Sermon preached at St. Gregory’s, Deerfield, April 13, 2008

I’m behind on posting lots of things.  Here’s a sermon about sheep (Easter 4A, 2008):

Today’s gospel gives us two of three parable Jesus tells in the gospel of John about sheep, the third one being Jesus’ famous words about being the good shepherd who gives his life for the sheep..  It is likely that Jesus didn’t tell the stories right in a row like this.  He probably told them on separate occasions and John put them together because of their common theme (kind of like telling stories about great uncle Billy:  “oh and that reminds me of the time when he said this . . . “)

As Jesus told these parables, his listeners would probably have pictured a communal sheep pen in the village to which various flocks would be herded at night.  The shepherds would take turns being gatekeeper (perhaps using their own bodies as the gate while they slept across the opening) and then each shepherd would come and call out his own sheep (through the gate) with a call that the sheep had learned to recognize from him.

In these three parables about sheep, shepherds and pens, Jesus focuses on different parts of the image.  In the first parable, Jesus doesn’t identify himself with any particular part, but rather notes that true shepherds enter by the gate and don’t climb over the wall, while others–thieves and bandits–climb over the wall.  The sheep, he notes, recognize the shepherd’s voice and follow him.  He doesn’t at this point identify himself with the shepherd–he does quite explicitly a bit later–so he seems to be making a point about people other than himself.

The second parable identifies Jesus with the gate to the sheepfold.  If true shepherds enter only by the gate, then their entrance, he says, is through him.  In the first parable, he says that the sheep will not follow a stranger (i.e. the thieves and bandits who have climbed over the wall), but he does say in the second that the thief comes in “only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Some biblical scholars tell us that John is using these parables by Jesus to encourage the church in a very difficult time, a time when different teachings have arisen, a time when the church has been challenged and maligned by the Jewish communities of which they’d originally been a part, a time when things seem quite precarious and dangerous.

Today’s reading is preceding by the amazing story of Jesus healing the man born blind.  In it, the Pharisees are shown to be blind to Jesus’ true identity and blind to the very signs that he is working.  It ends with the lines,

“Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, ‘Surely we are not blind, are we?’ Jesus said to them, ‘If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, “We see”, your sin remains.”

The whole set of sheep and shepherd parables closes with parallel words:

Again the Jews were divided because of these words. Many of them were saying, ‘He has a demon and is out of his mind. Why listen to him?’ Others were saying, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’

A bible interpretation tip here:  if a passage has very similar phrases surrounding it–as in this one where we find two parallel references to blindness–one should consider that they are meant to highlight something.

I think John is trying to get us to understand something about us as a community and about the leadership of our communities.  The Pharisees–that is, the authorities–are blind, John tells us, so listen carefully to find out how we should see.

One of the overriding questions for these parables is “how do we know that our leaders and teachers come from God?”  “How do we see them?”  You’ll recognize them, Jesus says, because they will come into the community by the proper way:  through the gate.  They won’t sneak in, they won’t take shortcuts and they know their sheep.

Leadership in the Christian community takes various forms–or at least it should.  There is the obvious leadership of the bishop, as chief pastor, administrator, and bearer of the tradition.  There is that of the priests, essentially deputized by the bishop to teach, preach, offer pastoral care and administer the sacraments.  Those are pretty obvious.  But then there is the leadership of the deacon, who reminds the community and each of its members of their duty to serve the least and most easily forgotten around them.  There is the leadership of those whose lives seamlessly integrate Christ’s love and reconciliation wherever they are–at home, at work, even at church.  There are those whose wisdom helps the community stay on course when fear or confusion or wounds threaten to lead them astray.  There are those whose leadership is in the formation and education of all of the members of the community.  Christian leadership is meant–as we are reminded by Paul’s powerful metaphor of the church as a living body–to be diverse and varied, lay and ordained.

