Trinity Sunday

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

The Very Rev’d Bertrand Oliver, Dean and Rector

‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.’

Well, it is good to be here today as we celebrate one of the major feasts of the Christian calendar by bringing together our congregations into one, reflecting the wide diversity of the community that is Christ Church Cathedral here in downtown Montreal.

For some, we are just round the corner, others travel great distances to be with us on Sundays, and others unable to be present physically join us in prayer online.  We are all drawn here because of the ways in which we experience God through our corporate worship, through our inclusive community, through being with one another, discerning how God is calling us to reflect the divine presence in the world today.

Today, we celebrate Trinity Sunday – a date of which preachers are usually not very fond.  Many will try to find either a mathematical formula or a clever visual aid to help their congregations to ponder the mystery and grow deeper in their understanding of a theological concept which can either feel impossible or contrived.

Because after all, three cannot equal one, or one equal three.  Or can it?

Over time, you probably have been shown triangles with arrows pointing in two directions linking the three points – God, Father and Holy Spirit.  Or seen the cutting out a figure in a piece of paper which, at the end, unfolds into a garland of three connected persons.  Or been reminded that the Trinity is not one plus one plus one equal three, but one times one times one, equal one – the power of multiplication being somehow greater than the sum of each part.  These can – at a logical level – help us to understand the unity in diversity, the unity in mutual relationship, the unity in purpose of the three aspects of God.

Even if there are three points, there is only one triangle.  Or even as we see one person – the person of Jesus – we also see God and know of the presence of the Holy Spirit.  So these images give us a way into this fundamental Christian doctrine, but in the end the Trinity requires a deep leap of faith as it reminds us simply of the presence of God in all aspects of our lives.

The biblical readings set for today give us some clues which bring us back to the essential.

The story of Creation from Genesis 1 reminds us in beautiful language of the hand and love of God in every act that brought the world to be, and every act of love ever since.

Is it not wonderful to hear of the joy and delight of God at the world in gestation, at each element that builds on the other.  From the formation of our planet to its populating with vegetation, fish, animals and humanity, God is loves every step of divine creation and revels in its goodness.

And God entrusts creation to humans, that they – we –  may do the same and look after it as good and faithful and playful stewards.  And then, God rests on the seventh day, a model for us of creative action not driven by a profit motive other than simply for enjoyment.  God made the world that we may enjoy it – not as we often see today that it be exploited.

Paul, in the very short extract from the end of his second letter to the Corinthians, is summarising his teachings to that community which has known its share of strife.  Paul emphasizes the importance of right priorities and of shared Christian love among them, which will ensure that peace will flourish.  Love here is not the flash in the pan romantic emotion that can soon be replaced by the next one, but instead a deep commitment to individuals in community which recognises our common humanity and builds up the body of Christ while bearing witness to God in the world even today.

As Paul gives them the prayer which we know as ‘The Grace’, and which we can sometimes recite by rote without thinking much about it, Paul does bring together for them the three elements of the divine Trinity into one memorable text, which has sustained Christian communities ever since.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Trinity in action.

And in Matthew’s gospel today, we hear the account of Jesus’s commissioning of the disciples in which he enjoins them to make disciples, baptize them, and teach them – reminding them that even as he is leaving them, he remains with them until the end of the age.

We will be very aware that these texts have, in the course of history, been abused by some who used them to justify wars and crusades and colonisation and the plundering of wealth and of the earth’s resources in the name of God. This is of course a travesty of the ongoing divine will of God for a kingdom of peace, love, joy and fellowship, where all would thrive as part of God’s family.

Especially because of these terrible blights on history, Christians today are called to be reconcilers and to fulfil that great commission that Jesus gave his disciples – all of us – by modelling ourselves on the ways in which he undertook his task and ministry in Galilee and Jerusalem.

Because spreading the good news of the risen Christ cannot be a violent act forced upon others, but instead a gentle drawing in of those who are curious about God and want to know more and eventually find their lives changed.

Even Jesus could not force people to become disciples, but instead he invited them to hear his stories, to see him in action as a healer, a reconciler, a compassionate listener, a builder of community, someone who cared for those in need and who sought to reform oppressive and unjust structures of society.

He did this always in reference to God his father, with whom he sought intimate time in solitary prayer, but also in the light of the Holy Spirit who was given to him and who animated his every action, as she will ours if we will be attentive both in our silent prayer and the movements of our hearts and souls.

Today, in this Cathedral church, this is what we are celebrating as we are bringing together our 9 and 10:30 congregations together for this bilingual Eucharist, seeking to build bonds of lasting peace between us who do not see one another often, as we recognise the sharing of our divine purpose through our common community and humanity.  As we delight in each other’s presence over food in the way that Jesus did.

Here, as a community, we celebrate the Trinity at work amongst us, and we give thanks for our resilience and vitality after the Covid years, and the shared Gospel values that animate us.

Earlier in the year, at our Annual General Vestry meeting, we recognised the blessings and signs of God’s grace among us and looked with gratefulness and confidence towards the future.

For our Christian family, as for Christian communities around the world, living out the Gospel with integrity in our context requires discernment and purpose.

At Christ Church, as we continue to live out our calling as a worshipping community here in downtown Montreal with faithfulness, we have recognised five priorities for the years ahead.

  1. Continuing our work on inclusion in all its forms
  2. Developing our welcome and support of families and children
  3. Fostering new leadership from within our community
  4. Greater engagement with the communities that immediately surround us
  5. Securing the financial sustainability of the Cathedral for the long term

These priorities are demanding and will require our common commitment in prayer and action as we seek to witness to the Trinity of love in our lives and our community.

May God the father, God the son and God the Holy Spirit bind us together and fill us with love and purpose as we continue to seek to invite all those whom God places in our path to join us on this life giving journey . Amen

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