“Love Makes Us One” June 3, 2012: a Sermon for Holy Trinity Sunday, Shepherd by the Sea, Gualala, California
Holy Trinity Sunday, Shepherd by the Sea, Gualala, California
June 3rd 2012
by Pastor Peter D.S. Krey, Ph.D.
Isaiah 6: 1-8 Psalm 29 Romans 8: 12-17 John 3: 1-17
Love Makes Us One
Thank you for inviting me to come preach God’s Word to you for this Sunday in which we worship and bless the Holy Trinity. I’ve finally been able to pronounce Gualala and spell it correctly. I read that that name is Pomo Native American meaning “the place where water is coming down.” Gualala is the place where the mystical blues of the river, ocean, and marine haze flow up to become one with the sky. What a lovely thought!
That your church, Shepherd by the Sea, faces the mighty ocean makes me think that you, as the priesthood of all believers, have to have a great deal of strength to minister here. You’re about 49 feet above sea level.
The ocean is so full of life, but at the same time it is capable of changing the whole world as we know it into chaos. We all remember what that Tsunami did to Japan. The villages and cities in its path were reduced to rubble; huge ships toppled over like children’s toys, new cars were flung around and found in heaps mixed with buildings turned into trash. We won’t even talk about what happened with the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plants!
The Shepherd by the Sea is a congregation called upon to minister and pastor against some forces like the mighty ocean, forces that far beyond our human control. So you and I have a calling which requires some real strength. For that kind of strength we call upon the Holy Spirit, who hovered over the waters and brought a fresh new world into existence out of the watery chaos that can snuff out all our lives. God, who created the heavens and the Earth as well as the mighty oceans, has the power to grow a fresh new paradise abundant with life where our human strength fails completely.
That is why in the Gospel of John Jesus says that we must be born from above. Our natural birth is not enough; we also need a heavenly one. That is why God sent the Son, so that whoever believes in him, becomes born not of the blood, nor of the flesh, nor of the human will, but [becomes born] of God. It is for the love of this world that the Father in Heaven sent the Son, so that out of the love of the Blessed and Holy Trinity, we too receive a heavenly birth, like that of Jesus, who is the first-born and only begotten Son of the Father and because of our birth from above, has become our own dear brother.
Our natural parents are not enough. Thank God that they had us baptized, because Jesus says that we must be born of the water and the spirit. The most wonderful gift parents can give a child is faith. (Perhaps they can’t give it to them, but they can have faith themselves and let the children see it shine in their lives.) When there is no faith, even the strength of the parents can become curses on their children. When the parents have faith, even their weaknesses can turn into blessings for their children.
Face it, some parents are very troubled. I once asked, “What is the greatest natural disaster?” People would answer, “Earthquakes, a Tsunami, Tornado, a hurricanes, perhaps.”
“No,” I would answer. “It’s your natural parents.” But if you receive God as your Father and are born from above from the water and the spirit, then it does not matter whether you had mature and understanding parents or abusive ones that left you in very bad shape to deal with the troubles of this world. Out of the love of God, you have the strength to forgive them, to love and honor them anyway, because they brought you into the world and did the best they knew how to do. But best of all, you were baptized and now the heavenly Father has given you the highest possible status and the highest possible standing and strength, so that God takes over the upbringing that your family ran out of and graciously helps you grow and mature in the stature of Christ.
For that the Heavenly Father lifted up the Son so we could see all the signs of God’s power, God’s almighty love, in which we also live and minister. We watch Jesus changing water into wine, giving eye-sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and movement to the paralyzed. He had compassion even on a hemorrhaging woman — way out of the ordinary bounds for a Rabbbi — but out of God’s compassion he healed her. He raised up the only son of a widow, so that she could still have a life in the man’s world of that day, when women had no rights. God the Father lifted up Jesus so that we can see what we become when we are born from above.
From up there our heavenly Father will also pour love and compassion into our hearts and make a way where there is no way, whether you are between a rock and a hard place yourself or finding the way for others. If the countries of the European Union got together and humbly asked God to show them the way to stay together, God could provide a way where right now there is no way. If in our country we all got together and asked God humbly to let our economy recover and prosper again, God could make a way where there is no way. If a community, and perhaps a congregation, has become nothing but a field of dry bones, God’s Word can raise up those old bones and make of them a new, living, vibrant, and prosperous community once more. The forces of nature and even economic forces are as nothing compared to the almighty love of God, which can take a narcissistic heart, a person full of him or herself, evict Numero Uno, and fill that person’s heart with all the people God loves. What’s more, God can take our empty churches and in the twinkling of an eye make us shout “S.R.O.! S.R.O.!” that means, “Standing room only! Standing room only!” We had an usher in Coney Island, who used to shout that. Usually S.R.O. stands for a “single room occupancy” for the poor. God has the power to fill all the pews and have people standing outside the doors unable to come in, because we are talking about the children of God. The almighty love of God can come in powerful waves formed by the wind of the Spirit like those of the ocean!
