The Way We Experience God

Posted in christian, Faith, homily, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Rev. Martha on May 19, 2016

Holy Trinity, 5-22-16, John 17:12-15, Romans 5: 1-5, Ps 8: 4-9, Proverbs 8: 22-31


This celebration of The Holy Trinity has never been something I really looked forward to, mostly because I have never heard an explanation for the doctrine of The Holy Trinity that really satisfied me. It has always been a mystery for me.  It has been like wandering in a big dark cave with a little flashlight.


These days, the bookshelves are increasing filled with books which not only don’t explain the doctrine, but instead point out the difficulties or fallacies the author finds in it. They find some example of how The Holy Trinity seems to be self contradictory, or seems to have gaps in understanding.  I come away thinking either it’s just too deep for my brain, or else it is an elaborate excuse for not understanding God at all.  Then, people ask me to explain it.  So I avoid the question by preaching on the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.  At least with that, I’m on really solid ground!


But this past week I read something that made sense, so I want to share it with you. John Foley, a Jesuit, wrote this: “…the Triune God is not some kind of brainy speculation by scholars. It is simply the way we experience God in the world.  Christian living is the Trinity in action.”


I work with a young mother whose parenting style I really admire. She and her husband just came back from a week in Disneyland with their 5 year old daughter.   She has high expectations of this little girl, and teaches her very traditional values of respect and obedience.  But she deeply loves the child and is very attentive to her; she is lavish in her praise and rewards for good behavior.  This mother enormously enjoyed the week in Disneyland because she saw it through her child’s eyes.  She was not concerned with how Disney designed or constructed the place, or with the reality of the Disney stories or characters.  Instead her eyes were open to the charm of the buildings, her daughter’s delight in meeting the characters, the details of the presentation, and the wonder of it all.


From that perspective, I ask you, what is wrong with finding a way to express how we experience God in our daily lives, without focusing on what we don’t yet understand about Divinity or without trying to put some rigid human imprint on God? In fact, isn’t it very right to take great delight in how God creates a myriad of ways for us to experience and rejoice in divine love, grace, mercy, and companionship?  Isn’t it exactly right to fill ourselves with the experiences of God as God comes to us, and then have that fullness to take into our needy world?


Someone once wrote that God is not like a blind date, someone we might wisely be a little guarded with. With God, there’s no need for precautions to safeguard ourselves.  We do not have to arrange a time and place to meet; we don’t have to struggle to make ourselves more attractive than we think we are.  We don’t have to find a dating service to test us and find someone “compatible”.  God is never darkness, always pure love, and finds us beautiful from the moment our first cells are created.  God is available 24/7/365, never on vacation, never holds a grudge and always forgives us.  We can argue with God, because God is always right and patient with us.  God will never stomp away, disgusted with us, wanting to leave us for someone else.  How do we know this?  By the way God self-reveals to us – in our experience and in the experiences written down in scripture.  We share the miracles we experience and our revelations of God with others, and we discover that God is forever finding the perfect way to reveal who the “Great I AM” is at any moment.


That is exactly what our scriptures tell us today. Proverbs presents Wisdom as a woman, with God from before the creation of the earth, who was God’s craftsman (participating in the act of creation).  Wisdom is God’s delight, and who delighted in being with God, and who found delight in the people that God made.  Meditate on that one!!   This is not your old stogy idea of Trinity, but draws an image of a God full to the brim of joy and creativity, of delight and companionship, who gives us the best and the most in our world.  If you read the rest of that chapter in Proverbs, you find the Wisdom of God calling to us.  She reaches out, ready and able to teach us, to give us understanding, and to fill us with her treasures.  That may not be what you’ve heard in some Trinity Sunday homilies, but I beg you – read it again and take in the deep, deep love and longing that God has for us.


The Psalm is a reflection on the works of God we see around us and how God self-reveals in our world. Who are we that God should be aware of us?  Yet God made us little less than gods, and allows us to rule over his creation.  We are not puppets or toys; we are “of” God.


John speaks of how God guides us and gives us direction and understanding. In today’s language, we will get the memos, we are in the loop, we get the word straight from the top.  There are no barriers between us and administration, we are valued, we are part of the family, and we will receive an inheritance.


In Romans, Paul says this in a more tradition way. He reminds us that God has chosen to free us from sin and guilt, that we are in peace, not contention, with God, and faith brings us grace and hope.  Like Paul, we can experience the love of God poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.  God proved this love through Christ’s death on the cross even while we were not yet willing to trust in God’s love.  Now, forever changed by this Love, we boast of God, whatever our circumstances, because the hope God gives never disappoints.


All of these writings reveal God in different ways, and your experience of God may be different still. But the love and goodness of God are consistent through all the ways God is revealed.  The more we open our eyes, the more we see of God in our world, despite the evil that God allows for the time being.  So if we experience the revelation of God in our world, the next logical question is, “Does the world see God revealed through us?” That, my friends is where the celebration of the Holy Trinity ultimately leads us.

