Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Feast of the Holy Trinity, Year B

Eyes To See God

Readings: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

The early church leader Augustine was once accosted by a heathen who showed him his idol and said, "Here is my god; where is thine?" Augustine replied, "I cannot show you my God; not because there is no God to show but because you have no eyes to see Him."

That is strongly the message of the Gospel on this Sunday as we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The gospel tells the story of Nicodemus, a seeker, one who wanted eyes to see God, coming to Jesus. Nicodemus holds a high position in the synagogue. He is intensely religious in his own way. He is open to new possibilities, at least on the surface. Yet he comes to Jesus in the darkness of the night. It is the only way he feels free to come and find out about him. He senses the aura of godliness around this man. He is curious about him.

And what he finds out is more than he bargained for. “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above,” Jesus tells him. They are startling words that take him aback as he discovers that the Christian faith is more than a nice way of life. It is a new way of looking at reality. It is a new way of looking at God. It means abandoning every attempt to become righteous on his worthiness and willingly accepting the free gift of God’s grace.

He finds it difficult to wrap his mind around it. “How can it be?” he asks Jesus. He wants to understand. He wants so much to learn about Jesus. Yet how difficult he finds taking that first step! And yet we know that he did, for he became one of those who were close to Jesus. He did open his eyes to see. He was there at the crucifixion. He was a witness to the resurrection.

So often we struggle to understand. We grapple with difficult theological concepts about God. The concept of the Trinity is one of those difficult things that we try to wrap our minds around. We struggle to explain God theologically. We struggle to put it all into words. We look for illustrations that will help people to understand how God can be three in one and one in three. We recite the creed. We search scripture for what it speaks to us about God. And those are truly good things to do. We need to know more about God. We need to exercise our minds about God. But when it comes down to it, like Nicodemus, we need to be seekers. We need to open our eyes. We need to see and experience how God is at work in our lives.

A couple of weeks ago some children doing a course in diversity came to St. Francis to find out about the Christian faith. I could have talked to them about what we believe but their eyes would have glazed over and they would have left with no more understanding than when they walked through the door. I let them loose in our church to explore. I got them to look around at what was important to us, at how we worship God. Through answering their questions about what they observed I was able to help them to understand and experience what we believe about God. They saw the cross towering above them. They followed the Way of the Cross through our Stations. They stood around the altar with me as we talked about sharing a meal. They examined the Paschal candle and the font. They and their parents and teacher experienced at least a taste of our approach to God. In fact, one parent said that she intended to find out more about the Christian faith.

This festival should not be one that leaves us confused. It should not have us arguing the fine points of Scripture. It should not have us debating the meaning of the creeds. It should not have us trying to explain the deep mystery of God. Rather, it should reinforce what we know about God. It should help us to experience God in new and exciting ways. It should open us up to new possibilities of worship and a new understanding of how God’s grace works in our lives.

Spirituality, our search for God, is more than human effort. It is more than reason. It is more than our pursuit of God. It is more than mindset. It is revelation. It is intuition. It is God reaching out to us. It requires our trust as well as our knowledge. What Trinity Sunday challenges us to do is to examine our image of God and to allow God to be revealed to us so that we can approach God and grow spiritually.

What is your image of God? Who is this God in whom you put your trust? Who are you worshiping Sunday after Sunday? Scripture cannot adequately express that for us. Each of us must come to terms with who God is and how God is revealed to us personally.

I find God in prayer and I do not mean in the formal prayers of the church, although there is something powerful about our Anglican liturgy. It is in my honest conversations with God that I feel God’s presence. It is in engaging in active listening that I discern God at work in my life. God talked to me as I walked my dogs this morning. I saw the hand of God in the beauty around me, and it became my prayer. The carpet of lush green in the woods, the sun filtering through the trees, the freshness of the morning air, the sound of the birds, a little grey squirrel sitting on a stump eating breakfast. I rejoiced that we have a loving Creator God.

I experience God so often through other people. It is not the things they say about God, but the things they do, their actions, their living faith, that convince me that the Spirit of God is working in and through humanity. I see it in children who have not yet lost their ability to simply be. I see so clearly in them that we are created in God’s image.

I experience our loving God as I look back over my life and see where God has led me. I see how Christ has walked with me through times of despair and sadness. I see how Christ has been with me as one door slammed shut and another opened for me. I see how Christ has been there at times of joy. I know and experience the saving grace of God.

God so loved the world. God so loved the world. God so loved the world. Let us have eyes to see our awesome God.

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