Sermon preached on Trinity Sunday 2014

The truth is, I’ve not preached on Trinity Sunday. I think I have preached on Trinity Sunday in my time at St Mary’s but certainly not many times and certainly not for a number of years.

You see – I’ve been in charge of the preaching rota.

But lo. Here I am having spent a couple of weeks off sick, now back to work. I’m grateful to colleagues for picking up various bits of work whilst I was indisposed.

One of those bits of work that I had to ask someone else to pick up was devising the preaching rota….

…and here I find myself – first Sunday back at work, preaching on the Holy Trinity.

Am I fighting fit? Yes!

Am I cowed by having to preach on the Trinity? Certainly not.

You see, just between you and me, the Trinity is easy. Once you’ve grasped that you won’t quite grasp it you are more than halfway to understanding it completely.

But I want to begin not in the middle of Christian doctrine and not in the middle of the bible readings this morning but over the road outside Lupe Pinto’s shop.

Now that shop is a marvel – one of the many great food shops around here. It specialises in food from the Americas. Chillies and spices and all kinds of things that you never expected to find in a tin like pumpkins.

But it also specialised this week in the most brilliant advertising board. It was a blackboard with a message chalked on it.

I was walking down Great Western Road last Sunday wondering whether God would ever speak to me, as you do. Sometimes God speaks to you through your inner heart and mind – in meditation and in prayer. And sometimes God decides to catch your eye by chalking something on a noticeboard outside a Mexican grocery store.

Last Sunday, Lupe Pintos had a board outside the store which said these words:

“We sell good stuff”.

Isn’t that the most brilliant advertising imaginable? I stopped and looked at it. I even took a photograph of it. They could license that to every shop in the street. No, to every shop in the land.

“We sell good stuff”.

And I found myself wondering whether we could put a sign like that outside our church. And I found myself wondering whether if a church put a sign like that outside would it in fact be true.

“We sell good stuff.”

The trouble is, I think, is that the churches very often sell their worst stuff. They put in the shop window the worst stuff imaginable. Prejudice, intolerance and the most horrific abuse imaginable are all laid out for the public to look at with a regularity that must make us groan.

For I fear we don’t sell the good stuff very well. Too often the churches keep the good stuff to themselves.

We use the glories of human art and craft and imagination to tell stories of salvation that go deeper into the human psyche than mere words can reach. We sing songs of passion and praise that tell of a love that is broader than any one person can grasp. We preach compassion and care for a world which seems hell-bent sometimes on elevating selfishness to a form of divinity.

We’ve got good stuff.

We believe in the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We’ve got good stuff.

We believe in the Source of all being, the eternal word, in holy wisdom.

We don’t just sell them. We don’t just possess them. We know them. We relate to them. We are beguiled by our communion with a God who loves us and loves us and loves us.

When I was a student, I inevitably had to go to quite a lot of divinity classes. And some of those classes were easy and some of them were tricky. People were always troubled by classes dealing in the nature of the trinity – a doctrine that mainstream churches have proclaimed even though, heaven knows, it would be easier to play down the divinity of Christ or the presence of the Spirit and focus on a single expression of God.

But a single expression of God’s love was never enough.

And that’s what I learned about the Holy Trinity in my doctrine classes – a single definition of God simply isn’t enough – it doesn’t meet with our experience, which is much broader than that.

And I remember preaching something like that long ago when I was an ordinand. And afterwards someone approached me with a question which I thought, having been to all those classes I’d have no trouble answering.

My interlocutor simply looked me in the eye and said, “Why only three?” a question which I’m not sure I have an answer to even now.

But I do have a picture of a sign outside a shop that says, “We sell good stuff”.

And it reminds me that the Christian faith with all the complexities of a doctrine class boils down to simple truths. Good truths that are all about being loved. We sell good stuff. We are loved to distraction by a God who can’t be contained within our language, whose love is broader than our own, whose compassion surrounds us, whose care is never ending.

We’ve got good stuff.

And thinking about the trinity is an invitation to come inside and take a look around.

The shop over the road is a cornucopia of wonderful things. They’ve got good stuff. Many of the things I’ll never have a use for at all. But I can make life tasty and fresh and new by dropping in their from time to time and expanding the repertoire of what I do understand.

The Christian faith is a cornucopia of wonderful things too. Doctrine that can explain things you’ve never thought of. Music that is sublime and takes you to emotional places you never imagined you’d go. Different unfolding forms of prayer for life experiences that we can’t begin to imagine.

We’ve got good stuff.

We believe in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

We’ve got good stuff.

We believe in a God who loves us and loves us and loves us.

We’ve got good stuff.

Told you it was easy!



  1. Thomas says

    Thanks, Kelvin- this is great. I’m increasingly convinced that the classic and orthodox doctrines of the Christian faith- incarnation, Trinity, resurrection, the sacraments- are far more liberating and radical than those things that are often claimed as “orthodoxy” (the worst sort of substitutionary atonement focused on God’s wrath; exclusivist views of salvation; the belief that the heterosexual nuclear family with 2.4 children is the only model…..!)

  2. Tom Neyland says

    I like what Richard Rohr says about the Trinity. He says that it’s all about relationship, that the Trinity is a pattern and template for everyone to be in communion and relationship. Rublev’s Trinity of angels who appeared to Abraham is a great icon of the Trinity in my opinion. Sure beats the sterile diagrams and all the heady stuff written about the Trinity, removing the astonishment.

  3. Randal Oulton says

    >> Chillies and spices and all kinds of things that you never expected to find in a tin like pumpkins.

    You mean, like pumpkin purée, aka mashed pumpkin, aka canned pumpkin? (aka Libby’s or Stokely’s brand in North America?)

  4. Zebadee says

    I think you will find that the last time you preached on Trinity Sunday @ St Marys was in the year of our Lord 2010

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