Trinity Sunday 6-12-22 Sermon by The Rev. Jim Stickney

St. Alban’s Church June 12, 2022

Trinity Sunday Pastor Jim Stickney


“Do you want to know what goes in the core of the Trinity?  I will tell you.

In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs, and gives birth to the Son.

The Son laughs back at the Father, and gives birth to the Spirit.

The whole Trinity laughs, and gives birth to us.”


This whimsical theology was written by the 14th century Dominican preacher,

Meister Eckhart, whose daring writings caught the attention of the Inquisition.

Fortunately for him (or perhaps not) he happened to die before his trial started.


I have a whimsical speculation of my own — about the time-honored practice

of placing our recitation of the Nicene Creed right after the sermon. Now, most Sundays

this may not matter too much, but on Trinity Sunday the preacher may be liable

to fall into one of the many subtle heresies that arise from trying to articulate a mystery:

one God in three persons. So no matter which heresy I may seem to articulate,

soon we’ll all proclaim the Creed together and vigorously affirm our orthodox beliefs.


Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker: If Jesus is the answer, what is the question?

We may feel far removed from the questions that led to the teaching about the Trinity.

So: If the Trinity is the answer, then just what was the question? This theology

did not begin as some kind of abstract divine geometry. Where did it come from?


The first Christians grew up as Jews, insistent upon the basic insight that God was one.

Jews speak of God like this: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Yet the first Christians experienced that God was revealed in a completely new fashion

through the life and death and rising of Christ Jesus. Slowly and carefully,

these believers questioned their way through until they could speak of “God the Son,”

and understand that God was not divided, & yet was manifested in human form.

A later generation of Christian thinkers understood that the Holy Spirit (whose feast

we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost) also revealed the power of God’s love.


Now, we know some people who are “spirit” persons, who cultivate inspiration —

these are the poets and musicians, people who bring into existence new creations.

Other people are more like “Christ in action,” serving Jesus in the neighbor,

concerned with social justice, and working to help those on the margins.

Still others are the strong silent types, not talking much theology, but just living it.

These three spiritual types don’t always understand one another’s views,

but today, on Trinity Sunday, we can say that all three express a face (facet) of God.


Some people are very uneasy about sharing “what God is doing in my life”.

If you’re one one of them, “Rejoice! You are God the Creator’s strong silent types.”

Next, consider a title from the New Zealand Book of Common Prayer for Jesus:

“Pain-Bearer.” Jesus is the personal expression of a God who knows human pain.

He is the divine Pain-Bearer, and human pain-bearers find refuge and meaning in Jesus.


Lastly, Jesus promised to send an energy, a power more than just memory, a Spirit

unlimited by time and place, a Holy Spirit that works to overcome all human obstacles

of language and culture. These cultural differences, far from being suppressed,

are celebrated in the worship and witness of Christian communities around the world.


Human beings can know some things about God, not directly, but by a reasonable faith.

In our spiritual progress, we don’t proceed from the Father to the Son to the Spirit,

even though that’s the sequence in which we proclaim the sections of the Creed


The Creator is opaque to us, the least able to be perceived by the limited human mind.

Instead, we are first moved by the Spirit (in community, or family, or in beauty).

The Spirit’s task is to remind us of what Christ Jesus said and did.  And when we look

more closely at Christ’s words and deeds, we find Jesus wants us to meet “Abba.”


And we do — for a moment, briefly.  But humans can never endure too much divinity.

Something in us backs off from infinite love and power — we hide our faces.

We get distracted, or feel unworthy. So we need a human model — Christ Jesus.

And he in turn continues to send us the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate & Comfort.


Do you see the pattern?  When we consider one person of the Trinity for a while,

we soon find ourselves handed off to another divine person — and so on and on.

When we feel inspired and even ecstatic, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

When that inspiration leads to serving the neighbor, that’s what Jesus wants.

And after our work is done, we rest in quiet, “Alone with the great Unknown” —

which is a favorite phrase of mine for contemplating God the Creator.


Theologians used a Greek word for this pattern: Perichoresis: Trinity’s “round dance”

from “peri” (as in perimeter), and choresis (as in choreography).

The theologian Elizabeth Johnson, in her book, “She Who Is”, enlivens

this unusual theological word “perichoresis” with a compelling image:


A divine round dance modeled on the rhythmic, predictable motions of a country folk dance 

[is] one way to portray the mutual indwelling and encircling of God’s holy mystery.

I have one final suggestion for contemplating the community of the Holy Trinity —

by looking closely at the little prepositions we use in our Eucharistic Prayer.

We address our community’s prayer TO God the Father, THROUGH Christ Jesus,

IN the Holy Spirit. Notice these prepositions at the end of the Eucharistic prayer:


All this we ask THROUGH your Son Jesus Christ. BY him and WITH him and IN him

IN the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father,

now and forever. Amen.


I’m going to conclude this sermon on Trinity Sunday in the same way I started —

with that brief reflection of Meister Eckhart from the 14th century:


“Do you want to know what goes in the core of the Trinity?  I will tell you.

In the core of the Trinity, the Father laughs, and gives birth to the Son.

The Son laughs back at the Father, and gives birth to the Spirit.

The whole Trinity laughs, and gives birth to us.”














(gets around objection of crucifixion as divine child abuse)