Greetings one and all on this festal day of the Blessed Trinity. Together we extend a special word of greeting to the congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Cochrane as they mark their Patronal Festival.
Trinity Sunday is a wonderful crowning of the liturgical year, celebrating the work of God who creates us, redeems us, and calls us to holiness of life. It is the feast of our calling in God to be good stewards of creation, faithful followers of Christ and steadfast ministers of the Spirit’s grace and goodness toward all.
Every year’s celebration of this feast occasions our gratitude for the theologians of the early Church who formulated the historic Creeds, and the teachers of the Faith in every generation whose writings help us gain some comprehension of this great mystery of the Trinity. We give thanks too for artisans whose skill in creating images in stone and wood and glass and fabric helps us grasp intricacies of the distinctiveness of Persons within the unity of the Godhead.
The greatest of the hymns for this festal day extol the glory of The Trinity as a community of Persons —Father, Son and Holy Spirit—abiding in mutual love with a face turned toward the world.
Here friends is consolation for a world overwhelmed by the spread of the coronavirus (Covid 19). Worry abounds. In the news this week we heard evidence of the variability of this pandemic from one region to another across the world, within countries and from one neighbourhood to another in large metropolitan centres. The poor are especially vulnerable to community spread. Even as things begin to ‘re-open’ public health officials are advising caution through phased approaches. ‘Social distancing’ is clearly our norm for the foreseeable future. And then there is our awareness of the likelihood of a second wave of Covid 19. Anxiety abounds.
This week we saw in Sweden how less strident measures to prevent the spread of Covid- 19 have resulted in an alarming peak in the number of persons now infected.
In the United States the number of deaths has exceeded 100,000. There have been numerous expressions of national mourning from people with a heart for families whose lives are overwhelmed with grief. We have seen how across the entire country adherence to social distancing measures are abandoned as people have taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Chanting, “I can’t breathe,” they are demanding an end to racial injustice and police brutality. They are crying out for the dignity of every human being and the quest for peace with justice for all people. They are quoting Martin Luther King’s great, “I have a dream,” speech which to this day inspires hope for a better world.
This week we witnessed a prolonged pause, 21 seconds in fact, on the part of our Prime Minister as he considered a media invitation to comment on the chaos in the United States. When he finally spoke he was empathetic with those who mourn and all those struggling for racial justice. While the world’s attention is gripped by what is happening in cities and communities across America, he acknowledged that racism is a reality in Canada too. Some of it is blatant. Much more of it is systemic, rooted in our history and sadly ingrained in the hearts of many. White privilege still drives arrogance toward indigenous peoples and many other people of colour.
Now is a time for us as a country to lift up the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In this work the Church is called to be exemplary in the manner of its prayer, its practices and its profile in our communities.
We pray in the name of the Triune God—the God of our making, the God of our redeeming, the God of our strengthening—(for every labour that brings us to that day of which the Psalmist writes- “mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and peace have kissed.” ( Psalm 85:10)
We must strive for practices reflecting an unwavering commitment to our own Charter for Racial Justice in the Anglican Church of Canada. It reads, in part, “our struggle for racial justice requires new attitudes, new understandings and new relationships.”
We must work toward a public profile in which our actions honour the divine will that the beauty, bounty and intricate balances of creation be preserved for future generations to enjoy; the divine will that peoples of every language, race and nation have opportunity to flourish; that no one or no people is crying out in desperation, “I can’t breathe.”
Our observance of Trinity Sunday must lift up the glory, mercy and strength of God.
Let it be an occasion to recall images of covenant love—a rainbow set in the clouds, a law written on the hearts of the people, a crèche that cradled the Saviour of the world and a cross on which he hung, his empty tomb and his promise to abide with us always.
Let it be a time to recall great women and men who, inspired by the loving, liberating, life-giving power of God, led great movements to emancipate people from every form of slavery and apartheid; granting them equity and citizenship and opportunity to thrive. Let us be thankful for the great ones among us now.
And let it be a time to pray with renewed confidence in the power, pity and patience of God; a time for renewed steadfastness in labouring for the very things for which we pray.
From this festal day we make our way into the long season of Pentecost, ‘ordinary time’ as the Church describes it. Living in anything but ‘ordinary time’ this year, it would be good, I think, on this Sunday to renew our Baptismal Covenant and the work to which each vow summons us. Accordingly, I conclude with a Prayer for the Anniversary of a Baptism from Home Prayers, slightly adapted.
“Blessed are you, Lord God, ruler of the universe; we praise you for your love and mercy which you have shown to all your people.
Today we give you thanks and glory as we recall that day when you made us your children in baptism.
Give us grace to live in your love and help us to draw closer to you by faith, in prayer and by the manner of our living.
All glory is yours, Father, through Jesus your Son in the communion of your Spirit, now and ever. Amen.”