Sermon by Pastor Paul Olson
Festival of the Holy Trinity
June 15-16, 2019
In her book Circle of Quiet, Madeleine L’Engle repeats Dorothy Sayers’ story of a Japanese man who’s politely listening to a Christian trying to explain the concept of the Trinity. The Japanese man is very puzzled. “Honorable Father, very good. Honorable Son, very good. Honorable Bird, I do not understand at all.”
L’Engle observes: "Very few of us understand Honorable Bird, except to acknowledge that without his power and grace nothing would be written, painted, or composed at all. To say anything beyond this about the creative process is like pulling all the petals off a flower in order to analyze it, and ending up having destroyed the flower."
So writes Madeline L’Engle.
This weekend in our liturgical calendar, we celebrate the Festival of the Holy Trinity. This is one of those times when the preacher has to be careful not to pull all the petals off the flower while attempting to analyze it. Some things are easier said than done.
After all, this is the only festival day that deals with a doctrine. It’s the only festival day that doesn’t celebrate a person—such as St. Matthew or St. Mark—or an event—such as Christmas, Easter, or Pentecost—in the whole church year. No wonder preachers so often get lost in the weeds on this unique day. This is one of those times that reminds us that “some things just have to be believed to be seen.”
But the reality is that the big difference between this Festival and the rest of the year is that on this day we focus on God’s being rather than on God’s doing. We focus on who God is rather than on what God has done.
So what difference does this teaching make to people who wake up each morning, go to work, try to balance their checkbooks and their lives, and take care of home and family? A little history may help, for this is no new issue. It has been the source of bitter name calling through the ages. It has been said that the devil is in the details, but the fact is that truth is frequently found or lost in the details. Everything from baking a cake to launching a space shuttle is dependent upon the details.