“I have yet many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now”
John 16: 12

Today we observe Trinity Sunday –  a day when we focus on the nature of God as displayed in the Father Son and Holy Spirit.  While the Trinity is important to Christians there is no explicit story for it in the Bible – Old or New Testament. In fact the word does not exist in the Bible and I proved this.

As I was preparing this sermon over the past few days I went to my computer into a programme in which you can find any word in the Bible – and it gives you several versions of Bible to choose from. I typed in the word “trinity” and when I got to the letter ‘n’ the text turned from black to red, meaning that the word does not exist in the Bible. For the fun of it I tried this three times and got the same answer.

The truth is that the word trinity is not part of Biblical language. This word describes a doctrine of the Church which developed long after biblical times as theologians sought to establish that Jesus was also divine – Jesus was God. We cannot contemplate a situation today in which men or women of the faith would question the divinity of Christ. Or would question whether the Holy Spirit is also God who sustains us.  We believe it is so and we no longer question it – for us it is not an issue – Jesus is God and God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

While the word does not exist in the Bible however there are passages which spell it out – which seek to affirm it as they speak of that triune - threefold - relationship of Father,  Son and  Holy Spirit .  When Paul ended his second letter to the Corinthians he wrote ( 2 Cor 13:13)  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion, or fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” We say that grace very often today as well. Furthermore in the gospel according to Matthew we see Jesus instructing his disciples  to make disciples of all nations “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matt 28: 19. These are clear references to the doctrine of Trinity without using the word Trinity.

The reality is that the nature of God is a mystery – a mystery which we tried and continue to try to capture in  words. Paul puts its well when he wrote to Timothy saying that  16 Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory. 1 Tim 3:16

We shall never be able to fully understand the nature of God because it is beyond words. Whenever we feel that  we can fully describe the nature of God, that we know exactly how God is and what he will do and when He will do its then we have boxed God in -  we would have placed him in our pockets where we can control him - we could manipulate Hm. He could then be no longer God.

And the fact that we try and fail to describe God in words should make us more humble and less arrogant.  We should recognize and accept how small and frail and weak we are before God and we should be humbled by this experience. Those who claim to know the mind of God and who demand and command God to grant them what they wish - are living a life of arrogance. A life we should all seek to avoid.

When we claim to know God and God’s nature we are tempted to deny the God which others have because God expresses and reveals Himself in several and different ways - some of which we would never have considered. We need to be open to God – to open ourselves to God – in faith so that we may truly experience Him as he reveals Himself to us and the world.

As children of God then our sole objective is to seek to understand God’s will for us along with the strength to accept and do it – especially when we do not like the type of life which we are experiencing at a point in time  - times when God’s will is not ours. My brothers and sisters in Christ we should seek to experience God in our lives rather than try to define Him.

 In today’s gospel we find statements which affirm the triune nature of God. Jesus is continuing his farewell discourse with his disciples and he places before them a strange statement – the statement in the text which reads “I have yet many things to say to you but you cannot bear them now”. Jesus is making a farewell speech to his disciples and while he seems to want to tell them all he knows that there are some things which they were not yet ready to bear.

But what could he be referring to?

Could it be referring to His pending Crucifixion and death? Or perhaps to the events in their future lives? Whatever those things were he assured the disciples that they would not have to face them without His continued guidance and support. The only difference is that He would not be there, in the form they knew, as someone else would replace him – that someone was the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.

Until now in His farewell speech Jesus was seeking to convince the disciples that He and the Father were one – believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me (Jn 14:11); he  who has seen me has seen the Father(Jn 14:8). Yet for all this Jesus also told the disciples that the Father was greater than he (Jn 14: 28.

In today’s lesson however he is now assuring them that the Spirit of Truth - the Holy Spirit is a reliable guide because the Holy Spirit speaks what He speaks and He and the Father are one. That Spirit of truth would be saying the same thing that he was saying since “he will take what is mine, all that the Father has, and will declare it to you” Jn 16:15. These three persons would all be revealing each other through each other.

You could not want a more perfect unity than this.

This lesson is telling us today that while there are things that we can understand and accept now there are others which we cannot. There are thing which will be revealed only in the future – a future which is not known – and we shall need guidance in dealing with these. That guidance for us will come from God through the Holy Spirit –who will lead us into all truth.

In the Holy Scriptures we read of God revealing Himself is the world as its Father and Creator. We also read of God intervening directly in the world at a point in time, in human form as Jesus the Son. Now many years after the times of the Holy Scriptures we believe that God continues to live in the world and continues to reveal himself in the world through His Holy Spirit. Not only does he continue to live in the world today but God will continue to live in the world to eternity.

 Today there are some things about our church which we find hard to bear. When we look at our church - the Anglican Church particularly - through our eyes today we wonder how our fore-parents could have been knowingly kept in slavery and for so long. And how could the church have supported and endorsed this.  But was it not that Holy Spirit working in the minds of some men and women to remove slavery from this land. And is it not that same Holy Spirit which is now speaking to us about the way we treat our brothers and sisters. Yes the institution of slavery is now in the past but are we not perpetuating it in different forms through the way we treat others. 

 We know of a time in our Church when women were not allowed to exercise a ministry as priest. Was it not the Holy Spirit guiding the church into recognizing that God does call men only to priesthood but that he chooses whom he would? That was a truth which some of us found hard to bear and some even now still find hard to bear.

 My family in Christ, there are still many more truths to be told!

What is the Holy Spirit telling us about the way we view our human sexuality? Is ‘gayness’ to be a barrier to a call to ministry in the church – even a ministry as priest – as  race and gender once were?

During the past week this week we learnt that scientist were able to create what they call artificial life. Was it not the Holy Spirit guiding that process? We have seen advances in medicine over time which could only have been made possible through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even if those scientists did not believe it. These advances can have their negative effects as human beings use their discoveries for selfish purposes but we know that God gives knowledge and it is only through using this gift that mankind is able to discover other truths.

Are we to worry then when there are things in life which we cannot bear? No. But we must have faith that God through the Holy Spirit will ultimately guide us into all truth.

As we observe another Trinity Sunday then brothers and sisters let us be concerned to experience, with all humility, the God who is perfectly revealed in the world through the Trinity – the God who was there before and at the beginning, who entered into history in Jesus His Son and who is alive now in the world through the Holy Spirit. Let us seek to experience God as He reveals Himself in all fields of human endeavour recognizing that it is not only in the church that God is revealed.

And finally let us seek to grow more and more in faith that God may also be revealed through our lives as we allow our thoughts and words and actions to be open to God and guided and directed by His Holy Spirit.

The Rev. Allan Jones

Assistant Curate

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