Anne and I were on a train to Darlington last week. I looked up to see these words above me. Hello, my name is carriage number 55789. How am I looking today? Let us know if there are any areas needing some tlC. Tweet us @northernrailorg#55789
I didn't tweet but it got me thinking about the Trinity. If a train that's carrying me to Darlington can invite me to speak to it, how much more the One in whom I live and move and who accompanies me to glory.
He has spoken - God - in deeds more than words. The Spirit of truth... will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. John 16:13 We know about the Trinity because God in Trinity has spoken through his deeds of creation, resurrection and Pentecost to show us himself. You couldn't make Christianity up, it’s a revealed faith no more no less and it’s the function of the Spirit to wake us up to it. Not to convey anything new but to give us a constant update of what’s been revealed once for all in Jesus Christ.
The first reading from Proverbs catches this, as the reading on the Darlington train caught me last week. Does not wisdom call, and does not understanding raise her voice?... The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. Proverbs 8:1, 22-23 Wisdom is God’s coming forth to us, his speaking out from the depth of his being as ultimately Christ and the Spirit have spoken in history.
And what is God saying from his depths? Our second reading tells us from the receiving end as it speaks of experiencing God in three aspects. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Romans 5:1,5) God who speaks and acts to reveal himself comes real to us in Jesus so that for over 20 centuries believers have spoken of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.(2 Corinthians 13:14 )
Today's Feast of the Blessed Trinity summarises what the church has set before us about Jesus in the Christmas and Easter cycles ending with last Sunday's celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. The Paschal Candle is back at the font but the warm light of the risen Lord burns on in our hearts by the Holy Spirit to the glory of God the Father. This is the grand reminder of Trinity Sunday.
We were up near Darlington to enter the worlds of 2 year old Olivia and Toby who've both doubled in size and age since we last saw them. Lovely to enter the joyous world of children whose fascination with life is such a great teacher. Oh to see the world through 2 year old eyes! Such simplicity and trust are in the gift of faith, along with fascination concerning the word of God and the paradox of his three in oneness. Just as children take things on trust from their parents, we children of God trust God as he acts in love towards us and speaks of himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
God is love. As we dwell in God he dwells in us and we in him. In the coming of Our Blessed Lord we see how much God loves us. In the pouring of the Holy Spirit into our hearts we receive God’s love so we can overcome all that comes against us, putting love where there is no love and seeing love grow around us. This is what St Paul is speaking about in that second reading from Romans 5 when he says: suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5:3-5)
The Feast of the Blessed Trinity is about God being love in himself and the revelation of that loving wisdom on earth inseparable from suffering. You can’t love in abstraction, you have to give it, give yourself to others which means no escape from suffering. The sign of the Trinity is the sign of the Cross, I crossed out, since Jesus came down from heaven to earth to suffer on the cross for us.
Just before I travelled up through Darlington I gave the last rites to James Nicholson’s brother Peter in a tearful ceremony with his niece Elizabeth. Few have suffered as much hospitalisation as Peter whose funeral is to be here on Tuesday week. Few families have given as much loving attention over so long a period, year by year, week by week, day by day as the Nicholson’s. Suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts That love remains with Peter and the family as they gather the fruits of perseverance, the character building that fits us by grace, through suffering, for glory.
We started with a talking train and thought of the One who also speaks to us as he carries his faithful to glory.
I end with a voice speaking this morning as if from that glory. Here is a 2 min clip Peter recorded for Premier Christian Radio. It speaks of the day of death now arrived for him when grace blossoms into glory, into the vision of the triune God face to face, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May the Blessed Trinity be Peter's healing and ours, to whom, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be ascribed all might, majesty, dominion and power henceforth and evermore. Amen.