Bishop Ordinary: Rt Rev Brian R Marsh

Sermon

Trinity Sunday, 2011
Good Shepherd, Charlestown; Trinity Church, West Lebanon

Let us pray: Grant, we beseech thee, merciful God, that thy Church, being gathered together in unity by thy Holy Spirit, may manifest thy power among all peoples, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

 

There are wonderful events that happen in our world, wonderful connections that seem absolutely accidental. Some events seem so improbable that they couldn't possibly happen by any design. The high school students I once taught often used the phrase "that's so random" to describe anything that was out of place or impossible to understand. Any unfocused individual would be referred to as a random individual, as in: "he's so random." With such people, the dots just didn't seem to connect; at least for the students who evaluated them.

 

Today is Father's Day. It is also Trinity Sunday. Today's gospel brings us face to face with Nicodemus, the great Pharisee of St. John's gospel. Father's Day and Trinity Sunday. Together. How often does that happen? Well, very rarely. It's all pretty random. And then there is Nicodemus, a real man's man. He sought out Jesus in the middle of the night when no one would likely see him. After all, Nicodemus needed to keep up appearances. He couldn't be seen with some ragged preacher, some itinerant healer who seemed to have some connection to heavenly things. And so, he went to Jesus. Without his band of followers. Without fanfare. But with a great purpose in mind. He had serious question to ask. These questions troubled him. They gave him sleepless nights. There were no ready answers. He needed to go to the source.

 

Nicodemus stood in front of God; he asked his questions. "How," he wondered aloud to Jesus, "how can you do the things you do? No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him." Nicodemus got it absolutely right. He thought this Jesus was a pretty random guy. The things he did just didn't add up. Jesus does things only God can do. But He's Jesus. It doesn't add up for Nicodemus. Nicodemus couldn't make the connection. He didn't get it when God told him about being born again of water and the Spirit. He didn't get it when Jesus spelled out the difference between the world of the flesh and the world of the spirit. For Nicodemus, any connection between the world of the flesh and the world of the spirit would have been truly random indeed. The proof of all that was standing right in front of him – Jesus, God incarnate, perfect man, perfectly divine. "Explain your randomness," we might imagine him shouting out to God. But God had already done so.

 

God told him things that were important to his salvation. Nicodemus asked God questions. God answered truthfully. But Nicodemus didn't get it. We'd all have to agree: Nicodemus himself was pretty random. But we have all known random people. At certain times, our own fathers seemed, lets face it, pretty random.

 

But this connection of events, Fathers Day, Trinity Sunday and the presence of Nicodemus in our gospel message in no accident.

 

This is God's world. There is a connection to all things. And particularly, on this day, to all three.

 

Today, we recognize and honor our fathers. If we are fathers, children will make phone calls and send cards. Some will forget. There are those who will send quiet reminders to "call your father." And they will do so. They will acknowledge a relationship that is important to who they are.

 

A father has a particular ministry. It is a faithful ministry over time. There is so much that is done by parents behind the scenes. Yes, there are the big events in the life of children that are always remembered. But, more often, the things that children will remember are the simpler yet more profound moments that speak of a love that can only be hinted at until it is fully revealed.

 

Perhaps it happens in the dead of night when all is quiet; when there is no one about who will see or know when a journey is made to the only person who can answer the great riddle that troubles the mind of a child. And the answer that is given is not an easy one. But it is a necessary one, wise in experience and designed to lead the heart into a greater understanding of what is – and what can be.

 

Nicodemus, a man wise in the ways of the world, came to his God and asked the questions a child might ask. These riddles have troubled my mind, he said to Jesus. And Jesus, the Father of all, taught him patiently, explaining things that he could not possibly know until he became mature in the spirit.

 

It is Trinity Sunday. And on this day, we wonder about the great mysteries of our faith. The Trinity, we ask ourselves: "what is this great expression of God?" We repeat the words daily, we take the expression into our minds and our hearts. But what is it?

 

God stands in front of us and we ask Him: "How can these things be?" And God says to us: "be born again of the spirit, so that you know that I have created you in love, redeemed you in love and wish only for you to reach out to me in love."

 

There is no separation in the three parts of the Trinity. Rather, it is expressed in love poured out to the other in an endless stream.

 

Nicodemus returned to his home late at night. He may have been puzzled by what he had heard, but he somehow knew that what had been said to him was said in love. And in later years, we may imagine that he remembered with gratitude and deep feeling the quiet moments he spent with the Father of all creation. And the moment he was born into the spirit.

 

 

Let us pray: Send, we beseech thee, Almighty God, thy Holy Spirit into our hearts, that he may direct and rule us according to thy will, comfort us in all our afflictions, defend us from all error, and lead us into all truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with thee and the same Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, world without end. Amen.