Trinity Sunday, 2022

Tags: service sermon

Fr Peter Beck presided and preached for our celebration of Trinity Sunday. Our readings were taken from Proverbs 8:1–4, 22–31, Romans 5:1–5, and John 16:12–15.

Read on for the sermon and a video of the service.

Service Video


The Trinity and Pooh

When we had the Covid lockdown a couple of years ago now. Do you remember that many people put bears in their windows. It was a lovely gesture. Just over our fence lived Spencer who was five, so we had a bear out of course and most afternoons I would read him a story over the fence. What you may not know is that unlike many preachers I really look forward to Trinity Sunday. It is the Queen of Festivals. The reason I look forward to it is because over the years I see the connection between Trinity and Winnie the Pooh.

There is a poignant piece at the end of AA Milne’s book ‘the House at Pooh Corner’ where Christopher Robin is beginning to, as we say, ‘grow up. And soon he will be going to school. It is a time of transition and change. He takes Pooh off for a walk to an enchanted place at the top of the forest:

‘What do you like doing best in the world Pooh?’
‘Well’, said Pooh,’ what I like best-‘and then he had to stop and think. Because although eating honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called. And then he thought that being with Christopher Robin was a very good thing to do, and having Piglet near was a very friendly thing to have; and so, when he had thought it all out, he said, ‘What I like best in the whole world is Me and Piglet going to see You, and You saying ‘what about a little something?’ and Me saying, ‘well I shouldn’t mind a little something, should you, Piglet?’ and it being a hummy sort of day outside, and birds singing.’
‘I like that too,’ said CR, ‘but what I like doing best is Nothing.’
‘How do you do Nothing?’ asked Pooh
‘well it’s when people call out at you just as you’re going off to do it, ‘what are you doing CR?’ and you say ‘Oh nothing.’ And then you go and do it.’
‘Oh, I see', said Pooh
'this is a nothing sort of thing we’re doing now.’
‘Oh I see’, said Pooh
Then suddenly CR called out ‘Pooh’
‘Yes?’ said Pooh.
‘When I’m – when- Pooh!’
‘Yes, CR?’
‘I’m not going to do nothing anymore.’
‘Never again?’
‘Well not so much. They don’t let you.’
Pooh waited for him to go on, but he was silent again,
‘Yes, CR?’ said Pooh helpfully.
‘Pooh, when I’m-you know-when I’m not doing Nothing, will you come up here sometimes?’
‘Just me?’
‘Yes Pooh’
‘Will you be here too?’
‘Yes Pooh, I will be really. I promise I will be Pooh.’
‘That’s good’, said Pooh
‘Pooh promise you won’t forget about me, ever. Not even when I’m a hundred.’
Pooh thought for a little.
‘How old will I be then?’
‘Ninety nine’
Pooh nodded.
‘I promise,’ Then with his eyes on the world, CR put out a hand and felt for Pooh’s paw.
‘Pooh,’ he said earnestly, ‘if I – if I’m not quite’ –he stopped and tried again –‘Pooh, whatever happens, you will understand won’t you?’
‘Understand what?’
‘Oh nothing.’ He laughed and jumped to his feet. ‘Come on!’
‘Where?’ said Pooh.
‘Anywhere’ said CR
So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of a forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing
[From the House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne from page 309, 314, 315]

To all of us who still have our bears, I’m sure you will know something of the importance of the relationship we had with them when we were children. All the bears that appeared in house windows during the lock down. We all know what that was about. My son, who is now 45, has a little stuffed dog called Sam aged 44, whom we used to look after while he was working overseas. From time to time when he rang us he wanted to be re assured that Sam was in good health and being well looked after.

What has all this to do with Trinity Sunday? Well to my mind this great feast of the Church, is all about relationships. The ancient Greek Fathers depict the Trinity as a Circle Dance of Creator, Christ and Spirit, a to and fro expression of love energy, dynamic, generative, an infinity of trust and mutuality. The Rublev icon in its many themes has at the heart this concept of the mutuality of love. We humans, made as we believe in the image of God, made in love and for love, exist only in terms of relationships. Love cannot love unless it is expressed and experienced within relationships. And it is the quality and value of our relationships that is part of our expression, experience and yearning for life. The Trinity is the expression of all that true and mutual relationship can be

The Genesis story at the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures catches this truth as God creates out of the darkness and the void – relationship, light, being. Out of the void God creates that which forms relationship with God. ‘In the beginning was the Word’, we hear in John’s Gospel, the Word which is Christ from the very beginning. In the book of Proverbs there is this lovely passage where the Word, the wisdom of God, is personified [in the female gender I might add] and we hear this lovely verse

‘Here I was at his side each day, his darling and delight, playing in his presence continually, playing on the earth, when he had finished it, while my delight was in humanity’.

Yes here is holy wisdom, Sophia, the spirit of god, the ruach, the breath of god – dancing amongst, between and alongside God and God’s creation. Here is Trinity – God the creator in relationship with God’s creation and the delight and love, and breath of life which ignites and offers more than one and one. The creator, the creature, and the energizer which brings the promise of more –that is - 1 and 1 make 3!

This is not Trinity in the traditional understanding of Father Son and Holy Spirit in some sort of hierarchical relationship which justified the imbalance and power-over structures with in societies. Not this but rather a mutuality of relationships, the dynamic and dance of interpersonal relationships, where there is not simply me and you, me and this chair, me and this mountain, this ocean, me and my relationship with my own inner world, me and my bear, but a third element, the breath of God – God’s life, love, spirit, empowering and enabling each member of the relationship to be all that it can be. So always there is the possibility of more.

In Trinity in the dynamic of our relationships we live out the Jesus story for ourselves, or rather we live out our own stories. The story of Jesus speaks to my story, my pain, my passion, my hope, my tenderness, my yearning, my loving, my delight, my hope. Created out of love and for love our deepest yearning is to experience the fullness of what it means to be fully alive in our unique humanity, In other words to know and experience love. I believe this is so for every human being, indeed for the whole of Creation. And Jesus is the exemplar of what such abundant life and love looks like.

When we approach every experience of our daily lives with this faith and understanding, how our priorities can change. When I allow myself to connect heart, mind and body to the experiences of those around me, and the world in which I am set, I experience God, the energy and the risk of abundant life. As Mother Julian encourages us to: ‘put your mind into your heart and stand in the presence of God all day.’

It can be happiness and delight. And it can also be the pain of responsibility, of hearing and responding to the cries of the poor and the oppressed. It can lead me to a cross. This is abundant life and it is intoxicating, it is life, it is the dynamic movement of God in all our relationships. And it is this energy which I believe will drive and inspire all of you people of St Michael’s as you engage in the consultation process as you plan for the appointment of a new vicar.

It is delicate, divine, and delightful and it can be as tender as a little boy’s love for his bear. CR knows it is time to move on, to grow into a bigger boy, to let the security and innocence of his early childhood go and begin the journey to adulthood – going to school. Jesus took the children in his arms and said – unless you are like these little ones, you can never enter the kingdom of God. Unless somewhere in us we touch and are touched by the child-like qualities of trusting relationships, then we cannot experience fullness of life, of Trinity, of God.

So today on Trinity Sunday I remind you of a little boy on the edge of growing up and his bear. In every relationship there is always a Trinity possibility of breaking through to a deeper experience of what it means to be human living in Love.

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