Sermon preached at Eucharist on Trinity Sunday (16 June 2019) by The Revd Dr Julie Gittoes, Vicar Designate, St Mary and Christ Church, Hendon

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Sermon preached at Eucharist on Trinity Sunday (16 June 2019) by The Revd Dr Julie Gittoes, Vicar Designate, St Mary and Christ Church, Hendon

Revd Dr Julie Gittoes reflects on the life and love we receive in the Trinity. 


Russell T Davies is renowned as the man who brought Dr Who back to our screens.

He uses his creative imagination to explore what it is to be human: our relationships and character; all that is difficult, confusing, loving and good; the things we dread; and the dreams that motivate us.

His more recent project is much closer to home than the intergalactic travels of The Doctor. Years and Years is a near future drama which compresses 15 years into six hours.

Rather than stepping into the Tardis with the Time Lord, we are catapulted from January 2019 into 2034 in the company of the Lyons family.

Their world is familiar to us: they celebrate birthdays and fall in love; they worry about teenagers and fallout of love. The laugh and protest; disagree and weep.

Their world is familiar: politics vies with popularism and fake news; digital technology and data-mining collides with privacy; climate change and trade wars create instability; human beings migrate, risking everything for refuge.

It’s fierce and heartbreaking, funny and determined: it’s about everything we hope for and everything we fear. It’s about us - our generation. As one character puts it, ‘we used to think the news was boring… it turns out we were born in a pause’.

What happens to us when our world is turned upside down?

What does it mean to be human?

Something of who we are is expressed under pressure; when self-interest is pitted against out social conscience. The Lyons family reflects strength, kindness and activism. Some grow in resilience, retaining their feisty humour, revealing compassion. Others seek revenge, or cling to pride, wounding others out of fear.

The challenges of our human condition might seem like an unexpected place to start as we celebrate this Trinity Sunday. Yet the mystery of who we are and the mystery of God are bound together.

God’s love is poured into our hearts.

The love of the one God who created us, and all that is, is revealed in Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is God with us; sharing our humanity and loving us through life and death to new life.

This love of the one God is poured into our hearts, declared to us and stirred up in us by the power of the
Spirit.

This is, in the words of our anthem, life creating Trinity.

Nothing can separate us from this life; this love.

When we are under pressure, it is faith in this love that can make us hopeful.

When the world is turned upside down, it is this love that our lives are to express.

With joyful confidence, Paul expresses the impact of faith and trust with God. His claim, his boast, is that through Jesus Christ, we have access to the fullness of God; and through the Spirit, we know the love of God in abundance.

This peace, this hope, this love are gifts of God; gifts which shape the way in which we co-operate with others, seeking their well-being.

Paul’s life of prayer and witness is rooted in the movement of God’s love towards us: in creation, through the cross and into our hearts. This love of the Triune God is known in the patterns of the cosmos and the intimacy of our breath.

In the midst of suffering, darkness and chaos, this love inspires and invites us to echo this graceful movement of persistent love.

Paul names the pattern of love in his own life: in the movement from suffering to endurance, endurance to character, from character to hope.

Such a sequence flows from the sustaining power of God’s love as we form habits of embodied resistance. Such habits include the practices of lament and hospitality, forgiveness and thoughtfulness. Such gifts bring comfort and build solidarity; they resist suffering, and unite our struggle with the one God who is suffering, abundant and powerful love.

As he faces his own suffering and death, Jesus points us to the truth of this love. Before his passion and resurrection, he declares the oneness of his relationship to the Father; and promises the disciples that it is the Spirt of who will guide them, declare to them and make known the truth of this unity of love.

The late Jean Vanier described the way in which we are drawn into this unity as a ‘birthing’. To be a friend of Jesus, he says, is to be ‘birthed’ in God in a new way and live the fulfilment of joy. He acknowledges that we remain very human; that we are culturally formed and rooted; with our prejudices, fears, compulsions and desire for power.

However, in faith we grow in trust in Jesus as he leads us to abide with the Father; as the Spirit bears fruit within us enabling us to speak with wisdom and truth; to act with goodness and love. Vanier spoke of how we ‘are called to grow in union with God, dying more and more to our self-centred needs’. Then, he says, ‘we will live the final birthing… a birthing at the heart of the Trinity… at the time of our death when all of us are set in God’.

Vanier has gone before us on that journey; yet as we break bread together, we too are set in God. By the power of the Spirit, gifts of bread and wine become for us Christ’s body and blood. As we touch, and taste, and see the truth and glory of self-giving Triune love.

Here we are birthed in a new way in the heart of God; here we form habits of embodied resistance.

Here God pours out his life for us in Christ; here the Spirit breaths the truth of love in us.

Here we become partakers of God’s life and nature; here we are drawn into a movement of love and praise.

That song draws us alongside the anxious, rejected and abandoned; the hopeful, courageous and compassionate.

We began with way in which a BBC drama catapults us into the challenge of our near future. In this Refugee Week, Kate Daudy’s art installation in this cathedral is a vivid reminder of those challenges now. In canvas and crochet we see names, stories and words. She reveals to us the depth of our common humanity in all its vulnerability, resilience, creativity and hope.

As we celebrate this Eucharist, we are taken into a different future, now. Here we glimpse something of God’s Kingdom. Here we are taken to the heart of the love of the one God. Here by the power of the Spirit, we are taught how to give and serve, protest and embrace the other; our minds and hearts are enlarged with generosity and love of truth. In that Spirit, we are sent as witnesses who embody the love of God revealed in Christ Jesus. Amen.