You may know the song that compares love with the ocean. In Vacation Church School and Day Camp we used to sing it with hand signals:
1. I’ve got peace like a river. (2 times)
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul (in my soul).
(Repeat the whole verse)
2. I’ve got joy like a fountain (two times)
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul (in my soul).
(Repeat the whole verse)
3. I’ve got love like an ocean (two times)
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul (in my soul).
(Repeat the whole verse)
The love of God that we as God’s children receive from above is mightier than the ocean, as mysterious and wonderful as this whole universe, because it too was born from God and God is continuing its creation.
I have a copy here of André Rublev’s icon of the Holy Trinity. (Click on it to get a look at it.) In it you will see the Three Persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit filled with love. This icon is filled with theology expressed in syllables of color, symbols, and figures. The Father’s robe, for example is translucent blue and brown for the sky and the Earth; the Son’s a deep blue and brown colors also for the sky and the Earth. The robe is brown for the Earth, because he is truly human and blue for heaven because he is truly divine. The Holy Spirit is blue for heaven and green for all the life and growth the Holy Spirit brings to Earth.
They look at the chalice, because the Son is coming to us to shed His blood for us, and is ready and willing to lay down His life for us, even while we were yet sinners in this lost and fallen world. We were really not worth it, except that the precious drops of blood, by which the Son ransomed our souls, make us more valuable than diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and pearls.
“How deep is your love?” the Bee Gee’s asked in their song. The love in the Holy Trinity is so deep that each person is completely one with the other. The Father is not only continuing the creation, but bearing the Son’s burden of redemption and the Holy Spirit’s burden of sanctification. The Son is one heart with the Father also shouldering God’s continuous creation, because it is not finished yet, just like we are not finished yet, because we are becoming the new creation. The Son is also in there with the Holy Spirit, who is burdened with the difficult task of taking away our love for sin and making us become alive to the things of God. The whole of creation is having the contractions and awaiting the birth of the children of God upon whose arrival the morning stars will sing and shout for joy together.
The Holy Spirit is with the Father hovering over the waters of creation and also bearing the Son’s burden, because the Son is laying down His life for us. The Holy Spirit is also in each one of us helping us find the way to become one with each other, and have the loving and gracious relationship, in which we bear each other’s burdens and provide wonderful places in our hearts for each other and all the people we love.
Our relationships, when we are children of God, become like those of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; three persons, but completely one. This is a strong internal oneness and internal unity that helps us bear each other’s burdens. Borne in the almighty love of God, we can say, “He’s not heavy, he’s my brother!” “She’s not heavy, she’s my sister!” This love of God is so powerful it makes the heaviest burdens light. That is the same love that the Persons of the Holy Trinity have for one another. As the children of God we are inside the Holy Trinity with their same love. It penetrates all the way to the heart and makes us have an unbreakable internal bond with each other wherein our hearts and souls become one. We begin to live in each other’s hearts giving new life and healing to each other – the way Christ did in His ministry here on earth.
The early Christians sold all their property and laid the money at the apostles’ feet. In this oneness they even began a Christian commune. They held all things in common and no one claimed anything they had as their own. But we read about their troubles very quickly. When we live together outwardly, sometimes we don’t know where our hearts might be. One thing is for sure, sometimes they are not together. The point is for our hearts and souls to become one. When we become one heart and soul together and the loving and compassionate heart of Christ starts beating in our breast, then we do not have to live in a commune. Our oneness is an internal bond. We live in each other’s hearts. We bear each other’s burdens. I was so proud of our congregation in Coney Island, when the council decided to help a member with a few months’ rent, so her family would not get evicted. We lay down our lives for our neighbors and that includes spending our money too. To grow and mature in this respect is a life-long commitment. We will fail, of course, again and again, because we are all sinners who have fallen short of the glory of God. We live out of forgiveness. But we keep on keeping on and you know what kicks in! God’s amazing grace, which is as mysteriously blue as a river, ocean, and marine mist flowing up to become one with the sky! Amen.
 Gualala reference http://www.flickr.com/photos/coastranger/186243182/
 Acts 2: 43-45 and 4: 32-35.