Sermons from St Faith's   

Talking of the Trinity

Paula O'Shaughnessy, Sunday, 22nd May, 2016

The holy can we comprehend this?  There is some understanding, through our faith, in our hearts – of what God's love means, within the Trinity. 

Today's reading from Paul's letter to the Roman's speaks of how the Holy Spirit has been poured into our hearts.  And how we need this.  At times, our hearts are hardened or are broken.  How much we need the Holy Spirit to bring warmth and life, and hope – renewing us.  Without this, we do not know life in God, and we cannot bring comfort and love to others.

The next few verses in Paul's letter, give more insight into the Holy Trinity:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die.  But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.  Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life.  But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

That we will be saved from the wrath of God by Christ...That is our faith and our hope.

The justification by faith – which Paul teaches, is understood to mean 'being in a right relationship with God'.  Being reconciled with God. 

This may not be everyone's understanding of 'justification by faith'.  For centuries, this was interpreted as something quite different.  Romans 3:28:

'A person is justified by faith, apart from the works of the law'

Traditional understanding was that the works of the law were actions such as keeping commandments and performing good works.

However, the more modern interpretation of justification by faith as 'Being in a right relationship with God', is something which we, as Christians seek – and hope to achieve.  This is a more helpful and positive understanding.  Being open to to the love of God, and being open to sharing that love with others.  If we open our hearts, our minds, and all our senses, then God's love may enter in. 

I've recently had the most life changing experiences – where I've had my eyes opened.  As some of you know, I've been studying modern languages at Manchester university.  There, I've met some of the loveliest young undergraduates.  It has been quite a humbling experience – learning how some of them do voluntary work with the homeless in Manchester and educating the poor people who live in the mountain areas of Romania (without the most basic amenities such as electricity). 

It has reminded me of the need to reopen my mind and heart.  That I don't have all the answers or necessarily know more because I am twice as old as these students.  A young girl described to me her experiences working with the homeless.  She had no hesitation in wanting to help, though she could easily have just spent time getting on with her own life as a student at the university.  For her, these were people who she could not walk away from.  Their lives so real, so broken.

Walking through the streets of Manchester, the growing homelessness problem is evident – encampments along the canal, as well as the increasing numbers of individuals on the pavements and in doorways.  I even saw a child (about 12 years old) under the railway bridge, alongside the adults.  I was compelled to give them more money than I normally would.  Where the wheelie bins actually have warning notices on telling people not to climb inside.  It is truly frightening – to see it all. 

In John's Gospel today, Jesus describes how the 'spirit of truth' will speak to the disciples and glorify him.  The glory of God and the spirit of truth are the hope for all people.  Where the world is indifferent to God or rejects God, yet God's love endures.  This is our faith.  Faith is so important, as are the acts of love, in God's name.  When our hearts soften and we embrace life in God – where we share, where we see the right path and take it.  We need to constantly be on the alert, to be open to God's love.  Traditional interpretation of 'justified by faith' – where 'works' do not matter, cannot be God's truth.  Let us pray for faith, courage and steadfastness in this.  To be in right relationship with God.

The sermons index page