So how do we recognize that leadership as being that which Jesus would have for us?  First, those leaders don’t sneak in.  They don’t manipulate their way to prominence, nor do they hide their light under a bushel basket.  They are true to who they are and who God has called them to be, no more and no less.  Second, they don’t take shortcuts.  This is a hard one.  The work of love and reconciliation is hard, yet it cannot be sidestepped.  True leaders in our community are willing to stay in hard conversations, to hear all of the stories, to allow God to do God’s work in God’s time.  The shortcuts of manipulation and deception (or at least dissimulation), taking advantage of lack of communication, of using fear or other forms of pressure–none of these things are the ways that true shepherds enter a community.

Those first two characteristics find completion in the third:  the true shepherds know their sheep.  Shepherds who tend to use their sheep for wool rather than meat will spend years with their sheep.  The sheep learn to know their shepherd’s voices and the shepherd knows theirs.  Sneaking in will not lead to better knowledge, nor will taking shortcuts.  That comes only with time and entering into the relationships directly and honestly.  (You’ll note that the issue in the story of the healing of the blind man, that the Pharisees don’t know him or recognize him.)

The second parable that Jesus tells gives another key to leadership in our communities of faith.  Jesus is the gate, so the true leaders will enter through him.  But what does this mean?  Those who enter by the gate of Jesus will be like him (tall order, but what we’re all called to follow):  they will seek out and love those who are usually on the margins, they will offer words of encouragement to the struggling and words of challenge to the comfortable, they will serve rather than look to be the boss, they will relate to God with the trust of a child to a parent, they will offer healing and nourishment in surprising and abundant ways, they will seek God’s glory rather than their own.  Now, none of us is Jesus, and we will never fully  live up to those things.  We will see, however, glimpses of that gate in our various shepherds and a desire in them to be more and more like him.

So that’s all very nice and orderly.  I don’t usually write sermons with three point lists:  the three qualities of a godly life, five steps to forgiveness.  But here you are, the three qualities of Christian leadership, or conversely, how not to be a thief and a bandit:  don’t sneak in, don’t take shortcuts, make sure you know the sheep.

But there’s a wrinkle to all of this.  In what we’ve heard, we have a nice, safe sheepfold, walled all around, the one opening guarded by Jesus, kindly shepherds who call our names.  but there’s a catch.  All of this is to prepare the sheep to leave.

If the sheep were to spend all of their time in the pen, there would essentially be no need for shepherds.  The pens are to keep the sheep safe so that they can do something more important:  leave.

Leaving is tricky.  On the one had, the food and water are outside the sheepfold; on the other, most of the dangers are, too.  But this is what shepherds do, they lead their sheep out into a big world full of lovely green grass and sharp-toothed wolves, full of clear running streams and steep cliffs.

As Christians, most of us will not spend our lives inside the sheepfold, if we understand it to be the church.  Nor should we.  We are made to go out into the wide, wild world and face both its joys and its dangers.  The difference is that we have a good Shepherd who leads us, knows us and is willing to give all for us.

All the more reason to pay attention to who your shepherds are and to pay attention to what happens inside the fold.  Jesus implies at first that the sheep will not follow these thieves and bandits because the sheep don’t know their voices.  There is a danger, however.  The thieves enter, he says, to “steal and kill and destroy.”  They do damage inside the sheepfold so that the sheep cannot leave, the sheep cannot go out to find nourishment.

Another mark, then, of a thief and a bandit infiltrating the Christian community is that somehow the members of the community are not permitted or encouraged to leave the fold.  Strange, isn’t it?  But Jesus says, “Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. . . . I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  Staying in the sheepfold won’t do it.

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FTE Fellowships

Applications for FTE’s 2011-2012 academic year fellowships are available now on the FTE website. Fellowships are available for the following groups of students interested in ministry:

  • undergraduate students
  • entering seminary students
  • first year seminary students (who will be second year students in 2011-2012)
  • racially and ethnically underrepresented doctoral students.

If you meet these criteria, check out the FTE website for more information or for the applications.

