July 2005 Sermon
We Anglicans practice “common prayer”, that
is saying together each Sunday such prayers as the Apostles Creed which,
as soon as I finish, we’ll all say together. In it we state our belief in
the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, but
what do we mean when we say that?
We Christians, have a God who is not just one
God but three Gods and only one God all at the same time. Our reading
to-day talks about this three person God who is there to help us all the
time. Now, this isn’t an easy concept so I thought I would share with
you how I understand it.
I know this isn’t the whole story. Hundreds
of books have been written and scholars have spend lifetimes trying to
explain it, but just like so much of creation and the complexity of God,
so much is just beyond what my human brain is equipped to understand. So
here is MY explanation:
First, think about how many people you are.
For me, I am a daughter to my Mother. I am a Mother to my children and
Granny to their children. I am a student at Wycliffe and a wife at
home. I wear different costumes in my different roles. In my court robes
I am a lawyer to my clients and this cross identifies me as a Dame to my
fellow Templars (a Christian fellowship of good works). And, here, at St
Monica’s, In my alb I am your pastoral associate. Depending on where and
how you know me, you see me as a different person. And depending on what
role I am playing, I feel and act like a different person. But there is
only one me.
The Trinity is something like that . . . and
at different times and places we look to God and need God in different
Jesus is the one most people pray to and most
preachers talk about. He told us “No one comes to the Father except
He taught us how to pray and we know Him in his human form, as one of us.
God the Father is the God we know best through
the Old Testament, the Creator of all that there is, the fierce Defender of His People and the God of “Thou
And then there is the final arm of the
triumvirate: the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. The gift that comes with
our baptism, the gift of God given to us when Christ left this earth, in
some ways a guardian angel, the one who is always there with us and the
nagging little voice that helps us do what we really ought to do, the One
who is strong when we are weak.
I must admit that for me it is the Holy Ghost
that I turn to most often. I even have a little centring prayer “Holy
Spirit, abide with me”. The Holy Ghost is just a great friend . . .
always there no matter the hour of day or where I might be. To-day I want
to share my friend with you. And who doesn’t need a special friend?
No one ever has a perfect life: no matter how
it may look from the outside to others. Even the Queen had an entire
year she called “annus horribilis” the HORRIBLE year.
And don’t we all have “one of those days”,
when nothing seems to go right? The alarm doesn’t go off; there’s a spot
on the shirt you were going to wear; you don’t have the right change for
the streetcar and the sink is full of dirty dishes . . . just one of those
days when you wish you could jump back into bed and pull the covers up
over your head and not come out again until the world has managed to
straighten itself out!
And then there are the truly deep problems
that haunt sleep and sap our souls. Broken relationships, not enough
money, feelings of hopelessness, children in trouble, the lost job,
depression, illness: the list goes on. Sometimes it isn’t a question of
climbing back into bed: it’s an inability to get out of bed at all.
And just when everything seems darkest, when
hope seems an impossible dream, help is at hand and it is so simple.
Now this may sound preachy, but it works. You
just hand it all over to God. You tell Him, “This is too much for me. I
can’t cope. I can’t find any answers. Let me turn this all over to you.
I can’t solve the problem. My child’s troubles, or my dying Mother or my
own loneliness. Please take this all onto YOUR shoulders. Mine are too
And the strange and wonderful thing is, it
works! When I first heard about this I was so skeptical. I thought,
maybe it works for the gullible, or for people who don’t have real
problems. But it wouldn’t work for me. My problems are real.
But the idea was planted in the back of my
brain, just as I’m hoping to do for you this day.
Because one day, when I was just beside myself
with worry and didn’t know how to help someone I loved who was
self-destructing, it came back to me. I was so unhappy and so worn out
with despair that I thought, “what do I have to lose?” so I just turned it
all over to God.
The relief was immediate. One minute I was so
broken with worry and pleading, “I give up, please take this”, and the
next minute the Holy Spirit had lifted the burden and was giving me a
break. Amazingly, after just a few days the problem became manageable and
I could deal with it. It’s like a vacation from your problems, it’s right
there for the asking. And that is the one thing God is waiting for: just
waiting for you to say, “Help . . . I need you”.
I feel like one of those “official spokesmen”
that are always on TV urging you to try some product or another. Except
I’m here peddling the Holy Ghost. But do try talking to Him. Next time
the world seems too much . . . just turn it all over to Him and see what
the love of God the Holy Ghost can do for you.
therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,
who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law
of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the
law of sin and death.
For what the
law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God
sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin,
condemned sin in the flesh:
righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they
that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
For to be
carnally minded [is] death; but to be spiritually minded [is] life
carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be.
So then they
that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But ye are
not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of
God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he
is none of his.
Christ [be] in you, the body [is] dead because of sin; but the
Spirit [is] life because of righteousness.
But if the
Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he
that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal
bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.