the Holy Trinity.
We confess as Christians that we believe in one God in three persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The very nature of God is relationship both within the Godhead and with the world.
God did not need to create the world but did so. God did not need to create humanity in the image of God, but wanted to.

"Then god said, 'let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air
and over the cattle and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon earth. So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them, male and female, he created them."

We are created out of relationship and for relationship - just as we create children ourselves.

God said "Let us make Adam in our image." And the word Adam comes from the word Adamah ––the ground. Adam is a man made from mud. We are created on the same day as the beasts of the field and the creeping
things––we are part of the earth––but we are also created in the very image of the Triune God.

The Gospel lesson for this Sunday tells of the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching in the Triune Name. No one is excluded from God's good news because all have been created by God and redeemed by the Son of God. All are welcome into the Kingdom of God. Look at the animals and birds, the fish and the creeping things––all are part of God's good creation. Every woman and man and child of whatever race or color, creed or background, orientation or ability or talent is made by God and welcome to follow the Lord. Fyodor Dostoevsky once wrote,

"Love all God's creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love."