|This Week's Sermon -
The True God
|"You're God is too small". I remember the title of the book from
years ago, though the book itself has long since disappeared. Yet
the title is helpful because it reminds us that all of us have a tendency
to make God too small.
The temptation is to want God to be in our pockets and used when necessary - like a calculator or an electronic organiser or a notebook. For the most part we are happy to get on with our own lives as it suits us. God is there to fill in the gaps.
Trinity is the festival of the Christian year that reminds us that our God, far from being a pocket convenience, is awe-inspiring, great and spacious in majesty "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty. Yet he is also a God who loves us so much that he sent Jesus Christ to us, loving us even when we rejected him, loving us through death to eternal life. And he is a God who leaves us not comfortless but sent his Holy Spirit to us. The Spirit of truth, the spirit of gentleness and peace, the spirit of guidance. And all of this is God.
The Trinity is not, then, an exercise in higher mathematics or the most abstract of philosophical theology. It can be both of these for the depth of God passes wisdom. But the doctrine itself is actually the most people friendly doctrine, the most down to earth doctrine.
It starts from the very world around us. From the understanding of the divine nature of the creation from the beginning of time. The hand of God has been seen in all his works and it is the hand of a loving and supremely creative God. There is a cartoon in one of the confirmation books of a monk talking to a fellow monk. They are looking up at a most wonderful dawn and one monk says to the other "And just look at his use of colour in the top left hand corner."
Scientists are still staggered and amazed at the beauty and complexity and order of the universe. There need be no antipathy between religion and science. Belief in God is not an alternative to believing in science. Science is merely the discovery of the way in which God has created the world and continues to create and sustain it. The scientist is a friend of the believer and more and more are coming to see God through their work. Find one of John Pokinghorne's books and read it. John is an eminent scientist - a physicist and fellow of the Royal Society and also a clergyman. He spoke to some of us at Edenham recently and I heard him a few weeks ago at Cambridge. His books are available at any Christian bookshop. Read them.
But as the monks comments make clear you don't have to be a scientist to appreciate God's creation - a three year old can do it and often better than us. The writer of Proverbs from whom we heard this morning wonders and muses upon the wisdom of God that was there when he "made the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep." "I believe in God the father who created the world."
Yet creation by itself, despite its mighty grandeur was not sufficient. For it could never be personal but always objective. Mankind needed a Saviour, needed a pattern, needed an example. And God in his goodness and love sent to us Jesus Christ. Born in poverty yet the Son of God. Born as a man, experiencing the full range of human emotions, experience success and failure, joy and sorrow. Showing us the Father through his miracles, his teaching and supremely through his example - his suffering and his death on the cross. As the centurion said at the foot of his cross "Surely this was a son of God." He recalls us back to our origins. He forgives us. He inspires us with a warmth and a love. He is along side us yet leading us on. He forms a personal relationship with us yet without the inadequacy of our relationships with one another. He shows us the Father.
Yet though he is personal he is also universal. The essence of this relationship is freely available to all people at all times. It is experienced through God's Holy Spirit who is known as the Comforter. It is indeed a comfort to know that God's presence is with us though he often challenges us. He challenges our complacency, our self content. He wants to lead us closer to God and for us to help others. He wants to show us the depth of the love God is calling us to. He wants us to live by the gifts of the spirit - patience, gentleness, kindness, self-control. By faith, hope and love. The Holy Spirit is dynamic showing us God's way in each and every situation. We simply cannot live without it and still be Christians.
Yet all of this is the same God, not three but one. All of them are manifestations of the same Almighty power that cares for us and our lives. That surround s us with his goodness in creation and lets us take a part in it. That so loved the world that he sent his only Son to us to live die and rise again. That is present with us at all times and in all places with his Holy Spirit. And all of that is Trinity. And all fo that is God and far more than we can ever comprehend. Yes, our God is often too small. But the real God is ever there wanting to enlarge our perception, our horizon. Wanting to stretch us to a greater understanding and a greater commitment. He is the God of earth and heaven, of life and death. And above all in our feeble attempts to love he is the God of eternal love - love in creation, love in his Son, love as the active gift of his Holy Spirit.
Now to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be ascribed as is most justly due all might. majesty. authority and power..."