30 May 2021 Trinity Sunday
Sermon preached by The Rev. Dr. Richard Burden
Below is a DRAFT text of the homily. It may vary considerably from the recorded version. Please excuse typos and grammatical errors, and do not cite without permission.
Here we are…once again…in this holy place.
And as I am basking in the wonder of this…I’m also wondering…to borrow a phrase from Kurt Vonnegut..who are we…this time…as we gather?
On one hand…standing here…looking at you all…it feels like no time at all has passed…it feels like any other summer Sunday…the welcome teams were here to greet familiar faces, the altar is set…the clergy are all wearing albs for Communion instead Morning Prayer cassock and surplice…the readings were live not on video, the hymns had a whole congregation to sing them…it’s all very familiar and…at the same time…something is different.
I mean, of course it feels different…we’ve been through some stuff since the last time we gathered here.
A pandemic, a long over-due intensified reckoning with the history of racism in this country, an insurrection in our nation’s capitol…none of which we are done with…We’ve learned a lot of new technology…we’ve adapted how we do things…over and over…of course we are not the same…as we were…we can’t be.
It’s also true that not all of us are here. Which is also typical for the Sunday of Memorial Day…but it’s not the same…Some of us are not here because you are watching from home, or from other parts of the world…some are not here because they have left, or moved…and some are not here because they have died…entered into a larger life…
Gratefully…there are new faces among us as well. Our family minister, who has been here for almost a year now, is finally getting to meet some of you face to face.
So, although there are plenty of familiar faces…there are also plenty of empty seats…
We simply cannot be the same after all that we have been through. We will not be the same.
And so I wonder…who are we this time? It’s a question I think we will be asking and discovering various answers to…for a long time.
And that’s good. Because what I’m realizing this week…what I’m acutely aware of…is that this is always true…Every time we step into this space…we both are and are not the same…week to week, month to month…even day to day and minute by minute. We are constantly changing…as individuals certainly…but also as a community…as the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ changes…all the time. Today is just one of those moments when I think we’re invited to be aware of it. When we’re invited into an awareness of the dynamism of all life.
Today we know we are different, because we’ve learned some things over the past year…like how interconnected we all are…even when we are not physically together…we’ve learned how much we depend upon each other…how much what we do and don’t do…ripples out and affects others…
We’ve learned that although we are all in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat…the impact of everything in the past year has landed harder on some more than others…Again, that’s always true…we are more deeply aware of that reality.
We’ve learned that our community is much larger than just whoever gathers here on Sunday…it’s larger than those who gathered food and prepped meals and those who received meals…larger than the ones who went on hikes, or joined online prayer services…The community that we are part of…and that we are called to serve is larger than Brookline or Boston or even the Commonwealth.
Our sense of community is larger and less abstract because of our interconnectivity…because we are all connected…in a variety of ways…to a much wider network…The individuals who gather here on Sundays, or watch online… know people who are unhoused, have friends in the hospital…some are or live with front line workers…some know people who have been lost to gun violence…some know someone in prison…or refugees…some have relatives in other parts of the country and the world where violence threatens and illness rages and vaccines are not as readily available…everyone…everyone here knows someone who as been sick with COVID, and some know people who have died…We are connected to the wider world because…any problem…any issue…that you can think of…if it’s not directly affecting you is affecting someone here, or someone they know or love…one or two degrees of separation.
In other words, week by week this community is made up of people who are brave and afraid…who are a doing great and who are suffering. Who are hopeful and doubtful. Who are eager to say, “here I am, send me,” and who are still wondering, “how can these things be?”
Every time we gather that’s true…but one week you might be the one doing well…and the next week you might be the one suffering. Every time we gather…this community is is different…we are different…and so it’s worth pausing and remembering and being open to constantly rediscovering who are we this time?
Communities only appear stable…when we walk in and see familiar faces week in and week out…it’s easy to believe that things are basically the same…but they’re not. Communities…like our own lives…are constantly in motion. There is a dynamism that creates and moves and redeems all life. We call it the Holy Trinity…which also both is and is not one thing. The Holy Trinity is also constantly in motion…Creator manifesting Christ sending the Spirit inspiring Christ returning to the Creator…The Trinity is always one thing…and forever the same…and never just one thing…and forever growing. It is always in motion and always bound together in love. And we are to be a mirror…and icon…of that.
So this morning, as we celebrate a renewed and we pray continuing presence in this space…let us rejoice that our ever-present and ever-moving God has brought us to this place. And let us renew our commitment to be agents and manifestation of God’s grace as we continue to discover who we are, and who God needs us to be today and every day.