May 31, 2015 Homily on the Holy Trinity at Holy Trinity Parish

Posted in Called, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, homily, religion, scripture, Spirit, Word by Fr Joe R on May 31, 2015

Fr Tony’s homily at Holy Trinity Parish for Holy Trinity Sunday

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, ecclesiology, inspirational, religion, Spirit by Fr Joe R on June 15, 2014

June 15, 2014 Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture, Spirit by Fr Joe R on June 11, 2014

ht4Today is Trinity Sunday, the feast of the Holy Trinity. If we look back at the scriptures, the old testament really parallels the development of the human race. The history of Israel and its relationship with God is sometimes brutal and perhaps even cruel in a world that was harsh and fighting hard for survival. In early centuries, the atmosphere was tribal and the fight for survival was very strong. Even the idea of God was strong and harsh and demanding and even punishing. Worship meant sacrifice and service. Many worshiped multiple gods and practised strange cults.ht5 Reward and punishment was strong. God was a creator but he was demanding and to the Jews he was a jealous and demanding God wanting Israel’s love and trust and obedience. How often in the old testament do we see him forgiving and calling back and embracing his people. He gave the a code or book of laws or rules on how to live and get along. Yet all along they kept failing. In all this, he promised to send a Savior a chosen one who would be a redeemer, a sacrificial lamb in their parlance to bring all humanity to God.
When Jesus came, neither the world or the Jews recognized him for he was like any other man who had been born. But as we know he was different, he was the Son of God, yet God himself and a human being. His life was one of giving and sharing who he was, finding love and acceptance according to how each he met was prepared to meet him. His person was a draw, an enticement to love to share to listen. We know the brutality and evil that surrounded the times and how Jesus died and rose to give new life and a new age to the world. What he did was once for all, yet his presence remains even now in his church, in his believers. We personally meet him in his sacraments and in the first, Baptism, his love comes to us in his Spirit. This Holy Spirit is very special as it is the love that is between God the Father and the Son and is the third person of the Trinity. His Spirit is alive and active today in the church and in our lives in the world as we go about living and adapting to the rigors of our time. While evil and war, and violence still remain in the world today, we at least now have hope that some things can be resolved for we are sure God is with us.

ht3To celebrate the Trinity today, we celebrate what we know. We know God is a giver. He gave life in creation. He poured out his love and watchfulness, even as his creatures went their own way choosing to turn their backs to him. He gave his Son for a new beginning, a redemption and the Spirit to love and guide for the rest of time. His love never stops coming to this world regardless of what happens for his care is for each and every person. Beyond that, God is a mystery, a Trinity of persons, someone we know but will never understand in our earthly existence. Today we offer our worship and praise and thanksgiving.

Homily May 26, 2013 The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Posted in christian, Christianity, church events, inspirational, religion, scripture by Fr Joe R on May 21, 2013

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity. Being the name of our particular parish makes it a bit more relevant in our local celebration. The first thing to realize is the fact that the Trinity is a mystery and really is impenetrable to all of us who would like to solve it. It requires acceptance, while still allowing us glimpses of what it is and how it affects us. It took centuries and the Jewish experience to solidify the concept that there was only one God who was all-powerful and proactive in the world. With the coming of the redemption of the world and the realization that the redeemer was actually the Son of God who was gifted with all God had and of course co-equal. But the man Jesus Christ gave us the love shared in the relationship with God the Father personified in the Holy Spirit who was also gifted with all the Father and Son were gifted. This Spirit, this love dwells within us in a special way. It is God with us at all times helping us along the way. These three entities or persons in our meager understanding make up the Trinity, three persons, One God. This manifestation of who he is helps us understand God’s love and its centrality to our beliefs.

Trinity-Rublev-1410Remember when Jesus said there are two commandments, namely, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. In reality, if you think about it, if you don’t know and love yourself you are in trouble. But God steps in and the Spirit who is love fills us and is ever working on us to help us love our neighbor. Unfortunately, as human beings we can be flawed or disordered maybe too self-centered, too focused on the “I” instead of you. Just look at history and we see how often Christians couldn’t somehow love but instead turned their back on one another. The Spirit has not abandoned us, for the Spirit, God is always with us.

Sometimes it is really hard to love your neighbor, especially if he doesn’t want it. Rejection, scorn or whatever is not an excuse to not love, it means we should just move on until another time or place hopefully. As we know, the Spirit works when he wants, where he wants and how he wants. Being open to that love, to our neighbor’s love brings us God’s love in an abundance that we will never fully understand. God’s love is in everyone we meet. Really, can any of us give more than Jesus gave himself?

So, today is a day of praise. Praise for who God is and what He has given. He has given Himself and continues everyday with His Spirit enlivening us. Look inside yourself in your struggles and you’ll find that love.