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“We wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed”

A sermon preached by Stacy at St. Paul and the Redeemer on June 18, 2006:

“we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed”

So, as is often the case with the epistle reading, we have entered 2 Corinthians in the middle of a conversation—and a pretty intense one at that. Just before this passage, Paul has been making his case against severe critics in Corinth.  In the previous chapter, he uses lots of language about proclaiming the gospel message openly and making reference to the physical frailty of the messengers. His physical body suffers and even carries, he says, “the death of Jesus.”  He leads into today’s reading with this:

7For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, 18because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Then we heard today:

2For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling— 3if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. 4For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Life in this body is hard, Paul says.  He was, like any educated person in the ancient world, influenced by Greek philosophy—which was very distrustful of the body and the material world—and used philosophical categories and vocabulary in make his arguments.  At first, I thought that he had fallen into the distrust of the body and the material world that infused Greek thought, but on reading the following I realized that he is critiquing that very system:

. . . Paul speaks in the language of popular philosophy, from which the following images are drawn: death as a stripping away of the body (5:2-4); the body as a temporary dwelling (5:1, 4); and the body as a burden (5:4). Seneca taps the same tradition that Paul has at his disposal when he describes the Stoic’s attitude toward death:

But this heart is never more divine than when it reflects upon its mortality, and understands that man was born for the purpose of fulfilling his life, and that the body is not a permanent dwelling, but a sort of inn (with a brief sojourn at that) which is to be left behind when one perceives that one is a burden to the host.10

Yet, in spite of the shared metaphors concerning the finitude and difficulty of bodily existence, Paul resists with all his might the notion that for the sake of the soul’s liberation the body is finally to be put away like clippings of hair and fingernails. Notice in 5:4 his abhorrence of the goal of Stoic eschatology, a soul stripped naked. Death, Paul argues, is not the separation of the soul from the body but the further “bodying” of the soul in an eternal house not made with hands. (David Fredrickson, “Pentecost: Paul the Pastor in 2 Corinthians,” Word & World 11/2 (1991), p. 212)

Let’s dig into these metaphors a bit more then.  Why do we wear clothes and live in houses?  Both serve as protection from the elements, yes, but there’s more. Even when the climate allows for it, human beings like to decorate and define their space with clothes and houses.  Our clothing and our houses define us—for better or worse—they tell the world who we are or who we think we are or who we want to be.  They define our space:  here I am and this is where I live.  Letting people into our dwellings (and into our clothes for that matter) is a way of expressing intimacy and trust.

Paul has been celebrating the frailty of his own earthly dwelling, saying that it draws people’s attention not to him but to Jesus, the real power that dwells in him.  But he longs for and trusts that this is just a temporary state.

So all of this talk about clothes and dwellings leads me to make a confession. I watch makeover shows.  First there was “What Not to Wear”.  Then there was “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”  You know, the shows where some slob’s closet is unceremoniously dumped and a whole new wardrobe (and makeup and hair and more) is offered. The process of watching some woman who’s hopelessly caught in the 80’s or a guy who lives in oversized t-shirts and baggy sweats be transformed into someone who looks classy and put together is somehow compelling to me. Now I’m hooked.

What is it about those shows?  These folks certainly are living in pretty shabby earthly tents.  The people around them give testimony to the dwelling (of their clothes) not expressing who they are or sending mixed messages about what they want.  One of the things that the “candidates” often worry about at the beginning is that somehow they will forfeit their identity, lose their uniqueness, get stuffed into someone else’s idea of style and beauty.  They want to be comfortable; they think they look just fine.  Most of the time, however—and I know that these things are heavily edited and if there are failures we probably won’t see them—but most of the time, the person made over will say at the end that he or she feels more comfortable, more beautiful, more fully themselves now that the clothes fit properly and are the right color and style.  The outside now reflects the inside.  The outside now proclaims grace and confidence and fun and maturity and whatever else we long for the world to know about us.

So will there be clothes in heaven?  Or houses?  I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s Paul’s point.  Whatever his physical ailment, he struggled with his body.  Yet he knew it to be an important, even essential part of his witness to Jesus Christ and his transforming power.  The weakness of his body was essential to that witness.  But when the witness was no longer necessary, once that body was left behind, he knew that he would be clothed in something else, something similar but transformed.  He didn’t hate the body; he longed for it to be more, for it to be transformed into its own perfection.  I love that line I read earlier: the soul would be even further “bodied.”

