preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 11 June
2017, the First Sunday after Pentecost, by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that
day were Genesis 1:1–2:4a; Psalm 8; Matthew 28:16–20.
Sunday is the first Sunday after Pentecost to honor the Holy Trinity—the
Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.
of the trinity can never be completely understood or rationalized, there are
theologians saying trinity is clearly taught in the Scripture. To be honest, understanding
of all scriptural doctrine is by knowledge and by faith which comes through the
work of the Holy Spirit; therefore, it is appropriate that this mystery about
trinity is celebrated on the first Sunday after the Pentecost, when the
outpouring of the Holy Spirit first occurred.
Today I am
not going to cite scripture readings to illustrate the doctrine of trinity.
Instead, I would address the significance of Trinity to our faith and mission as
we have entered into the Pentecost season that marked the work of the church on
reflection on trinity I share today was related to my recent life encounter.
I planned to have a three-week’s
vacation this year. Together with Tong, we planned to go to our daughter’s
graduation in Houston and travel to a few cities in the States. After that I would
travel to Canada visiting my sister, her family and some friends. Life,
however, is never completely in our control. Three days before Tong and I were
to journey to the United States, we received a call from our family in the UK
telling us Tong’s father was critically ill. Tong then flew that night back
home and I flew the next day.
Thus within a few hours
after receiving the call, we have completely changed our vacation plan. Tong never
went to Amber’s graduation and stayed with his father throughout. I cancelled
the trip to Canada and the visits to various cities in the United States. As
for me, I would just make a brief round trip to Amber’s graduation after
visiting my father in law in the United Kingdom.
Looking back, we did make
the right decision. My father in law
passed away a few days after our visit. We then had another two weeks left to
arrange his funeral service. The next day after the funeral service, Tong and I
flew back to Hong Kong and resumed our work. Everything was completed within
the original three-week’s vacation. God is gracious. God made all things
happened in the right time.
In the first week when we
were in the UK, all family members were gathered to visit my father in law in
the hospital. We celebrated his 60th wedding anniversary by having a
small party in his ward. He was so happy that day. I would never forget the way
he looked at my mother in law that day. It was a look with deep love and
gratitude. In the same way, I saw my mother in law holding my father in law’s
hand tightly. I knew that she was worried inside and yet she joked with her
husband by saying ‘we are a silly couple’ . Their pure and simple way of
interaction touched me deeply. When they were holding hands together, I felt
their strong bonding and their unity. They reminded me of the marriage vow in
church weddings – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in
sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as we both shall live.
doctrine of trinity informs us the unity of God in trinity, I would say then
the faith of trinity is significant and meaningful when we are able to live a
life in unity with someone. My mother and father in law have shown me a life of
unity. They shared time of joy and sadness. They went through good times and
bad times together in the past 60 years. They worked together to raise their
children by sacrificing themselves. They were both willing to live a simple
life and to work hard so that they could offer the best to their children.
Unlike modern married couples who will go out for dating and have some sort of
romance, they did not do things like that. But every day they shared life
together and accompanied each other. The
mystery of unity in trinity is the strong bonding and relationship between the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
This deep connection is beyond words and deeds.
When I was preparing the
funeral service for my father in law, I asked my sister in law the memorable
moments she had with her father. She remembered when she was small, she would sit
next to her dad when he was driving. Because her dad was not good in English
and was not so confident in reading the road signs, so when she was in the car,
she would say to her father, ‘I am here with you and you will be alright. Don’t
worry dad.’ She said she felt her dad was relaxed after hearing her assurance.
Even though she was very young at that time, she felt strongly the importance
of her presence to her father. Although she was little, the power of her
presence and her company was strong. No wonder when her dad passed away, she
suggested to put her doll inside his coffin for company. She said the doll would be like a guardian
angel that would make her dad feel safe and peaceful. She did not want her dad
to be afraid. It’s a lovely thought and it showed her deep love to her dad.
Before my father in law passed away, my sister in law took extended leave to take
care of him.
From the loving interaction
of my sister in law with her father, it tells another aspect of truth and
mystery about trinity. That is equal relationship. The Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit are three but they are interdependent. They are three and yet
equal. God of Trinity lives together in equality. The little girl who offered
company for her dad when he was driving revealed to us in love and unity, there
is no strong or weak, big or small. They are all equal. They can help and
support each other.
In God’s divine creation,
all are equal and considered good. The trinity in equality enlightens us to
treat each other with respect. We should never discriminate against or look
down upon anyone who are smaller or weaker than us. We should never look down upon ourselves too.
We are all created in God’s holy image and are given the ability to live and
serve to bring honour and glory to God who made us and lives in us. And it’s not just people, The international
celebration of World Environment Day on 5 June every year reminds us that we
are called as God’s people and Church to take up the mission of caring for the
earth, as expressed in the Genesis creation story and the beautiful poem in Psalm
Trinity Sunday is to celebrate God of unity, his relational nature and
to affirm God’s connectedness in all things. The God of Trinity reminds us our mission as church to live a life of
unity, to be well connected with other people and God’s creation in love with
The church, regarded as the body of Christ, a
community gathered by Jesus’ disciples has been commissioned to go to the world
– make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, the
Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have
commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.
The most important teaching
of Jesus is to love God, to love our neighbour as ourselves. Jesus did not only
teach us by words but by deeds. He welcomed sinners. Jesus taught us to be
united with those who are socially rejected. Today, these may be the mentally
ill or mentally challenged, ex-prisoners, sex workers, HIV AIDs carrier,
refugees and sexual minorities.
Jesus asked us to build a
loving community. He taught us to love our neighbours. This afternoon at 1 pm
our Second Sunday workshop will touch on this topic – to love our neighbour of
different faiths. In the name of religion, there are many senseless terrorist
attacks all over the world. The teaching on loving our neighbour of different
religious faiths is timely for us. I hope you will join us. Thank you Bruce and
Joram for preparing and leading the session this afternoon. They are both
working in a ministry related to peace and inter-faith dialogue.
Last week we celebrated Pentecost Sunday, Pastor Maggie shared about – Calm, Spirit Come and Stay. She reminded us
to allow the Pentecost spirit stay in us.
God of Trinity is about unity. It is about relating one another in love.
It is about life that shared with love.
May the Pentecost spirit lead
us and strengthen us to engage in the Pentecost Mission of unity and love on our
way ahead. Amen.