A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 19 June 2011 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Genesis 1:1-2:4a; Psalm 8 and 2 Corinthians 13:11-13.
Dear God of Trinity, we gather in your name.
God, the Creator, we give you thanks for your wonderful creation and for your generosity to share it with us.
God, the redeemer, we thank you for your loving presence in our midst, sharing your words and deeds with us.
God the sustainer, we thank for your wisdom in nurturin our lives. In the unity of the triune God, we ask for your guidance. Lead us to know you more and to love you more dearly.
Oh Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my spirit be acceptable and pleasing to You. Amen.
Have you ever heard of a story that really struck you? I have a few in my life and I would like to share one with you today.
A lady, let’s call her Grace, was a single child in her family. When she was about forty years old, her 65 years old father told her that he had had a daughter with another woman in an extra-marital relationship. Grace’s father wished to find this lost daughter. With the request from her father, she took action to help his father by approaching the Red Cross.
Amazingly, Grace and the Red Cross were successful in finding his father’s daughter. Let’s call this other daughter of Grace’s father, Susan. When Grace and Susan met, the first thing they agreed to do was to go for a DNA test. When Grace was asked by Susan if she wanted to do the test as well, Grace stopped and thought a bit. Eventually she agreed to do so.
But then another amazing thing happened. When the DNA test was reported, it proved that Susan was the biological daughter of Grace’s father while Grace was not! You can imagine how astonishing it was to Grace! Grace cried a little bit of course after hearing this shocking news.
But after a while, she felt very thankful. She was grateful to her parents who, were not her biological parents and did not have any blood relation to her, had treated her like their own child. She realized how blessed she had been by the Holy One who had taken care of her, even though her biological parents gave her up and did not nurture her. There were still some people right there to take care of her. Moreover, she was able to grow up in a home with parents loving and caring for her.
While Grace was contented and live with thanksgiving and inner peace, Susan, the biological daughter of Grace’s father, did not respond so positively. The reconnection with her biological father did not bring her much joy. She found her life so broken and shattered. She is unhappy with what she had gone through in life.
Why do they have this difference? What make them different?
Today is both Father’s Day, and (according to the Christian Church liturgical tradition) Trinity Sunday.
On Trinity Sunday, the Christian Church ponders with joy and thanksgiving what the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have done to accomplish the salvation of sinful humanity. It is celebrated in remembrance how Christians should respond to the love God has shown us, praising Him and giving Him glory. We remember the Father as our Creator, the Son as our Savior and the Holy Spirit as our Comforter.
The story of Grace and Susan leads me to think of our connection with our God the Father who is regarded as the Creator who created all things on earth. The concept “Father” is used as an image of God, the Creator. In Genesis 1 to 2, God’s creation has been regarded as good. So logically, we being part of God’s creation means that we are good too!
In Psalm 8, the psalmist affirms the status of human beings and how God loves and cares for humanity. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortal that you care for them?”
The Psalmist affirms the sovereignty of God and praised the Lord: “How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”
God the Father, the Creator of the universe, has a tender and loving character. God the Father is not one to control, certainly not like the authoritative and violent father found in many homes. God the Father is caring and does not try to control others and dominate.
Therefore, all human beings have no reason to look down upon themselves or each other. No one has the right to despise us. No one has the right to take away our dignity. No one has the right to take away our God-given love and joy. As human beings we are worthy of God’s love and respect because we are all God’s good creation and His beloved children.
The mystery of God in trinity inspires us to lead full lives. God created the world and gave us lives that are precious. Jesus has redeemed us to a new and an abundant life, the Holy Spirit has strengthened us with hope.
We live in a world that is full of chaos and brokenness. Many people from war zones are seeking asylum elsewhere. Millions of workers working hard in their home countries or overseas are still suffering from poverty. Thousands and thousands of women, children and elderly people are suffering from domestic violence. The list of brokenness could be endless…
How about ourselves, friends? Our lives could be shattered in one way or another. Our hearts may have been broken for different reasons. How do we deal with our brokenness? How can we be healed by God of Trinity? How can we lead a life of hope, joy and peace as promised by Jesus and blessed by the Holy Spirit?
If we focus on the darkness of the world and brokenness of lives, we have no hope. But if we are able to engage our life in God of unity and in His wholeness, we are able to face our broken lives and our broken world.
We will have a different life if we accept and embrace all brokenness and, then move on and give thanks to God and people who have loved us and nurtured us in good times and bad times.
As human beings, it is very true that when our lives are so shattered and broken, it is difficult for us to praise and to be thankful. But from the experience of Grace, a life of thanksgiving, we see that even under such circumstances one can rejoice. Although she does not claim to be a Christian, I see the spirit of Christ in her. She is humble enough to connect with the Holy Other, the mother earth. She was grateful and greatly appreciated her father’s unconditional love to her although she was not his biological daughter. She recognizes how blessed she was by the Creator.
One thing that is fundamental for us to understand and remember is: We are holy and good in the eyes of God. We need to have a strong faith so that we can be healed by the love of God if we open up ourselves to the Lord. In the triune God, three but One, has affirmed one important truth: we are able to restore our wholeness by acknowledging our brokenness and our sense of separation. This is a great healing process. By the grace of God, we take the courage to take these broken pieces back to our inner being and embrace them to be part of us. With a thankful hearts and forgiving spirit, we may be able to discover how this brokenness has strengthened us. Have you ever thought of brokenness as being part of the wholeness? Jesus Christ, in his broken body, made the world join together as one and made reconciliation possible.
Trinity Sunday is to celebrate God of unity. In this unity, God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal and closely connected. God of Trinity indicated God’s essence of being in relationship. Therefore, keeping a close relationship with other people especially our loved ones and with ourselves is vital. Very often, brokenness and bitterness in life come from our self rejection and separation with other people. We need to embrace ourselves and fully accept as who we are. As community of Christ, let us hold on to one another. Let us remain connected with God and encourage each other to live a life of wholeness, with forgiveness and thankful hearts.
To live a life from brokenness to wholeness, I would like to share with you the final greetings and benediction given by Apostle Paul to the Church of Corinthians, taken from 2 Corinthians 13:11-13.
“Dear friends, put things in order, listen to my appeal, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you.”
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you. Amen.