It seems to me that Jesus’ parables reflect the same sense that Paul is expressing, that the visible, the obvious, the physical, the world around us and our very bodies are a sign, but only a pale or ineffectual sign of what is to come. The seed is housed in the earth when it is planted.  The seed itself is a dwelling, an earthly dwelling for the plant that is to come.  And yet the final outcome of that seed is a plant with stalk and leaves that themselves clothe, even more extravagantly the same seed the dwelt in the ground.

The parable of the mustard seed goes even further.  One of the things we don’t often realize with this parable is that it’s a joke.  The mustard bush as we know it is not the “greatest of all shrubs.  Have you ever seen a picture of it?  Birds can’t make their nests in its branches, not the way we know it.  So this tiny mustard seed is dwells in the ground, grows and is reclothed as a bush , a powerful transformation in itself, but then Jesus says that in the Kingdom of God this pathetic little shrub is able to do things we’d never believe.

There’s a still further tie to Paul’s musing on being clothed and unclothed, on dwellings made with hands and not and to Jesus’ riddles about secrets hidden in simple packages.  Today is, for many, the feast of Corpus Christi, a day commemorating the institution of the Holy Eucharist.  The original idea was to be able to celebrate the Sacrament outside of the bittersweet, solemn tone of Holy Week.  It can call up visions of monstrances and way too much incense (is that possible?) and distance between the sacrament and the people, but I found even as we celebrate Eucharist every week, I like the idea of celebrating that gift.

What is that we believe about the Eucharist? (BCP 859)

Q.  What is the outward and visible sign in the Eucharist?

A.  The outward and visible sign in the Eucharist is bread and wine, give and received according to Christ’s command.

Q.  What is the inward and spiritual grace given in the Eucharist?

A.  The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ give to his people, and received by faith.

Q.  What are the benefits which we receive in the Lord’s Supper?

A.  The benefits we receive are the forgiveness of our sins, the strengthening of our union with Christ and one another, and the foretaste of the heavenly banquet which is our nourishment in eternal life.

I love the Eucharist, but really, the bread and the wine certainly don’t look or taste like a banquet.  We eat this bread and share the cup knowing that they are like the mustard seed, hiding a reality beyond what we can even imagine—just as we are to look at each other and within our lumpy bodies and cranky souls see Christ waiting to be revealed.

And so we return to Paul. In the Holy Eucharist, Christ is clothed in bread and wine, and, once eaten, takes up residence, makes a dwelling within his people, even as we long for a dwelling place freed from sin and pain and death.  We already are “a building from God, a house not made with hands.”  Here Christ dwells.  Just as he is clothed in simple bread and wine, so is he clothed in us.  Just as the seed holds possibilities unseen and unimagined, so, too, this community has within it possibilities for reconciliation and justice and love far beyond anything we could manage on our own.

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Engaging Religious Communities Abroad

Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: One Year Post-Cairo

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dirk Ficca, Executive Director, Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions

Eboo Patel, Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core

Afeefa Syeed, Senior Culture and Development Advisor, Asia and Middle East Bureaus, U.S. Agency for International Development

Moderated by Rachel Bronson, Vice President for Programs and Studies, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs

June 4, 2010 marks the first anniversary of President Obama’s speech at Cairo University, during which he outlined a path toward “a new beginning” with Muslim communities around the world. During his speech the President recognized the importance of engaging not only with governments but with economically and politically influential sectors of societies, including Muslim communities. It follows that the next steps will include a strategy to engage religious communities of all faiths in addressing pressing foreign policy challenges, and to build the institutional capacity to support it. The Chicago Council is particularly interested in the Administration’s follow-up to the Cairo speech given our recent task force report, Engaging Religious Communities Abroad: A New Imperative for U.S. Foreign Policy, which outlines specific policy recommendations towards such a strategy. Join us for an important conversation that will serve as both a one-year anniversary review of President Obama’s speech in Cairo and the Chicago presentation of The Chicago Council’s task force report. For more information, go to the website.

