I’ve always found it a little frustrating that Trinity Sunday falls right as we’re heading into summer. I understand why Trinity Sunday has to come after Pentecost: only once Jesus has risen into a new kind of life and then sent the Spirit to initiate you and me into that life can we have any hope of engaging the Trinity at all. Without the experience of Easter and Pentecost first, the Trinity will inevitably come off as an abstract, irrelevant theory. So yes, I concede, as a matter of principle, Trinity Sunday probably does need to come where it does in the calendar.
But principle aside, I wish that it didn’t always fall just as everyone is getting ready to go spend a week at the lake, or to use a bunch of Cubs or Cardinals tickets, or, like this year, on Memorial Day weekend when I’ll bet half of us already have half our brains on whatever cookout or party or ceremony we’re headed to later. One of the profoundest and most effective things God has revealed to us, and we get it just when our attention spans are at their lowest. Yes, the truth of the Trinity runs throughout our worship every week, but I still kind of wish the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church would schedule another Trinity observance in, say, October.
The 7th Sunday of Easter has to be one of the oddest occasions in the whole liturgical year. We’re still in Easter season, but Ascension Day has already happened, and Pentecost is yet to come. And if you’ve somehow missed this, Pentecost next week is going to be an over the top celebration to close out the Centennial, with a procession and a pig roast and our Bishop doing confirmations and baptisms and all of us causing a big holy commotion starting at 9:30 am at the corner of Hill and Randolph.
But we’re not there yet! One commentator has noted that today sort of feels like a semicolon between two exclamation points. The Lord has ascended! … The Spirit has descended! …. But in the meantime, it’s the 7th Sunday of Easter.
Today is the sixth Sunday of Easter, which means there is only one more remaining in the season. Each week of Easter this year we have heard a reading from the first letter of John and we will finish the letter next week. While we don’t know for sure, 1st John is thought to be authored by the same person as wrote the Gospel of John. Most probably it was written later in John’s life, perhaps when he was in exile in Patmos. There are many similarities in word choice and themes between this letter and John’s gospel. Jesus Christ is the Word; Jesus Christ is the only son of God; Jesus Christ has come in flesh to the world to be its Savior.
In this letter, John develops the connection between Christian belief and moral conduct. God is love, we heard last week, and the Christian who is a child of God, loves his neighbor as well. Christian life requires both faith in Jesus and love of brothers and sisters.
Because of its repetition, sometimes the letter can be a bit confusing and seem to be written in circles. It can be difficult to sort out the meaning, taken sentence by sentence. I suggest we think of this letter in its entirety. Its structure is somewhat like a finely woven Asian carpet or a symphony played by a full orchestra. A theme is introduced in one section or one part and then the same theme reappears in another section or part. Layered together, part upon part, one hears or sees the entire, rich, idea.