Trinity Sermon 2008

[audio:Trinity Sermon – 2008.mp3]

Here’s something a little different.

I recorded the sermon this morning and you should be able to hear it if you click on the icon above. The underlying file is quite big (9MB) so this may be only for those who have broadband.

Does it work? Can you hear me? What do you think?


I’ve added the text of the sermon below for any not able to hear. Note that the text that I was preaching from is not the same as what I said. What you see below is the main argument but with the jokes and the conclusion missed out. (A bit like the Bible really….)


Increasingly, we find ourselves talking to atheists. This morning, I want to reflect on the kind of conversations that ensue.

The current round of publicity which Professor Dawkins attracts for his books is extraordinary.

It is a good thing of course. A good thing that we are talking to atheists. Church folk are so very often far too able to accept their own version of eternal truth without being challenged by other people’s ideas. So, I welcome dialogue. And I enjoy a good argument too.

However, the more I talk to atheists, the more I find myself agreeing with them. This is how the conversation goes.

I will be told by someone: “I cannot believe in God, you know, I’m an atheist. I don’t believe that God is up there. I don’t believe that God decides what will happen to us. I don’t believe that God will send people to hell when they die. I don’t believe in any of that at all. I don’t believe in God.”

I find myself nonplussed sometimes. For the assumption is being made that I worship an absurd tyrant in the sky. The assumption is that whoever is engaging me in this debate has seen through these obvious lies and come to some truth which I, a simple and foolish priest have yet to master.

There is rather a problem though. For I keep being told about a God whose existence is not credible and whom only a fool would worship. I firmly believe, that the God to whom atheists refuse to bow the knee is not worthy of worship anyway.

One thing strikes me about all of this on this, Trinity Sunday. The God whom atheists presume I worship is never described in relational terms. That God is never talked about as Trinity – one in three and three in one. Perhaps this is because it is a puzzle and a paradox, I don’t know. There are many puzzles worth trying to solve and much truth can be illuminated by paradox.

The point of the language which Christians use to describe God is that God is like a relationship. God is like an unfolding ever-changing loving relationship.

People often find this hard to grasp. Yet we find it readily understandable when two lovers become one, drawn into a common life by love itself. And that oneness unfolds and grows and deepens.

When we proclaim our belief in the Trinity, we proclaim that God is like a kind of loving. Not some static demagogue meddling in our affairs from a throne on high.

On this day, Trinity Sunday, we pause and think about the different ways in which we encounter the one, true God. The God whom we proclaim as Father, Son and Spirit – the Creator, the Redeemer and Sustainer.

I’ve already said that I meet a lot of atheists. I just cannot keep track of those who tell me proudly that they meet God on mountain tops or on little islands or out walking or on the golf course or something like that.

Well, I should hope so too. For nature is the great cathedral of the holy. Why shouldn’t people find God there? For the biblical writers and the saints through the ages have found God there.

We proclaim the Son too. In Jesus, we proclaim incarnation – the love of God in human form. In Jesus, we proclaim that the utterness of God’s commitment to a confusing and perplexing world. The incarnation itself tells us that God is a kind of loving.

And we proclaim the Spirit – the divine flame that burns inside everyone. The creativity, the source of love, that which drives us together. Where the Spirit is at work – peace breaks out, gentleness is the norm, and Love – eternal Love is at hand.


  1. Oooh, that was luvverly. It was all there.

  2. Peter says

    It works, we can hear you and we can draw a great deal from the words – Many thanks Kelvin.

  3. What an excellent idea.

    Clearly the Spirit is feeling very terpsichorian right now. We got there by a different route, but Rothesay’s semon also ended with God continuing to dance.

  4. Fiona says

    Great idea. Heard you loud and clear.! Hope you can repeat this again. Thanks

  5. Fiona – click on the icon a second time and he will!

  6. Alan Rumble says

    Thank you Kelvin.

  7. Ever the Engineer – I am intrigued with the technical setup you used to record the sermon.

  8. It was all done with prayer, Stewart.

  9. The Other Fiona says

    Very neat, Kelvin! =D This is great.

