Trinity Sunday

Sermon Title: TRINITY SUNDAY:  June 2017
Date: 11th June 2017
Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers
Church Date: Trinity Sunday
Lectionary Reading: Exodus 34:1-8, Song of 3YM ( APBA p399), 2 Corinthians 13:11-13, Matthew 28:16-20
“I choose to stand in the light”. I heard Alan Cumming say this the other morning on the ABC breakfast show. Alan is the Scottish-American actor, singer/performer/author and activist.  He spoke of his early life of abuse and he said he decided not to stay in the negative, dark side of life but instead he chose to stand in the light.

His words, “I choose to stand in the light”, really caught my attention.

We live in the midst of a world marked by fear, hatred and violence, and in our own lives we experience inner and outer fears and anxieties.

Can we choose to stand in the light?

I have read many commentaries this past week on The Trinity and every single one has their own ‘take’ on what it means for them.   Back in 1987 I bought a book by Henri Nouwen called ‘Behold the Beauty of the Lord: praying with icons.’  It’s a beautiful reflection on four icons, one being The Holy Trinity.  More recent theologians like Richard Rohr have written on The Trinity in a book called ‘The Divine Dance’. Both Nouwen and Rohr have chosen a particular icon of The Trinity to focus on and that is of the one written by Andrei Rublev in 15th century.

Many people over the centuries have written, prayed and reflected on the Trinity and although it is one of the Doctrines of the church, it needs to come alive for us if it is to be helpful to us in our daily lives.

In other words, for it to help us say ‘I choose to stand in the light’.

Here is The Trinity, the icon by Rublev.

I’d like to read to you a part of an explanation of the meaning of the Trinity icon I found on the internet.  As I said there are many explanations and I offer this one as it touched me.

Explanation of Andrei Rublev’s Icon of The Trinity

Link to additional explanation

Rublev’s “The Trinity”

Explanation of the meaning on the Trinity Icon.

This icon takes as its subject the mysterious story where Abraham receives three visitors as he camps by the oak of Mamre. He serves them a meal. As the conversation progresses he seems to be talking straight to God, as if these ‘angels’ were in some way a metaphor for the three persons of the Trinity. In Rublev’s representation of the scene, the three gold-winged figures are seated around a white table on which a golden, chalice-like bowl contains a roasted lamb. In the background of the picture, a house can be seen at the top left and a tree in the center. Less distinctly, a rocky hill lies in the upper right corner. The composition is a great circle around the table, focusing the attention on the chalice-bowl at the center, which reminds the viewer inescapably of an altar at Communion.

On one level this picture shows three angels seated under Abraham’s tree, but on another it is a visual expression of what the Trinity means, what is the nature of God, and how we approach him. Reading the picture from left to right, we see the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

The Colors

Rublev gives each person of the Trinity different clothing. On the right, the Holy Spirit has a garment of the clear blue of the sky, wrapped over with a robe of a fragile green. So the Spirit of creation moves in sky and water, breathes in heaven and earth. All living things owe their freshness to the Holy Spirit’s [his] touch.

The Son has the deepest colors; a thick heavy garment of the reddish-brown of earth and a cloak of the blue of heaven. In his person he unites heaven and earth, the two natures are present in him…

The Father seems to wear all the colors in a kind of fabric that changes with the light, that seems transparent, that cannot be described or confined in words. And this is how it should be. No one has seen the Father, but the vision of him fills the universe.

The wings of the angels or persons are gold. Their seats are gold. The chalice in the center is gold, and the roof of the house.

The light that shines around their heads is white, pure light. Gold is not enough to express the glory of God. Only light will do, and that same white becomes the holy table, the place of offering. God is revealed and disclosed here, at the heart, in the whiteness of untouchable light.

The Father looks forward, raising his hand in blessing to the Son. It is impossible to tell whether he looks up at the Son or down to the chalice on the table, but his gesture expresses a movement towards the Son. This is my Son, listen to him… (remember that was said at the Transfiguration). The hand of the Son points on, around the circle, to the Spirit. In this simple array we see the movement of life towards us,     The Father sends the Son, the Son sends the Spirit. The life flows clockwise around the circle. And we complete the circle. As the Father sends the Son, as the Son sends the Holy Spirit, so we are invited and sent to complete the circle of the Godhead with our response. And we respond to the movement of the Spirit who points us to Jesus. And he shows us the Father in whom all things come to fruition. This is the counter-clockwise movement of our lives, in response to the movement of God. And along the way are the three signs at the top of the picture, the hill, the tree, and the house.

The Spirit touches us, even though we do not know who it is that is touching us. The Spirit [He] leads us by ways we may not be aware of, up the hill of prayer. It may be steep and rocky, but the journeying God goes before us along the path. It leads to Jesus, the Son of God, and it leads to a tree. A great tree in the heat of the day spreads its shade. It is a place of security, a place of peace, a place where we begin to find out the possibilities of who we can be. It is no ordinary tree. It stands above the Son in the picture, and stands above the altar-table where the lamb lies within the chalice. Because of the sacrifice this tree grows. The tree of death has been transformed into a tree of life for us.

The tree is on the way to the house. Over the head of the Father is the house of the Father. It is the goal of our journey. It is the beginning and end of our lives. Its roof is golden. Its door is always open for the traveler. It has a tower, and its window is always open so that the Father can incessantly scan the roads for a glimpse of a returning prodigal.

The Table

The table or altar lies at the center of the picture. It is at once the place of Abraham’s hospitality to the angels, and God’s place of hospitality to us. That ambiguity lies at the heart of communion, at the heart of worship. As soon as we open a sacred place for God to enter, for God to be welcomed and adored, it becomes his place. It is we who are welcomed, it is we who must ‘take off our shoes’ because of the holiness of the ground.

Contained in the center of the circle, a sign of death. The lamb, killed. The holy meal brought to the table. All points to this space, this mystery: within it, everything about God is summed up and expressed, his power, his glory, and above all his love. And it is expressed in such a way that we can reach it. For the space at this table is on our side. We are invited to join the group at the table and receive the heart of their being for ourselves.

We are invited to complete the circle, to join the dance, to complete the movements of God in the world by our own response. Below the altar a rectangle marks the holy place where the relics of the martyrs were kept in a church. It lies before us. It invites us to come into the depth and intimacy of all that is represented here. Come follow the Spirit up the hill of prayer. Come, live in the shadow of the Son of God, rest yourself beneath his tree of life. Come, journey to the home, prepared for you in the house of your Father.

The table is spread, the door is open. Come.

(End of Explanation of Andrei Rublev’s Icon)

In a moment I will be baptising Isabella with water and with the words, ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’.  Isabella like all of us will be on a journey within the Christian faith. She will wrestle with life.  She will be challenged to decide again and again, whether to live in the dark or to choose to stand in the light.

What about each of us?

Do you think it will make a difference if we remember that we are invited to be a part of this Trinity… this divine dance… this community of love?

If you believe this will make a difference, how will we be with each other if we believe this?

How will we act toward each other if we believe God is with us?

How will we speak about each other if we believe God is among us?

We can be daunted by the happenings in our world and we wonder when we will ever learn to live together in peace.

It must start with each of us in how we live our lives.

Let us pray together the Prayer of the Day from the front of the pew sheet.

Trinity of love,

Deposing the powers of hate and isolation;

Gathering creation in bonds of mutual care:

Through the waters of baptism may our relatedness be reborn in justice, mercy and peace;

Through Jesus Christ, who is with us always. Amen.

Prayers for an Inclusive Church: Steven Shakespeare


The Lord be with you.