Scripture Readings: Proverbs 8:1–4, 22–31 | Psalm 8 | Romans 5:1–5 | John 16:12–15
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:12-13.
Congratulations again to our graduating students: as a Parish family we are so proud of you, and all that you have accomplished.
As one chapter of your life draws to a close, and another begins I’d like to offer you, along with all of us here today a simple suggestion: stay curious. Stay curious. Stay open to learning new and surprising things about our world… about the people all around you… and even about yourself. Things that may challenge you… things that may encourage you… but most of all, things that draw you closer and closer to truth.
Don’t settle for easy answers if they do not lead to truth. And be willing to dig, and search, and seek out truth… even if it’s a struggle. For as St. Paul pointed out in our reading today from Romans, we know “that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5). In other words, sometimes the right path can be hard… but it’s also well worth it in the end. And we can believe that through the Holy Spirit, God’s love will be with us through it all.
So stay curious. Search for truth. And may God be with you always.
But saying all this might raise the question: Who is God anyway? Who exactly are we talking about when we speak of God?
There are all sorts of ideas out there about God… some ideas we might find easy enough to get behind… others are more of a struggle… and still others frankly seem outrageous… incompatible with One worthy of worship. With so many different ideas about God out there, sometimes it’s a struggle to know what we should believe.
And not only that, but for a whole lot of reasons, over the course of our lives, our own ideas about God keep on shifting and changing as well. With all this debate and uncertainty, sometimes it might just seem easier to give up trying to figure out God.
But what if, instead of it being a matter of sorting out our own ideas, or the ideas of others… of trying to figure God out for ourselves… what if God showed up in such a way so that we could come to know the truth? What if God wants to be known, and shows up in ways we can actually understand?
Maybe ‘understand’ is the wrong word. ‘Understand’ implies complete comprehension… like when we master a subject or skill… being able to explain all the ins and outs… that’s how we know many things about our world… but there are also other ways to know… even if we don’t completely ‘understand’.
Think of a child. A toddler, gradually coming to ‘know’ their family: unconsciously building up a picture of their parents over the years… through seeing their actions… hearing their words, experiencing the ups and downs of daily life together… and learning a lot about themselves and who they are through these relationships.
At what point would we say a child knows their parents? When they understand everything about them? Probably not. When the child can express in words and ideas their parent’s complex personalities? I wouldn’t go that far either. Wouldn’t we be able to say a child who merely recognizes their mother’s voice, their father’s smile, their family’s faces has in some way come to know them? Incompletely, of course, but truly… as best they can. And if they stay curious… if they keep paying attention, and seeking to grow in understanding, they’ll get to know their family members more and more. Even if they never ever completely understand them.
Another example is love: we can come to understand the chemical reactions in our brains and bodies that take place when we share in deep human connections… but that doesn’t mean that we’ve ‘explained’ what it means to love. There’s still a deep mystery about it… one we’re invited, and even created to experience, to offer, and to receive.
In other words, we come to know what it means to love not by observing it from a safe distance, but by sharing it. By stepping into it. And by receiving it.
Coming to know the Living God is more like this: not simply studying a subject or skill, or solving a puzzle, and then moving on to something else… but gradually growing closer to Someone we can’t completely understand… but who is actually longing for us to experience their love… to share their life… to know freedom… connection… justice… mercy… forgiveness… truth. Not only for one season of life, but for all eternity.
How do we know this? Because we believe the Living God has spoken… God has showed up… and has shown Himself to the world.
We believe God has been doing this for quite some time now… thousands of years in fact… through the story of Abraham’s family… the people of Israel, who were set aside to get to know God up close and personal, so that all the world might come to know and share God’s love along with them.
We believe God speaks to us today through this story… a story of blessing, of failure, of forgiveness, and finding new life… a story of our whole human family… and that at the climax of the story of Israel… we meet Jesus of Nazareth: someone who’s words and actions, whose entire life reflects the love of God; someone who gave His life on the cross in order to bring God’s new life to our broken world; someone who, against all expectations, rose again from the grave, and started off God’s hope-filled New Creation; someone who claimed to share full communion with God, and who invites everyone to share that connection as well.
And we believe because Jesus has given His Holy Spirit to dwell inside us… to bring God’s New Life to take root within us so we too can experience God’s love, and let His love, freedom… connection… justice… mercy… forgiveness… and truth grow in us every day, and bring His healing to our broken world.
In the Christian calendar, today is Trinity Sunday: a day that Christians remember that the Living God is not a logical puzzle to solve, or an abstract idea of the divine, or an irrelevant footnote in the history of human religious thoughts… but Someone who knows us all, and wants us to come to know them too. Someone who is the source of our longings for love… for freedom… for connection… for justice… for mercy… for forgiveness… for truth… and who’s also the only Someone who can fulfill all of these longings. Someone who has made themselves known most clearly in the face of Jesus Christ, and someone who invites us all to have their life fill and fulfill all that we are.
Who is God? Christians have come to know the Living God as the Trinity: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit… the Three-in-One and One-in-Three we worship, serve, and share our lives with. We know this is a mystery… not a riddle to solve, or a subject to master, but a family to gradually come to trust… a communion of love to experience… a story to step into and follow into new adventures… and so find new life again and again.
The Christian Church believes in the Trinity because throughout the centuries and even today, we keep encountering Jesus Christ the Risen Son of God, who makes known to us the loving heart of God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit keeps drawing us into their fellowship. Though we don’t understand it all, and we often struggle along the way, this Triune God keeps working in and through us: through our words and our actions, so His freedom… connection… justice… mercy… forgiveness… and truth can flow into our broken world, and all might come to experience and know His love.
This is what the Church teaches and believes… but rather than settling the matter, this great mystery invites us all to stay curious. To keep on searching for deeper understanding… to be open to new discoveries as we seek to know God better that will challenge and encourage us. And as we do so, we can trust that God Himself is at work in and through us to draw us closer and closer to the truth.
So may we all stay curious, search for truth, and find God with us always. Amen.
Rev. Rob serves as the Priest-in-Charge at St. Luke's Gondola Point, and as the School Chaplain at Rothesay Netherwood School