Welcome to our worship service for Holy Trinity Sunday! Feel free to stay here to watch or head over to YouTube by clicking the banner on top of the video or the link immediately below it for the live chat. Otherwise, you can of course stay here and read along with the sermon manuscript that is included below.
The bulletin can be found here.
Thanks again for joining us!
Holy God, may your love, your Word, and your Spirit sing into our ears, that we be reminded of who we are and whose we are, empowering us to live in gratitude for all that you have done, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
So now do you all have your own masks? If you remember a few months ago before all this got started, I talked about how everyone was buying up the N95 masks and hoarding, fearing the worst. I guess they’re the ones laughing now, because now it seems like everyone is either buying, selling, or making their own masks. Or some are even getting creative and folding a t-shirt or their underwear and putting it on their faces (I’m not even kidding if you haven’t seen it already, look it up). I even have a couple of masks, which would have been unheard of just 3 months ago. Back then, I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing a mask because it I just don’t like them. I mean, they’re uncomfortable, they make it hard for us to be understood, and frankly, they look kinda dorky. So in my efforts to preserve my ever-fading coolness, I never would have thought that I would even consider wearing a mask, let alone checking the GAP website periodically to see when their stock of stylish masks has been replenished.
It’s weird too, because as an Asian guy, you’d think I’d be totally used to wearing a mask, growing up with somewhat of a ninja culture. But don’t forget I was born and raised here in the Lower Mainland, so my love for ninjas was actually overshadowed by my love for Ninja Turtles, whose masks cover their eyes, not their faces.
But have you noticed the growing rift between those who wear masks and those who don’t? It’s like people are being defined by it and then separated into different camps. And that is the problem. I admit that I’m part of that problem because I don’t like to wear masks and I may even have chuckled a bit under my breath at those who do. But now, it seems like things have gotten worse. I have friends who take to social media to openly put down and ridicule the usage of masks and other friends who openly condemn those who don’t and call them at best, irresponsible and at worst, murderers.
And so it’s like whatever camp you belong to tells others a lot about you. It’s about how much you care about the other and protect them from your germs by wearing, or about how macho and tough you are so you don’t need to. It’s about how aware you are about this health crisis or how aware you are about the conspiracy around it all. It’s about whether you side with the overworked health care system or with the dying economy.
It’s about whether you side with life… all life, or whether you side with how life used to be, revolving around the privileged few, set up to benefit only the most rich and affluent, feeding into the systemic problems of elitism and exclusion and greed.
Now you might be thinking, “aren’t we talking about masks, here?” And I admit that I started with the masks but I’m really talking about the racial climate that is happening right now in the States and around the world. I’m talking about the fuelling of hatred against an entire ethnicity because a select few members don’t agree with you. I’m talking about the blatant disregard of life of a man because his skin tone didn’t match yours. I’m talking about the brushing off of the inequality that so many people face just because they are of a different gender or orientation, cultural background, creed, social class or level of fitness that society that told us is preferable or even acceptable.
“Go, make disciples of all nations, and teach them everything that I have taught you.” Those were Jesus’ last words to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. And if I were being honest with you, they don’t seem like enough words. If I were one of the disciples there that day, I’d want more content, more instruction, more absolutes so I know exactly how to act and when and with who. It’s like what Jesus said was too vague and left too much room for interpretation or misinterpretation as it were.
Or was he?
I don’t know about the “make disciples” part, but teaching what Jesus taught us can be pretty clear if we just step back and think about what Jesus taught us. When we look at the gospels, what is the message that comes out loud and clear? What do we see when we measure up the expectations of the Messiah, a militant, powerful leader, against what we actually get in Jesus, a humble, caring shepherd that served the needs of others? How does Jesus act when he is faced with persecution, religious piety, and staunch legalism that stifles any kind of love or community?
I think we know that the answer is clear. It’s love.
But the question is, can we do that too? Can we be humble? Can we be caring? Can we at least acknowledge the needs of others and maybe do something about it out of love?
Friends, what happened to George Floyd was nothing short of evil. What is happening to silence the voices of those in pain is nothing short of evil. The rift that is happening between the so-called left and right is nothing short of what is currently making Jesus weep.
Today is Holy Trinity Sunday, the day that we hold up and marvel at the mystery of the God three-in-one and one-in-three. Last week was Pentecost Sunday, the day that we remember the unity in the Spirit in spite of language and cultural barriers. We are just out of the Easter season, when we are reminded of how God’s love is shown to all people¸ regardless of their patriotic allegiances, what side of national borders they came from, and certainly the size of their bank accounts.
We have to do better. We are called to do better. We are created in the image of God to love, to live in community and peace, to be united with each other as the Trinity is united, and to just do better.
I’m not talking about being able to pull random verses from the bible to justify whatever our actions may be. I’m not talking about us using our privilege to “teach” those less fortunate about how much better their lives can be if they just lived like we do. I’m not talking about making ourselves look and feel good by giving a homeless person bus tickets instead of money because they apparently can only use money for booze and drugs.
I’m talking about love. I’m talking about real community and relationship. I’m talking about seeing one another as actual children of God, created in God’s image just as we are, and learning to live with each other as joint-heirs with Christ, invited and welcomed to live in God’s kingdom forever.
Could you imagine a world like that? Can you imagine a world where we can live without labels and assumptions? Can you imagine a world where we can walk down the street free of the fear of being attacked or robbed? Can you imagine a world where we can see each other and be seen as images of God, that is, images of love and community as we see in the Trinity, as we work together without worry that we are being used or abused or manipulated for more power or money or prestige, but instead only for the good of all, that we might all know the abundant life of peace, harmony, and the good order in which God has created since the beginning.
I started this sermon talking about the masks that we’re supposed to wear going out and the pushback that people have been giving around it. Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church had a few words to say about that in his sermon for last week, Pentecost Sunday. About the masks he says, “they told us that you really putting it on not to save yourself. You’re not putting it on to protect yourself. The reason for wearing the facemask is that I wear it so I don’t spread anything to you, I wear it to protect you. It’s a small inconvenience, a little sacrifice, that actually may be a symbol of what it means to love” and he continues “if I make room for you and you make room for me, and if we would work together to create a society where there is room for all of God’s children, where everybody is loved, everybody is honoured, everybody is respected, and everybody is created as child of God… if we work together to build that kind of a society and don’t give up? Then love can save us all”
Imagine that. Love saving us all. Love in seeing each other as created in the image of God and respecting and honouring each other because of it. Love in learning the value that we all have even when we are different in culture, status, and opinion. Love in something as simple as wearing one of these masks and caring for our neighbour.
I know it’s tough to think that we’re charged by Jesus to go and teach all of this to others. But I’m willing to bet that we’re more equipped to do that than we think. This week for our photo challenge I asked you to send me pictures of team work and people relying on each other. This to me, gives us a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven as we are reminded that we are all created to be in relationship with each other and to work together as the one body of Christ. Here are the submissions:
On this Holy Trinity Sunday and this time after Pentecost, may we look forward into the future with hopes of justice and peace as we learn to live in unity with God and each other, as we are empowered by God’s love to be God’s people in God’s church and kingdom. Thanks be to God. Amen.