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Kyle Rader’s Trinity Sunday Sermon

Sermon for Brent House

Kyle Rader

May 30, 2010

Trinity Sunday

Texts: Prov. 8:1-4, 22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

We have this tradition at the Divinity School that for our last Wednesday lunch of the year, we have a barbeque outside, and we book a bluegrass band from downstate to provide music.  So we’re all sitting around on Wednesday eating and having a good time, and occasionally somebody got up and sang along with the band.  Towards the end, they started playing some old time religious songs.  A good half the people there weren’t religious, but they’re fun songs.  So they start playing “I’ll Fly Away.”  Now whether one is a Christian or not, whether or not one finds the theology of that hymn problematic, I consider it immoral and impious not to sing along with it.  When someone starts playing “I’ll Fly Away,” whether you’re in church or anywhere else, it is your categorical duty as a rational agent to sing and preferably to stomp your foot.  So I start singing, the woman next to me sang, and one of our cooks got up and sand with the band.  And then I looked around, and saw that we were the only ones.  It was a disgrace!  While the song is still going on, I catch a rather cynical and somewhat snide discussion from the end of my table.  One woman is complaining to another about how alienating the experience is, and how hymns like this are so individualist, and how they celebrate death and hate this world.  And that’s when I realized something about many of my colleagues, something I probably should have known long ago.  Namely, these people just have something wrong with them.  I should be more sensitive, of course.  Who knows what experiences this woman had with religion or churches or whatever that made this an alienating experience for her.

But she totally missed the point!  Now, to be fair, she was right.  American hymns of the generation typified by “I’ll Fly Away” do indeed tend to have an individual and other-worldly focus in their lyrics.  But first of all, what that means in her context might be quite different from the context in which other people sing them.  And second, in any hymn, the words are only the surface of what’s going on.  Singing the hymn, if it’s a good hymn anyway, is one’s way of either expressing or getting into an experience that is not expressible in words.  It’s how one gets caught up in a… you could call it a current or an energy, though neither is adequate.  It’s a certain reaction to one’s not entirely conscious awareness of the depth of things.  The words of the hymn are certainly part of it, as are the beliefs they express.  But one could find the words problematic, and yet fully sing the hymn.  Now this depth of the hymn may not present itself to our awareness every time we sing it.  Sometimes it’s more like rote repetition, sometimes just an enjoyable community or individual experience.  But it’s a practice that sets the conditions for something to appear, though the appearance can’t be forced.

I’d try to speak of this with greater clarity or at greater length, but I wasn’t lying when I said it can’t be expressed in words.  Across the street at school this would be very bad form, but it’s the honest truth that you either know what I’m talking about, or you don’t.  And if you don’t, and you want to, the only way is to sing hymns.  Just as the only way to find out what prayer is about is to pray.  Sing and pray with faith if you have it, and with openness if you don’t yet.  I figure I’m mostly preaching to the choir here, but it’s often the same if you want to understand so called secular activities.  I used to never understand running, at least if no one was chasing me.  I certainly understood the physical benefits of it, but since I’ve always been in good health and had a high metabolism, it was unfathomable to me that anyone would enjoy this.  If you’re not used to it, you start going, and then within a few minutes, your legs feel like led, your chest is burning, and your gasping for air, and then you’re sore for the next 48 hours.  And people claim to like this!  They claim that it gives them energy.  They say it’s an almost religious experience, and sometimes they drop the almost.

I confess, I thought they were lying until I started doing it a little over a month ago and by some miracle have managed to stick with it.  And it got more and more tolerable, with some ups and downs, and then last night for the first time, I think I had one of those runner’s highs.  And it was pretty sweet.  I never got dancing either, until I was in Germany two years ago, and I fell in with a group of Spaniards who persuaded me to go with them one night to—well, I wasn’t all that clear where we were going, but it turned out to be this club.  Now I was terror stricken.  This was not my scene, I didn’t know what to do.  But there was nothing to do except get into it, “just dance,” as Lady Gaga says.  Since you can’t actually hear anyone to talk to them, and standing there watching is boring, I decided I was going to fake it.  So I had a beer or two and started doing what everyone else was doing, and within a few songs, I had forgotten I was faking it.  And it actually was a religious experience, because it was like there was some sort of rupture in space-time or something, and the place was infused with this primal energy, and I recognized it, because it was very similar to what happens when you sing a good hymn, and I realized dancing in this club in Germany with a bunch of crazy Spaniards, that this was what Proverbs 8 was about.

