A Sermon from Sherborne

The Holy Trinity

A sermon for the Parish Eucharist at Sherborne Abbey, preached on Trinity Sunday, 16 June 2019, by The Reverend Guntars Reboks, Assistant Curate

 

According to the church calendar it is Trinity Sunday and according to another, secular calendar today is Father’s Day. Both of these events draw our attention to the question of “Where are we from?” Where is my father from? Where is my grandfather from? Where is my great-grandfather from? Where is his father from? How far back can I trace my paternal line? Can I trace it back to Adam and his father, who is the Heavenly Father?  Today is a good occasion to think about our earthly fathers and to remember fathers and grandfathers who already have passed away.

God the Father is one of the three personas of the Trinity. It is no secret that the theological discussion of the Trinity was very complicated and difficult. There were those who did not support the concept of the Trinity – anti-Trinitarians[1] – and those who defended it. And even among the supporters of the doctrine of the Trinity there were several interpretations of the Trinity.[2] These differences separate the Eastern Churches from the Western. These differences separate different protestant denominations.

All of these, of course, are man-made theological constructs which are concrete and defined, but can God be defined in such a manner? And this is the beautiful thing about the image of the Trinity: on the one hand it is concrete: One God; but on the other hand it is very abstract[3]: One God in three persons. It’s neither concrete nor abstract and at the same time both concrete and abstract. The Trinity is the primal Unity in which no division exists. A French cleric described God as a paradox…

The ancient Greek concept τύπος (túpos) which means model or image, was evoked in religious rituals usually in a form of a god or goddess.  Imagination was a very important part of that process. Later the Medieval European thinkers wrote about the importance of imagination in our lives or Mundus Imaginalis, which is the world of our imagination.

Today we are invited to appreciate the images through which God reveals himself: art, literature, music, flowers… Let us give thanks for the manifoldness of God.

 

[1]    Many forms of early Christianity adhered to Nontrinitarianism, for example the Jewish Christian groups like Nazarenes and Ebeonites. Later in the Middle Ages the Lombards, Ostrogoths, Visigoths and Vandals followed a Nontrinitarian form of Christianity. Today one of the most known forms of Nontrinitarianism is Unitarianism.

[2]    To name just some of the interpretation: Sabellianism (or modalism) instead of talking about three personas, suggests modes or aspects; Arianism was the belief that Jesus was subordinate to the Father, Nestorians believed that the divine Christ is different from Christ the human.

[3]    The abstract nature of the Trinity can be demonstrated in many ways for example how the Holy Spirit is portrayed in icons and art, also the many images of Christ that have been produced throughout the centuries in all the world.

The Reverend Guntars Reboks, Assistant Curate 16/06/2019
The Abbey Church of St Mary the Virgin, Sherborne