Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning. These words from Winston Churchill, sum up what it is we are about today. The church marks the Trinity today, and as St Augustine said about the trinity; try to understand it and you’ll lose your mind. Try to deny it and lose your soul. So today is important, not because we are trying to understand a mystery with scientific precision- rather, we come together to celebrate a mystical union which moves us from the known to the unknown, from safe to discomfort, from love into love- for the perfection of our souls. Now is not the end, but it is the end of the beginning, a beginning grounded in presence.
The gospel we just heard is found in John's farewell discourse, an important section for us because we hear again and again- in this post resurrection life- of the eternal presence and promise of God’s love all around us. Yet for the last 50 days of Easter, we have continued to question if what Jesus is, really is true. We just want that feeling of closeness back with the one we love so much, we want things to be the same as they were when we were in galilee- when life was easier. Think back to when we were first married, or first fell in love, or started that new job- everything seemed easier, happier, care free. Now life without Christ seems uncertain, unsure- how are we supposed to carry on without this person we love so much? All of our scripture this morning from the psalm, to proverbs, and romans, talks to us of our trust in God's presence in our lives, and the depth of relationship and care God created us for and in. Yet, we get to the edge of this farewell in John's Gospel and focus on the ending of something, rather than the beginning of something new. In John, we are shown that there is more to come and we won't understand it, but what is before us is the next stage in our journey.
Think about it for a second, what is it that we do here every Sunday in our liturgy? We practice the beginning of our presence, being present with God as God is present with us, calling us into new places, ministries, into new life. Yet, sunday sometimes does not make sense to us, in the moment. Sometimes the readings, hymns, sermons, and eucharist line up perfectly and we totally get it, like Gods talking to us directly. Sometimes we leave more confused than when we showed up, wondering why we bothered showing up at all. The hymns are a mess, no one greets you when you come in, my sermon is horrible, the wine tastes weird, and the bread seems stale. The moments we feel confused or uninspired about church/ faith are just as important as the moments we find ourselves on fire for God, because even in our confusion we are being shown something we won't fully understand just yet- a piece of our journey to come. Something that will continue to unfold as we go deeper within ourselves asking why we felt unsettled, unsure, affirmed, rejected, challenged or vibrantly free in our faith in this place. This is the end of our beginnings as Christians, as we leave the safety of the known, the light of the tomb and go out into the world, going deeper into the mystery of the Trinity in our lives.
You see, this is the stuff of the trinity- in these real life moments of joy, sorrow, pain, anxiety, hope, desolation, Jesus is saying to you and I that his departure does not sever our relationship with him because of our invitation to presence with him. This invitation is held out for us in the Icon of the Trinity housed in our prayer station- three together talking, sharing a meal, with an open spot left for you and I to pull up a chair and join the conversation with all of who we are. This is a presence, in a meal, of God, which is so intimate and familiar that we feel totally heard, seen, and known, just like how our spouses, friends, and loved ones know and see us. A closeness of relationship that weaves together all of what we may feel are unconnected experiences or feelings into a life built for the kingdom work we are called to live today. And yet, this is not the end- there is still more we won’t understand!
Not being able to bare or understand what Christ is saying to us isn't about stupidity, we are created with capacity for many things. It's about the perpetual cycle of gathering ourselves, being transformed by presence, and being sent into new places because of what God is doing in our lives. This is why we mark our lives with the liturgy of the Eucharist every Sunday, and why we renew our baptismal vows throughout the year. In it we gather who we are, our questions and stories, we are transformed by the presence of Christ given to us in the Eucharist, and sent out into the world different but never alone because of it. But these moments are never the end of the work, but the end of our beginnings because by them we are invited to see the world differently, to be differently.
This, my friends, is the work of the Trinity in a nutshell. Go from this place and make friends in the name of Jesus, knowing that this is not the end- just the end of our beginnings and the start of our freedom in God's love. Share the stories of your real life, your anxiety, your fears, your love, your joy, your hopes, and listen to the other for the same. Be witnesses to the presence of Christ in the multi-faceted love story of our lives made fully alive in the presence of God to whose table we are invited to dwell with them today. Embrace the inner questions, the doubt, the silence, the joy, the mystery of our life, which is the creative force of God fully alive within us. This is not the end, says Jesus this morning, this is just the end of our beginning, the beginning of a church fully alive to the work of the spirit in the world. This is not the end, come and see!