Wednesday, June 14, 2006

4th-century faith

Today in my sermon preparation I ran across this treasure of a hymn written by Gregory of Nazianzus. It is so ancient, yet it still sounds as if it could have been written in this century. It even has some "I-me, my-me" characteristics like the hymns popular today. It fascinates me that words written by such a different person from me in such a different time could write something that still resonates with my faith today. How's that for the work of the Holy Spirit!

"O Word of Truth! in devious paths
my wayward feet have trod;
I have not kept the day serene
I gave at morn to God.

And now 'tis night, and night within;
O God, the light hath fled!
I have not kept the vow I made
when morn its glories shed.

For clouds of gloom from nether world
obscured my upward way;
O Christ the Light, thy light bestow
and turn my night to day!"

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity is a true sayitanotherway topic, and this Sunday's festival gives us a perfect chance to talk about the Triune God again and again and again. For just about as long as the Christian faith has been around, people have been trying to articulate the Trinity--its nature, its personhood, its activity, its relationships. The challenge has been to say essentially the same thing a different way.

Each year I try to fight my hesitation and get revved up for this Sunday's challenge. I read up on how the Fathers described the Trinity; I pull out old seminary textbooks; I get scared that the old ghost of modalism will come haunting. How will I express the ineffable to the people in the pews if I can't do it for myself?

Then I wonder if I should focus more on using this festival to exalt and praise and give thanks to the Holy Trinity rather than trying to explain it. Will that do for proclamation? In fact, all our sermons should be based in teaching the Trinity, rather than just one a year. If we're doing our job as preachers, this doesn't have to be the one Sunday when we pull out the theological jargon and trinitarian doctrine. If we've properly addressed God in God's Three-ness and described God thus all along, this Sunday can serve more as the festival it is...a time to glory in God's holiness, to give ourselves back to God's own self-giving-ness.