St. Mary Magdalene Anglican Church

Vancouver, B.C.

Phone: 604-877-1788


The Anglican Parish of St. Mary Magdalene

2950 Laurel Street at West 14th Avenue

Vancouver, BC, V5Z  3T3

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Diocese of New Westminster Anglican Church of Canada

Home Who We Are UAM What Is On Sermons Contact Us


June 7th Trinity Sunday, 2020                                                John Marsh

(Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8; 2Corinthians 13:11-13; Matthew 28:16-20)

‘Vides trinitate si vides charitate’

(‘You will see the Trinity when you act lovingly’)¹

Traditionally, historically, the name we use for that stirring within life, the rising of transformative possibilities, those dreams of new hearts, new minds, is god². Yet truthfully, at times, we’ve been carried away, overconfident, pedantic when poetry was called for, inflexible when fluidity was required.

Which is to say that Trinity Sunday should be a day of conceptual humility, a question of expression, a time of softening, a weakening, requiring a lighter, defter touch.

It is a day of image, metaphor and simile, a day suggestive, pointing a direction, hinting at an experience…

It is a time to attend to our hubris, a time to extend our vision, a time to embrace linguistic playfulness…

And so, with respect to one named yet beyond all names³, to one stirring within life, one whose insistence perhaps invites an existence, we sing:

God of many names, gathered into One,

Source and light and warmth inviting,

moving, endlessly becoming⁴…

Here, within a song sung, metaphor paints promise, suggests faith, illumines relational intimacy…

The song sung points to alternative, varied approaches in voicing the experience of god, of divinity as trinity…

The song sung invites resistance to distractions, be they the endless parsing of arcane flights of fancy or the sedation of doctrinal presumption and expectation…

The song sung invites us to open to an unnameable experience, the unknowability of god, forever stirring within life…

The metaphoric mystery of trinity is that of divinity, that which we name as god, perhaps involved with life, stirring within life…

It may be that god is within enlivening’s of life, possibilities within birth’s, hopefulness within nurturance, ‘for god so loved the world’… (see John 3:16)

And so, if god so loves, we are included…

However, god may invite us but never just us, god may invite, solicit us, yet is never defined by us.

This is not to diminish us but to balance us, to attend to our equilibrium, hopefully restoring us as participants in life’s cosmic dance…

Trinity, as ‘father, son and spirit’, as ‘light, illumination and warmth’⁵, or as ‘lover, beloved and the love shared’⁶ is an invitation to respect, to participate, in life’s inter-relational mystery as opposed to presumptively grasping after mastery and dominance.

Truth to tell, god is experienced within the world, within the relational matrices of life, all life, so much so that interrelationship, interdependence may be understood as matrices within which god perhaps stirs…   

Consequently, affirmations of god, of faith, require that we honour and serve the relational matrices that undergird our identity and our awareness of the sacred.

The beginning of worship – worship is more than its religious expressions - is living with respect for the interrelationship and interdependence that forms life and expresses grace.

But of late, we have become more agents of decline than participants in the flourishing of life.

In our hubris, our arrogance, our separation, we have confused dominion with domination. With our domination of creation, we have fostered the belief that humanity is the apex of creation, the only ‘beloved’ of god, that some are more human than others. In so doing, we have become harmful to life – we have become toxic!

Truth to tell, we are often at odds with creation, at odds with that which name as god!⁷

And it is this reality, this opposition, that frames the mission of ‘wisdom’s child’:

‘For god so loved the world that he gave his only Son…in order that the world might be saved’ (John 3:16-17)

Now it is my hope, my prayer, that it is becoming clearer that the experience of the sacred, that which we name as god, requires not simply a devotional response but more importantly a worldly response, ‘that the name of god is the name of a deed, a mundane work of love and hospitality… tending to the quotidian world.’⁸

‘For god so loved the world…’

If the mystery of ‘divinity as trinity’ evokes any consideration, it must be that life, our life, involves not simply what we do but how we do it; and, as with all ‘how’ questions, the answering requires ongoing conversations, considerations concerning life lived with respect and with compassion for the web of life.

Surely this is the beginnings of justice.

Surely this is the vocation of the children of god who are joint heirs with ‘wisdom’s child’.

One named as god, experienced as lover, beloved and love – or any of a number of poetic expressions - requires that we shape our social, political and economic policy to be ‘at-one-with’ the creation of which we and divinity are irrevocably related; this is the Divine Liturgy with which we are involved, this is the ‘public work’⁹ required of the heavenly realms and microbial mystery.

It is hard but honourable work.

It is complex work involving different visions, birthing a diversity of responses, requiring of us the conversations inherent to the flourishing of communal living which may be the matrix of the sacred.

Of course, we will at times fall short, miss the mark, fail…

Yet, ultimate failure need not necessarily be our fate, if we honour the divine relational matrix by seeking, with humility, to learn from our mistakes ever endeavouring to live within the whole.

If we are ‘at one with’ we are opening to this mystery, respecting this mystery as the beginning of living fully alive.

Trinity is the mystery of the sacred interdependence of all life – divinity is life flourishing.

So, remember,

‘Vides trinitate si vides charitate’

(‘You will see the Trinity when you act lovingly’)

 ¹  This is St Augustine’s ‘solution’ to the mystery of the Trinity.

 ² That the word god has been traditionally used is to also suggest that some, perhaps many, may chose not to use this name, opting for other language to speak of hopes, dreams and desires within life. Personally, while I respect the choice not to use, I continue to speak of god, without denying or ignoring its inherent problems, because I still sense something stirring within the name.

 ³ As Meister Eckhart suggests god is unnameable and hence, omni-nameable.  

 ⁴ Within this piece, within the hymnody sung, pay attention to the various images and metaphors used to point to the inexpressible.

 ⁵ This was a favourite analogy of Gregory Nanzianus, Gregory of Nyssa and Basil the Great.

 ⁶ This was a metaphor used by St Augustine.

 ⁷ The biologist Jonas Salk once said, “If all insects on Earth disappeared, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” Implicit in this statement are two biological realities: all life is profoundly interrelated and interdependent; we are more dependent on others than they on us. If you will, we live by ‘Gaia’s grace’. Within the biological realties of Gaia is a theological reality.  As odd as it may sound, understanding the biological import of interdependence and interrelationship is essential if we are to open to the mystery of divinity as trinity. Truth to tell, our sensibilities are improving but there is still a long road ahead.

 ⁸ John Caputo, The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps (Indiana University Press, 2013) p.262

 This is the meaning of the word liturgy.