    Thank you for this. Listening now. : )

  10. Andrew says

    Thank you for your thought-provoking sermon. I am always glad to hear the description of a God that is intellectually acceptable, since I could not believe in any other kind.

    If I were not a Christian, I would be a first-class atheist, for they have so many good arguments on their side. The kind of God targeted by Dawkins & Co, absurd and cruel though he may be, was firmly believed in by most Christians through most ages. The crusades, the denial of scientific evidence, the inquisition, the forcible conversion of native peoples, and in our own day the enslaving of women who were deemed to be “at moral risk” – all these horrors were perpetrated by people who firmly believed they were doing God’s will. On the other side of the coin, I have met atheists whose lives are models of caring and humble service to others. They are often surprised when you explain modern Christian beliefs to them.

    One point specially intrigues me. Christians can be complacent at the millions of tragedies taking place in the world. They can say “God will put it all right eventually, and in the mean time, those who suffer so dreadfully will be compensated after they die.” On the other hand atheists take the view that we humans run the world, and if we don’t do it properly no one else will. I have tremendous sympathy with this view; but is this what is meant by saying that we as Christians should grow up?


  11. Your prayer was answered and the world-wide-masses can hear your words.

  12. Moyra says

    I think I would like to be able to read it, because I have a computer that’s somewhat challenged in the sound department….

  13. Particularly useful to discover that when listening this way I can get interrupted for 5 mins mid-flow and then pick up again from the same point. Clever !

    Nice One Kelvin.

    And proves the point succinctly that a good sermon does not need to drone on for 20 mins…………

  14. Moyra says

    Thank you. When I’m at a computer with working sound, I will listen to it as well!!

  15. I enjoyed listening to your sermon with my breakfast, Kelvin 🙂 I find it frustrating that atheists seem always to assume we worship the ‘old beardy man’ who sits in heaven working us like puppets, and moreover that we haven’t thought about it. I like talking to atheists too, although I have yet to convince one of them! Maybe you’ve given me another tack to try.

  16. Hmm, why did that smiley appear on the left and the full stop vanish????

  17. Thank you all for your comments.

    Andrew – the kind of faith that you are leaning towards might be called Christian Humanism and has a long and distinguished history though people disagree about what that term means.

  18. Marion Conn says

    Hi Kelvin, just listened. Wow! Hope you do this again, thanks.

  19. Elizabeth says

    I like the new format – and having written text plus recording is a must. For those reading in the office on their lunch break for instance! Any chance of posting the Pentecost sermon (text)? She asks hopefully.

  20. Interesting thought Elizabeth, how the introduction to the sermon would translate to the written word would be a challenge. However a recording would have really illustrated how Kelvin set out his stall at the beginning, and recapped at the end.

  21. Elizabeth says

    I’m sure our estimable Provost can rise to the challenges of such textual representations. A recording would also have revealed the extent of the challenges to listening for the spirit!

  22. Yup, that works – a couple of bits of clipping but otherwise fine.

    As for the subject-matter… I’ve been re-evaluating so much the past few years; some turns of phrase in hymns, creeds, whole concepts are challenging to fit into a revised world-view; my search for landscape photos has led to one or two spiritually intense yet frustrating moments before now so I can particularly relate to `cathedral of the holy’; your summary of the 3 works well.

    The trouble for me is that there are plenty enough folks still preaching over-simplistic models like `supernatural monarchical’ and substitutionary atonement of old, giving atheists plenty enough ammunition. Worse, watching people attempting to live in that kind of a way is *hard*. And so the investigation, dialogue & re-evaluation continues… 🙂

  23. Kelvin,

    Great sermon. Loved hearing a sermon for Trinity rather than preaching one. Mine fell flat on its face this year. As a reader from across the pond, I thoroughly enjoyed putting a voice to a blog as it were. Keep up the good work and post the pod casts when you can.


  24. Eamonn says

    Keep searching, Tim. God is not to be found in set phrases or simplistic models, however much some people seem to get stuck there.

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