Friday, June 5, 2009

Real, necessary, urgent, and powerful

Some great affirmations of faith and purpose in a sermon by John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, a few weeks ago for Ascension Day.

Dear friends, I bid you today to take hold of the reality of the Resurrection. The necessity of the birth and death of Jesus Christ. The urgency of the task to be witnesses for Christ. The secret of power given to us by the Holy Spirit.

I like the strong words he chooses. May all who are preparing to preach and hear on this coming Trinity Sunday likewise find the real, necessary, urgent and powerful presence of God.


Tim said...

I once heard someone say that no one can preach more than three minutes on the Trinity without falling into heresy; son on Trinity Sunday, the preacher should read the Athanasian Creed, and thank the Sunday School teachers.

TLF+ said...

Hi, Tim (no, other Tim, not me talking to myself).

I think another mistake we make is always giving the Trinity sermon to a seminarian or curate. I think that good preaching on the Trinity requires the insights that come from years on integrating one's theology and spirituality in submission to the mystery.

When we delegate the Trinity to seminarians or new clergy, the people get an academic history of a "concept." Not all bad but definitely a timeout from worship and discipleship.

Notice how naturally Sentamu moves between supernatural events and church life? Just like - dare we say it - THE BIBLE.

BTW I am quoting the Athanasian Creed on Sunday... although preaching more than 3 mins. Think I'm keeping it orthodox, too... although you are right that the more one talks on any one point the more one moves toward heresy!

David said...

I always will remember what a rector said when I was in grad school: "I forgot to go on vacation this weekend, so I have to preach on Trinity Sunday." Humorous, but in many respects, sad.

David Baird

TLF+ said...

David - The quote is very common "gallows humor" among clergy. How ironic that we turn from the mystery of love. As John says, "God is love"; then there's Dante's beautiful expression of "The love that moves the sun and other stars."

We've wandered so far from God, I fear. We are always after a "moral" message (right and left - "social justice" sermons can be just as dead and legalistic as dry screeds against, say, women wearing too much makeup.

I think we've all become utilitarians of some sort. We think the sermon must always come back to an agenda, or therapy, or something "useful." Seldom do we come to a place of awe, seldom are we "lost in wonder, love and praise."

If nothing else comes, I think that some preachers should just go back to the early church writings. There are sermons and meditations on the Trinity there. I would rather have one of those read to me than hear another, "Well, the church speaks of God as a community, so we all need to work on being relational" bland-fests.

When it comes to the Trinity, we are calling on people to come join us on an adventure. We are challenging them to drop all cumbersome platitudes about "All paths going to heaven" and "It's all the same God." We should be clearing cobwebs out of our people's souls, not letting cobwebs hang on the pulpit.

Ah, see? Now I'm mixing metaphors. Time to stop.