On this Holy Trinity Sunday
we are gathered in praise before the God who is too glorious,
and whose love is too magnificent to be contained in one person.
We come before the God who reveals himself to be relationship, to be friendship, to be living togetherness between the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
We come as people made in God’s image;
So that, just as God is relationship we are made for relationship –
but still, coming back together into in-person relationships with one another over the last few weeks and months hasn’t been without some stress,
and some awkward moments —
and these days it seems mostly to center around face masks.
In the last weeks, especially,
things have been changing fast.
And its hard to keep up with the data, but also to keep up with our fluctuating emotions as we’re told we can take masks off in many situations after never wanting to be without one for over a year.
We are probably feeling some excitement, some trepidation, maybe some sadness about this past year and more – as new parts of life opening up.
But there is still the question – when do we wear masks and when do we not have to —
And I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had about whether masks are still needed and when.
It’s interesting to hear today of the angels in the vision given to the prophet Isaiah.
These winged angels called serephs, who exist in pure light and eternal praise of God – hover above the Lord, covering their faces as they sing to God — Holy Holy Holy —
Ancient rabbinic tradition and medieval theology claimed these fiery beings to be creatures who care for Gods throne and help God maintain order in the cosmos. Creatures who sing eternally the traisagon, the thrice holy hymn to our creator.
Holy, holy, holy — the whole EARTH is full of God’s glory.
But while this awesome vision of a God’s glory offers much to ponder
What I wonder most of all about this mysterious scene
is how people hear these words today.
Specifically, I wonder if people believe them to be true
and believe that earth is in fact full of God’s glory.
Surely we believe HEAVEN is full of God’s glory.
We can trust that HEAVEN is truly full of God’s glory and light, of God’s majesty and splendor.
Certainly, in heaven God is perfectly reigning
and God is respected, honored, and praised.
But is EARTH really full of God’s glory?
Would the world see it this way?
Would the world out there say that the earth is FULL of God’s glory?
Would the world look at a creation that is subject to pandemics,
At a world with governments that communicate by filibuster,
and say they see God’s glory?
Would they see the violence in Gaza,
And the shooting this past this week in San Jose,
And say that the world is full of God’s glory –
The manifestation of Gods presence in the world?
And would we?
Another way of asking the question is:
Do we look for God’s glory on earth? Really?
It is easy to let our relationship with God become
religion that just morphs into a way to cope with the stress of our lives,
Its easy to let our connection to God devolve into
Simply words or actions that we use to insulate ourselves from the mess out there in the world…So that we don’t really expect to see God’s glory in this world.
Or maybe we want to tell and show the world
the difference God makes in our real, earthly, everyday lives
but we are almost too familiar with God,
We forget the awesome majesty of the unapproachable God
who cannot be seen and live and yet,
Astonishingly, wonderfully, has revealed himself
in glory of the face of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Perhaps we are somehow like Nicodemus,
and we do know Jesus is someone to follow and inquire of and serve,
but we misunderstand the radical new life Jesus extends
and the nature of rebirth and transformation Jesus offers.
Jesus comes to do more than just teach us,
more than just forgive us,
more than just lead us.
Jesus comes to bring the Kingdom of God and God’s glory to earth…
to the flesh and bone and blood,
every day, ordinary life
that Nicodemus and you and I live each day.
Jesus speaks of heavenly things, but he speaks of earthly things, too,
He speaks of God present in our life here and now…
God is truly present in struggles and sufferings we have endured and are enduring:
the isolation experienced by people living alone,
the stress marriages are subject to in a time where spouses
are having to play more roles in one another’s lives than intended,
the difficulty children and parents have known in school online
or in person behind Plexiglas or a mask,
the mental health struggles of so many, and each in unique ways.
God us present with us in Jesus lifted up on the cross.
In the cross, God’s glory given to earth, present in the darkest human moments and even death, and is also graciously leading us in love beyond death to God’s way of life which has been let loose in the world by God’s power to roll the grave stone away from the tomb of Jesus to reveal our Lord is living.
In Christ, we are reborn into God’s power to recreate, and save, and heal, and guide, and free.
This week we learned of the death of beloved children’s’ author, Eric Carle, at age 91.
His favorite color was yellow
and he used that bright hue in the seemingly ever-present sunshines
that graced the pages of his many books, which were adored for over a generation, by children
and their parents, grandparents, and loving adults.
But for all his many books, this past week,
every obituary, tribute, and remembrance
celebrated him as the author of one book in particular
The “Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
Indeed, it is a wonderful story of transformation.
“The very hungry caterpillar” is a little book
that teaches the days of the week, colors, and counting.
But at the heart of the story is the hope and possibility
that are available through rebirth.
In the story, on Saturday night we meet a little white egg
who on Sunday morning emerges as a caterpillar.
After a busy week of gorging himself on many different foods he becomes a chrysalis,
And the next day he is reborn as a beautiful butterfly.
Children are delighted by the transformation
From egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly.
Baptism into the life of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is God’s gift of rebirth, transformation and new life for you.
Jesus’ love for you has transformed you into children of God and the Spirit leads you in a new identity as sons and daughters of the Father of all creation.
Every birthday you have is a reminder of God’s first gift of life.
every day you see friends celebrating birthdays on Facebook
is a reminder of gods wonderful creating powers to give us birth.
And yet, grace upon grace, we are also reborn.
Not the same kind of birth, but again, as Nicodemus misunderstands,
but a NEW BIRTH of God living in and through us for the sake of the world.
Time and again, we are like the hungry caterpillar,
if you remember, who gorged himself on things that weren’t intended for him.
We too are drawn by our sinfulness to things that look good but leave us feeling sick,
but God still calls us into a new birth,
into the chrysalis of baptism,
still recreates us and remakes us so that we show forth the splendor of God,
like the butterfly emerging to show the world the glory of God.
Two weeks ago, at our 10:30am worship service,
those of us who were gathered, sang as a congregation,
in the same room
for the first time in 14 months.
We sang with facemasks,
but we sang together
led by the organ
and I saw at least a couple people literally throw their head back to sing.
The very first thing we sang together were the words of the communion liturgy:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord,
Lord God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
A song of transformation.
Today, called here by Gods spirit we join this song of praise to God.
We join the Serephs, the prophets,
the apostles, the martyrs
and all our fathers and mothers in faith
as the song of the glory of God Father son and Holy Spirit sings us,
is born in us,
giving us rebirth.
In worship, in this meal, in Christ — we are being reborn.
Even as we are re-emerging into the world.
Some people say we will be forever scarred — like children who grew up in the great depression and lived through meager times and even as grandparents or great-grandparents, couldn’t bear to throw away jelly jars.
Some people think we will never shake hands or hug again. That human community has been fundamentally altered. And maybe that’s right.
But on the other hand, God has made us for relationship. We are hardwired for friendship and connection and embrace because we are made in the image of God who is eternal, unbounded love; a God always giving himself away, always reaching out, always creating possibilities.
And I believe we will keep emerging into the world, with God leading us and showing us new ways to reflect God’s glory, new ways to serve in the community, and new ways be the church.
I can’t wait to see how God leads us into the future as the Spirit fixes our hearts and eyes on Jesus who is lifted up on the cross so that God’s glory is poured out to all the earth bringing life.
So today we sing the song of praise: Holy, Holy Lord, Lord God of power and might Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Today we join the song of the baptized, as God’s spirit sends us out to show the world gods glory.
beloved children of God, we go together.
let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.