Trinity Sunday

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I want to talk this morning about three little letters. DNA. Deoxyribonucleic acid. The molecule that encodes the genetic instructions for  the development and functioning of all known living organisms. The building blocks of life. Whether we are an ant eater or an aspidistra, a zebra or a zookeeper we all have DNA. Without it there would be no life. Its molecules are complex and beautiful. And they help to create life in all its beauty and diversity.

DNA was not discovered until the early 1950’s. In more recent years we have had the human genome and genetic engineering. And now we are looking at a future where our individual genes can be mapped and where medicines could be tailored to our own genetic makeup.

Most of us lay people struggle to get our head around some of the complexities of DNA.  We may have noticed that we have our mother’s nose or our father’s ankles. If we were brought up with the Book of Common Prayer we may have discovered the Table of Kindred and Affinity on the back page during the odd dull sermon.

It tells us that a man may not marry his mother, his daughter, his father’s mother or his father’s sister. And there are some good genetic reasons for that, though we may not have realised that at the time. If we are gardeners we may have noticed that Spanish bluebells tend to overpower the genes of British bluebells or that columbine tends to revert to its rather dull pink origins. But the wonders of base modification and DNA packaging might be a bit beyond us.

I mention DNA this morning because it strikes me that there are one or two connections between those three little letters and another trinity. The Holy Trinity. Because like DNA, the Trinity can be quite a complex concept for us to get our heads around. It’s not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere does it talk about the Trinity. And yet just as the whether we have blue eyes or brown eyes points us towards DNA, so the way that God has revealed himself in the Bible points to the Holy Trinity. One God in three persons.  Father Son and Holy Spirit. Each person or hypostases is distinct, yet they are one "substance, essence or nature". They share the same DNA if you like.

Once a year we dust off the Holy Trinity, have a look at it and then put it back on the shelf. One of the best Trinity Sunday sermons I have heard was where the preacher went to buy a car and the salesman wanted to explain the wonders of the internal combustion engine. But the preacher wasn’t really interested. He just wanted to know that the car worked. And he said that the Trinity was a bit like that. You don’t need to understand all the theory behind it. Just accept it because the church has found that it works. It makes sense of God’s revelation of himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It evolved as a concept as a response to heresy and it remains a guard against it. So that we are always careful to maintain that unity and balance between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is all you need to know. So there’s no need to worry about the finer details.

But just as we are moving into an era where we need to understand DNA a bit better. An era where we will have more knowledge and therefore more power. More decisions to make. In the same way  we really could do with knowing a little more about the Trinity.

I heard of someone last week who had converted from Christianity to another faith. And I asked why. And I was told that it was because of the whole three god thing. The Trinity is not three gods but one. The oneness of God is crucial to our faith. Not just as a concept but because it points to the way in which we are called to live. We are called to be one as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one. So the divisions in the church are not just a sin they are a sin against the nature of God.

However, God is one in a community of three persons. Creator, redeemer and giver of life. Each has their own distinct role in the godhead. So within the unity we also see diversity. Now we don’t want to take that too far because then we’d be back to the three god thing. But diversity in the godhead is important. It’s important for us as a church made up of different people with different talents and journeys of faith. We are called to be one but not called to be clones of one another. And it’s important for our society and for our world in all their diversity. Things like mass communications, the environment and international trade mean that although we differ we have to work together. As Christians who worship one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are called to reflect their life to the world.

The Trinity lives in a perfect community of love and we are called to grow together in love. To reflect the love of God in whose image we are made. And that is a constant challenge, especially in times of crisis. It would be very easy after the terrible death of Drummer Lee Rigby this week for people to lash out. To resort to hatred and violence. But as Christians we are called to overcome these things with love and to pray for those who hate us. Not just because Jesus told us to but because he showed us that that is part of the nature of the God we worship and who we are called to reflect to the world.

Love must always have its object. There must always be something or someone to love. It was not enough for the Trinity to exist alone as a community of love, sufficient unto itself. So it was out of love that the world was created in all its wonder and diversity. And love remains at the heart of creation. It is part of its DNA and we are called to strengthen and encourage that love. To love the world as God loves it.

God the Holy Trinity didn’t create the world like a wind up clock and set it on its way, watching from a distance. God continues to create, to love, to involve himself in creation, with and sometimes despite our help. God is constantly reaching out to the world, drawing it to himself. This is mission. Mission is part of the DNA, the identity of God. And this too is what we are called to be part of. We participate in the miseo dei, the mission of God. It’s not our mission. It’s not that we want more bums on seats so we can meet the parish share. It’s not even that we want to make more people into Christians. It’s that we are called to be part of God’s mission to the world. Sharing God’s love with those around us and bringing the kingdom a little closer. This is part of our DNA as Christians.

In the world of the future we will need to know more about those tiny strands of molecules. The double helix of DNA. We will have to make decisions about gene therapy, genetic modification. It will become much more important in all of our lives. If we are to be true to our calling as Christians we also need to learn more about the Trinity. Not just once a year on Trinity Sunday. But in a way that infuses the whole of our faith. So that our lives reflect the life of the Trinity. So that it affects the way we live as Christians. And so that we can say more and more, and with real conviction, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.


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