Sermon: Holy Trinity. Sunday June 7, 2020. St Petri
2 Corinthians 13 11-1411 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
“What you doin’?”
These were the words I most remember from Terrence Floyd’s speech to the crowd in Minneapolis this week as he urged the destruction and violence to stop in the aftermath of his brother, George’s murder at the hands of the police.
“What you doin’?” Terrence asked. “’What you doin’ is not helping and not wanted” was his message to the looters and destroyers.
You might ask, “What we doin’” as we face these times.
Paul starts off strong.
“Greet one another with a holy kiss….. love and peace be with you…”
Seems so out of reach or out of touch in this moment! Some would say, so out of touch.
Love and peace seem to have disappeared. ‘Greetings’ seem to inflicted in unholy tear gas, rubber bullets and the directive to dominate.
What a mess. Our hearts go out to the family of George Floyd and to the tens of thousands of everyday people who have peacefully protested against this injustice.
All of this may be a largely US story, but as we know, we have a similar kind of long story of injustice that has caused and still causes the same kind of pain in our country.
So, “What’ we Christians doin’?”
As far as we know there were no rubber bullets and tear gas in Corinth, but there were vicious hurtful words and excluding behaviour in the church aimed at Paul.
This church had story of discrediting Paul on several fronts, and they even got personal. Their kiss of greeting had often been more like the kiss of a betrayer.
And yet, he writes to them again. Through the smoke and conflict, Paul calls them to something new, something better, something holy and good among them and in him.
He calls them to new community, not mere old community, to divine community, not their broken one; Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the One God and yet Three – totally new revelation of who God is in all the troubled history of his people and the world up to this point.
I want to call you there today.
Paul says, they and we still belong to this community despite the trouble and forced isolation. This makes them and us useful and helpful and valuable to the world and its suffering.
Paul knows this new community and what belonging to this community asks of him and them.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. (1:3-5)
We are comforted to comfort. This Holy Trinity Community and those adopted into it by baptism, knows suffering and comfort and shares it. Paul knows he shares his suffering with Jesus. Jesus is in this suffering and with Paul in this suffering.
Same now; for the innocent and the guilty, the black and the white, the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ in the US and here.
And this new community God is always bringing good out of bad, healing out of damage, hope out of despair:
6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance. (1:6)
Paul’s distress is all for their comfortable place in this Holy Community. His life under pressure is for their peaceful home in Jesus (salvation).
Hasty blaming and condemning of others is impatient giving up on who you are and who God is. They and we can find the new in the old, and help the world be new.
This is the Spirit’s call now friends: patient endurance. It is a call for those who have lived with the injustice of racism all their lives, and those who need to listen and learn to do better – there and here.
Paul knows the pressure. He knows what it is to feel like the end is surely near. Maybe this is what you feel at this time as you watch riots on the Whitehouse lawn?
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. (1:8)
Sounds pretty rough! Many in our community know what he is talking about: a serious diagnosis, a major conflict, a major loss…..
But, like the warm embrace of coming home, there is hope and usefulness and meaning in what has happened. Paul says;
“… this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead”.
Reliance. This time and all hard times raise the reality of reliance – on who do you rely?
Here’s what Paul relies on.
Resurrection. Death is dead. Suffering does not need to lead to it for those who learn from their suffering to rely on Father, Son and Spirit for life.
Reliance comes from Resurrection. Pauls says it;
“…we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself”. (4:14)
That is our hope at this time, friends. Resurrection. It always is. It is for all the citizens of this holy Trinity/Holy Community: – black and white, rich and poor, slave and free, Jew and Gentile.
That is where Paul ends up. That is our text
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
So, ‘What you doin’?’
Living with three gifts from the One in Three for you today:
Grace: undeserved, unearned, divine forgiveness, healing and acceptance into a community beyond me and you and this world; a community that is right here in this world but not of this world, not distant on some other planet or universe but hidden here but spoken by words and done by actions of those who hear him speaking.
Love – self sacrificing love; love that gives itself away at great personal cost to another – for the other – like Terrence Floyd, asking looters to stop looting and destroyers to stop destroying for the sake of the family and the community.
Fellowship: belonging, safe place, safe conversations, time to listen, time to learn, space to rest, time to eat and sing and enjoy the good things with Jesus in your life and in your home.
These three gifts from the One in Three. Blessing on you no matter what you feel or what happens.
Go ahead. These gifts given require us to do some livin’.
We do these:
16 Therefore we do not lose heart….. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (4:16-17).
18 …..we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.(4:18). We look to the words of Father, Son and Spirit which reveal what is unseen to most but known by the eyes of faith in Jesus.
In another way;
7 …… we live by faith, not by sight. (5:7)
11 Since, then, we know what it is to respect the Lord, we try to persuade others. (5:11)
We don’t lose heart. We fix our focus on the word of God and rely on his promises of new community, new now and new future for the world, and we live persuasively,
14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…. We live for him who died for them all and was raised again.
What we doin’?
Livin’ in the grace love and community of the resurrection community for the sake of our community.
14 …..the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.