Fr. Bill Carroll – Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus’ love is bubbling over.
Jesus’ love is bubbling over.
Jesus’ love is bubbling over.

Today, for Trinity Sunday, I’m starting with a song our children used to sing in Sunday School. It’s not one of the great hymns of the faith, but it has something to teach us about the Trinity. Now, our children learned it at Holy Trinity Parish in Clemson, South Carolina, where Tracey served for three years as an assisting priest. Both of our kids were born there.

It is an incredibly simple song. And part of what’s fun about it (at least the way we learned it) is that, as you sing the repeated verses, the words are replaced with silly sounds, until all there’s left are the hand motions. And, by the end, all you’re singing together is: “OOO—AH—SHH—Wee” with <clap-clap-clap-clap> where the “Alleluia!” should be at the end. Both of our kids love that song. And we’ve taught it to many others over the years in the various congregations we’ve served. In fact, our daughter may be teaching it right now to some little kids at the camp where she’s working.

And I mention it to you this morning, because I think we often treat the Trinity like it is some kind of terribly hard mystery involving some very bad math. And so, we babble about shamrocks, or bananas, or maybe ice and water and steam. (Maybe you’ve heard some of those.) But we don’t convince anybody, and we probably fall into heresy as we’re going along. Too often, when we try to preach about the Trinity, we create as many problems as we solve.

But what if, instead, the Trinity is all about is a series of relationships? What if, by his very nature, the one God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) just is a series of loving relationships, in which we have been “gracefully entangled.”

God is indeed a mystery, but he is a mystery the way that someone we love is a mystery. Our parents, our spouses, our children—they’re mysteries. So too are our closest friends. We’re even mysteries to ourselves. The more we learn about ourselves and the other people God puts in our lives (even the ones we’re closest to), the more we realize what we don’t know—and what we will never fully understand.

And yet, we are intimately acquainted with these people. We know them. We have come to know their character. Sometimes (not like what your broker will tell you on TV), we can predict future results based on past performance. But still, people can always surprise us. That’s what’s so wonderful about them. Because they’re free. They are capable of loving us and surprising us by what they happen to do. God is mysterious like that—only more so. God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. God’s ways are not our ways. God is sovereign love and freedom. God’s love rules the world.

And love and goodness like to spread themselves around. They like to be shared with another. As the Letter of James puts it, God is “the Father of lights, the giver of every good and perfect gift.” God is generous and merciful beyond measure—always giving us more than we could possibly receive. God is our Creator, who gives us our very selves. God is the Giver of life and love.

Before we ever existed—even before there was a world—within the Holy Trinity, God was already giving himself away. The Father gives all that he has (and all that he is) to the Son. The Father gives the Son all that makes God, God—except the Son is not the Father. And together, the two of them breathe forth yet a third, equally-divine Person—the Holy Spirit of love. (The same Holy Spirit that is in this room, and in each one of us.) And that Spirit is also God.

We catch a glimpse of this in our Gospel reading, where Jesus says, “All that the Father has is mine.” He goes on to describe the Spirit’s ministry in a similar way, when he says that the Spirit “will take what is mine and declare it to you.” Within the Trinity, the gifts are fully shared so that what belongs to the Father belongs to the Son. And what belongs to both of them belongs to the Holy Spirit. All of them are equal in what makes God, God. And what is shared is not just the teaching of Jesus, but far, far more. By giving us his Spirit, Jesus bestows his own personal presence (the presence of the living God inside us), drawing us deeper and deeper into him. In our lesson from Romans, Paul puts it this way: “God’s love has been poured into our hearts, through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

God is love. And since the very nature of love is sharing oneself with another, God’s love is bubbling over all the time. God is a never-ending wellspring of churning, burning love. God is crazy in love with us. Always and everywhere, God is giving himself away. God is, in fact, a bottomless well that gushes up. God is an ever-flowing stream of love. We can reject God, but we can’t stop God from loving us. That’s what the prophet Amos says about God’s justice. It flows down like a never-failing stream. That’s what Jesus says to the woman at the well. It’s what he tells her when she asks about the living water that he will give. In those who believe, he tells her, the Spirit of love becomes a stream welling up to eternal life.

In a vast, extravagant excess of love, God chooses to make the world and everyone in it, so that God may share God’s life with us. The love of God bubbles over, filling us with grace till we overflow. In the words of the twenty-third Psalm, our cup runneth over with God’s abundance. Even when we close our hearts and present an obstacle to God’s love (even when we reject God, and our hearts are hardened by sin), God’s love will find a way. God’s love keeps on flowing. Like water seeping to the lowest point in a basement, God’s love will find us where we are. No matter how far we sink, his powerful love finds a way to reach us. Along the way, he sends us saints and companions. He sends us brothers and sisters to show us his love. He sends us people filled with the Spirit of love to help us find our way.

In the Old Testament, again and again, God’s People reject his ways and spurn his love, but he never gives up on us. Instead, he calls us back into relationship. He calls us to turn our hearts back to him—and back to each other. And, in these last days (in these last days), he has sent us his own Son—to live and die as one of us—to pour out his life for us all.

As with our creation, so too our salvation comes as a gift. God redeems us, not because he has to, but because he wants to. It’s how he is faithful to himself. God is not willing to let his loving purpose be thwarted by our sin. Redemption is how God lives out his generous nature—always giving more than he has to, always giving us more than we deserve. Always seeking us out and saving us, especially when we are lost.

God redeems us for the very same reason he creates us, because he delights in us and wants to share his love with us. And so, in his goodness, he seeks us and saves us where we are—no matter where we are—no matter how low we go, or far we stray

Always and everywhere, God’s love is bubbling over. And we can run, but we can’t hide. In creation, God’s love is bubbling over. In Jesus and the Spirit, God’s loving is bubbling over. Because that’s how God rolls. That’s who God is.

Jesus’ love is bubbling over.