God in the Particulars

Preached at 31 May 2015 at St. Luke’s Memorial Episcopal Church
Trinity Sunday, Year B

In the year that King Uzziah, a good king of Israel, in the year that he died, the prophet Isaiah saw the Lord.

That morning when I sat in front of the TV and watched the twin towers crumple to the ground, I prayed, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth.”  And for the first time, I really meant it.

The night when my first baby was born and I held her in my arms, I thought my heart would burst.  I never  knew I could love someone so much.  And at last I had an idea of just how much my mother loved me.

The day you heard that President Kennedy had been shot…

The moment when you first kissed the man who would one day be your husband; the woman who would one day be your wife….

In the year that she was being treated for cancer…

In the year he went away to college…

The week he heard, your unit is being deployed to Afghanistan.  Again….

The moment she heard, we’re shipping out – you’re going home….

That time when they were lying on the grass, holding hands, watching the clouds against the clear blue of the sky and sharing their dreams….

God is Mystery, Other, beyond our knowing.
Yet God wants to be known and reveals God’s self in the particulars of our lives.  We know God not through doctrine, but through story; and most profoundly through the unique ways God comes to us in our own lives.

In the darkness of night, Nicodemus goes to visit Jesus – a particular time and place; a particular expression of God, incarnate in Jesus.  Nicodemus goes in with some knowledge of and some experience of God.  He knows enough to recognize that Jesus is from God.  And then Jesus reveals a whole new idea that utterly confounds him – being born again from above; being born of water and the Spirit.  How could that be?

We don’t necessarily understand what is revealed right away.  And sometimes what is revealed is the mystery.  Sometimes, we don’t recognize God until long afterwards.

The Trinity is one of the ways in which God chooses to make God’s self known to us.  Each is a unique expression of God.  Jesus, the Incarnate One.  The Holy Spirit the One with us and within us now; who goes ahead of us leading us, pulling us into the future.

The Wonder of the Trinity is that God is already eternally relational within God’s own self.  And yet God invites us into that relationship.  God comes to us again and again reaching out to us in the particular events of our lives; in ways that are unique to each of us, and calls to us.

God calls us and sends us.  In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord.  “I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips,” he cries.  A seraph cleanses him and his sin is blotted out.  Then he hears the voice of the Lord, “Whom shall I send?”  “Send me,” he says.

We are called and we are sent.
Sunday by Sunday, we are called.  We gather, we are fed and transformed through the Word and Sacrament, and we are sent. The prayer we say after communion is also known as the Prayer for Mission.
“Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart” we pray.
Or “Send us out to do the work you have given us to do, to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.”
Or in Rite I, “so to assist us with thy grace,… and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in.”

We are called to be sent.

We are sent with the Promise offered through the Holy Trinity.  We are promised the Holy Spirit – not only with us and within us, but going before us, leading us, pulling us into the future.

The Holy Spirit is more than a friend, a companion, a comforter and guide.  The Holy Spirit is our assurance, our “adoption papers” so to speak.

Paul writes to the Romans, “All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God… you have received a spirit of adoption….  When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very spirit bearing witness that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs of God.”

I belong, you belong, to the same God that appeared to Isaiah on the heavenly throne;
to the same God who confounds Nicodemus;
to the same God who makes Lebanon skip like a calf;
to the same God who came to us as one of us in Jesus;
to the same God who loves you like a mother and longs to gather you to God’s self.

That is the beauty and the wonder and the promise of the Trinity – that God comes to you in the particulars of your life because you belong to God.