“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….

then I was beside him, like a master worker;

and I was daily his delight,

rejoicing before him always,

rejoicing in the inhabited world

and delighting in the human race.”

So you see that there are places where this power, force, energy, dynamism, whatever you want to call it really, shows itself and we get caught up into it.  And I believe Proverbs here has given us the vital clue we need to know that this thing originates in the very life of God.  Wisdom is God’s delight, God’s rejoicing.  God’s being is ecstatic.  But note that it’s a creative rather than a destructive ecstasy.  It’s somehow both ecstatic and rational.  It measures.  It builds.

So the being of God is ecstatic delight.  And it’s ecstatic because it’s relational.  Traditional Christian exegesis identifies this figure of Wisdom with the Son and finds here in Proverbs a revelation of the Trinity.  I can’t quite get on board with that.  But we can certainly say that believing in the Trinity as revealed in the incarnation of Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit, we can look at Proverbs and find that it takes on a new resonance.  The delight of the life of God is the delight of the Father begetting the Son, and the Father and the Son sending the Holy Spirit.

Our confession of the Trinity is our fullest verbal expression of what we experience God to be.  It shows up unnamed in German dance clubs and lunchtime bluegrass concerts, unanticipated and usually unrecognized.  Here it has a name, and a face even, in Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, beheld though the medium the Holy Spirit in radiant darkness.  I say the confession of the Trinity, because I don’t mean just believing in it and occasionally thinking about it, but standing up every week and saying “We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen, and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, etc.”  Or perhaps I should use the words of our hymn and say the invocation of the Trinity.  But of course the words, or even the beliefs they express, are only the surface.  We live in an openness to the life of God that forms us into God’s likeness, into the likeness of the ecstatic delight that created us.

It does this by giving itself to us and drawing us into itself.  “Hope,” the apostle says, “does not disappoint us, for the love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.”  And that’s what this has all been driving at.  The love of God.  This rational ecstasy I’ve been talking about is love.  And maybe I should have just said so from the start.  The Holy Spirit is the love of the Father and the Son.  The Trinity is the love of God.  And this means that God is nothing other than the love of God.  No words or concepts can grasp it, our creeds and even our actions can only hint at it.  But what God is revealed to be, love, is all that God is, and what we are to become.

I said that the confession and invocation of the Trinity is the fullest naming of what God is.  And I think I’m right about that.  And like singing or running or dancing, it’s a practice that you have to actually do in order to understand.  But the only purpose of understanding it is to do it better.  And there is a little bit more to it than saying the creed. As part of that confession, if you want to understand the love of God, you have to actually love.  And you have to actually someone.  I can’t explain it any better than the greatest theologian of the church, St. Augustine of Hippo, so why bother trying.  He writes, and I ask you to pardon the gendered language:

“There you are, God is love.  Why should we go running round the heights of the heavens and the depths of the earth looking for him who is with us if only we should wish to be with him?  Let no one say ‘I don’t know what to love.’  Let him love his brother, and love that love; after all, he knows the love he loves with better than the brother he loves.  There now, he can already have God better known to him than his brother, certainly better known because more present, better known because more inward to him, better known because more sure.  Embrace love which is God, and embrace God with love.  This is the love which unites all the good angels and all the servants of God in a bond of holiness, conjoins us and them together, and subjoins us to itself.  And the more we are cured of the tumor of pride, the fuller we are of love.  And if a man is full of love, what is he full of but God?” (De trinitate VIII.11-12).

So that’s it then.  The Trinity is the love of God, and is the love with which we must love God by loving our neighbor.  There are plenty of details to be worked out, but this is a sermon, and not my dissertation.  And if you don’t get it yet, I’m not going to make you understand it.  I’m done.  Say the creed, sing the hymn, love your neighbor.  And then you’ll either get the Trinity, or you won’t.  Either way, you live in it, and will become it.  So glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.  Amen.

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