For those who were not able to attend services at Advent, the lessons and/or sermon from this past Sunday appears here, as made available by the Rector and the Church Secretary.
The Sermon for Trinity Sunday
June 19, 2011
Robin Martin, Rector
Remember the monthly publication called Episcopal Life? It’s gone now, disappeared the way many print publications have, the victim of budget cuts necessitated by declining resources. But fragments still survive in my memory because they spoke to me in some significant way that has never gone away. One such piece was an interview with a woman priest that appeared many years ago. I no longer remember the woman’s name or exactly what occasioned the interview, but she said something which struck me enough at the time to copy it out and keep it. She was talking about the voices of women, and remarked how powerful it had been for her to have eleven women bishops at the most recent Lambeth Conference, a meeting held every ten years by the Archbishop of Canterbury for all the bishops in the world-wide Anglican Communion and their significant others. She noted that women have historically been present when important decisions were being made in the church, but often they’ve remained silent or been silenced. What was important to her was to hear the voices of these women bishops raised, both in the debates among the bishops and at the altar. What she said somehow speaks to the Feast of the Trinity which we celebrate today because the Trinity, to me at least, is about the plenitude and fullness of God.
Speaking of her own voice as a priest in the church, she said this, “I want to sing my own song and then harmonize with others.” She continued, “A perfect metaphor for the church is found in a choral piece by Thomas Tallis [called] ‘Spem in Allum.’ It has 40 separate parts for forty different singers, all singing something different. Each individual has his or her part to sing. If I don’t sing my part as it is given to me, then I will put off the person next to me. If I don’t rest when I’m supposed to rest, then others can’t be heard.”
What bowled me over when I read this, and continues to astound me, is what seems to be the almost incomprehensible complexity of the piece of music she cited. Forty voices, each one singing something different! What touches my soul is how she uses that song to make sense of our life together in community. What inspires me is my firm belief that whenever we’re talking about God, music comes closer than anything else I can think of to expressing the beauty and grace and magnitude of divine reality. And while music made by a single voice can certainly reveal the glory of God, it seems to me that harmony is more nearly expressive of the plenitude and fullness of God.
One of the definitions the dictionary gives for harmony is “a combination of sounds considered to be pleasing.” Now that’s a perfectly adequate definition, I suppose, but it doesn’t begin to say what I mean. All of us, I assume, have certain kinds of music we like, and other kinds of music we may not enjoy. And doesn’t it always make for an interesting situation when folks with quite different tastes try to choose what sort of music they’ll listen to together?
But what I hope is that at least once in our lives each of us has or will experience music which transports us to another place which, however momentarily, joins us to something larger and lovelier than we have language to describe. I have a sneaking suspicion that when we find ourselves in that place we are truly in the presence of God, all of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit…Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier…Life-Giver, Pain-Bearer, Source of all that is and that shall be. I’m thinking that the Divine love poured out in creating and reconciling and upholding must form a harmony which is out of this world except in the most fragmented way which our ears catch from time to time. I believe that this harmony which is God also permeates this world and looks to and longs for people like you and me to give it voice.
Rainer Maria Rilke, the poet I’ve quoted to you before, said this about experiencing God in a way that transports us to that place where God is and joins us to that which is larger and lovelier than we can describe. He writes,
I come home from the soaring
in which I lost myself.
I was a song, and the refrain which is God
is still roaring in my ears.
This day is about the unspeakable glory and majesty of our God. Ironically, it is also the first day of our choir’s summer break. I miss their ministry during the summer because so often they help us hear and speak that glory and majesty in words … joined to music … joined to the deepest, most tender and holiest parts of our being. But here we are, the people of God gathered to sing God’s praises, and each of us has a part that is utterly unique. What I hope more than anything is that the harmony of our praise will echo through the universe, and the plenitude and fullness of the Divine will be reflected in our lives this day and every day.
The Lessons for Trinity Sunday
June 19, 2011
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights– the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night– and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
1 O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!
2 Out of the mouths of infants and children *
your majesty is praised above the heavens.
3 You have set up a stronghold against your adversaries, *
to quell the enemy and the avenger.
4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, *
the moon and the stars you have set in their courses,
5 What is man that you should be mindful of him? *
the son of man that you should seek him out?
6 You have made him but little lower than the angels; *
you adorn him with glory and honor;
7 You give him mastery over the works of your hands; *
you put all things under his feet:
8 All sheep and oxen, *
even the wild beasts of the field,
9 The birds of the air, the fish of the sea, *
and whatsoever walks in the paths of the sea.
10 O LORD our Governor, *
how exalted is your Name in all the world!
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”