Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.
Good morning and blessings indeed on this Sunday after the Feast of Pentecost, Trinity Sunday. This a day on the Christian calendar, always in late May or early June, that I like to think of as a kind of bookend, along with the First Advent Sunday at the end of November down at the other end of the row—the two marking the boundaries of the rich cycle of seasons and days from Advent and Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Ascension, Whitsunday, all marking the great course of Biblical narrative and Christian identity. After today the door to summer swings open and on the calendar we simply begin counting Sundays until next Advent, next week the Second Sunday after Pentecost, before you know it the Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost, and on and on. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters simply call them all “Sundays in Ordinary Time.”
Nothing “ordinary” about Trinity Sunday, though. This is very often, and is this year, the last Sunday of our Parish Choir’s spring season, and now heading off into a bit of a summer interval, but even if that weren’t the case, and even if we weren’t this morning also celebrating and giving thanks for the ministry of our good friend Dr. Oye Dosunmu as he leaves our choir ranks to fly off to Massachusetts and to a new life on the music faculty at Williams College—even if all that weren’t the case, we would have all the stops out today for Trinity Sunday. And again that great vision of the Prophet Isaiah, Cherubim and Seraphim and all the company of heaven, angelic multitudes gathered in the Temple at the Great Throne of God Almighty, the whole earth shaking and the skies thundering in awe and wonder, “Holy, holy, holy Lord. Heaven and earth are full of the majesty of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high.”
This is a day, a turning point, a summing-up, that brings together the two great themes of our life and mission as Church, pedagogical and doxological. A kind of awkward rhyme, playing with words, but perhaps helpful. Pedagogy, as we by this word Trinity and as we unpack it through a careful study and reflection of God’s Word in Holy Scripture as that Word has been read and understood and communicated by prophets and apostles, theologians and saints in every corner of the wide world and over these two thousand years. Pedagogy is what we teach, what it means to be a Christian, in faithful obedience to the command of Jesus at the end of St. Matthew’s Gospel, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” And so from generation to generation in the Church and from the Church to the world.
And our doxology, our word of praise, our worship. The hymns we sing and the prayers we offer in Church on Sunday, of course, but even more, that this doxology, that this word of praise, is not just something we do but a way of describing what we are, who we are. As you may recall one of my favorite statements borrowed from our Presbyterian friends and the Westminster Confession, but to the heart of our identity and purpose and proclamation, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” That our every breath and our every action would have us gathered up into Isaiah’s angelic throng. Holy, holy, holy.
To know the Father in every moment of our lives, waking and sleeping, Creator and Preserver of All Things. To know so deeply and so personally His only Son, Jesus our friend, Son of Mary, Master, Teacher, very God of very God, begotten of the Father before all Worlds, God from God, Light from Light. Word made flesh. To receive the gift of the Spirit, Advocate, Comforter, Proceeding from the Father and the Son. Judge and Guide, Teacher of Truth, Wind in our Sails, Bringing Birth from Above.
One God in Trinity of Persons, perfectly stable and inwardly dynamic, still and in motion, giving and receiving in perfect love, and perfect unity. The God who separated the night from the day, the sea from the land, who speaks and reveals himself and his will in the word of Holy Scripture, who called Abraham and chose David and who inspired the prophets, who walked in the villages of the Galilee, who gave himself on the Cross, who is seated on the Great Throne as Eternal Ruler of Heaven and Earth, who came down upon the church like fire on Pentecost Sunday, who reveals himself to us in friend and stranger, Who knocks at the door of our hearts, that we might open the door, that he might dwell in us and we in him.
We might enjoy marching in a procession behind a St. Andrew banner, and we lift high the Cross in our great ceremonial entrances, but it is the fullness of the Trinity that we would lift up always and completely as the emblem of our Christian faith and life, at the head of the vast parade, across the continents and the centuries.
And as we share the news, open the word, breathing in and breathing out, what is pedagogical becomes at the same time for us truly doxological. To glorify God and enjoy him forever. All about worship, adoration, praise. The heart of Trinity Sunday and the door that swings open to the whole of life that we share as Christian people, the heart and meaning and experience of this Holy Communion, as we would know the one whose very name as the Angel promised is to be Emmanuel, God with us. There is the wonderful 19th century American hymn: “What tho' my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Saviour liveth; What tho' the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm While to that refuge clinging; Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, How can I keep from singing?”
Couples used to get up from the table as the band began to play. “They're playing our song.” And so this morning, as certainly I know we all felt it as we joined the great affirmation and creed and anthem of the Breastplate of St. Patrick. They're playing our song: “I bind unto myself the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity, by invocation of the same, the Three in One, and One in Three. Of whom all nature hath creation, eternal Father, Spirit, Word: praise to the Lord of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord.”
How can I keep from singing?