Pentecost 12

My friend Fr. Justin Falciani, Rector of Christ Church in Somers Point, told me this week that his oldest parishioner had just passed away.  She was 111 years old; she was 68 years older than me, which is not something I can wrap my head around real well.  It also reminded me of the advice given by the oldest woman in Scotland, Jessie Gallen, who died a couple years ago.  This was her secret to a long life: “My secret to a long life has been staying away from men.  They’re just more trouble than they’re worth.”[1]

Usually this kind of advice comes in the form of things to eat or drink or things not to eat or drink, but Jessie had other ideas.  Jesus gave us what looks like, at first glance, some nutritional advice: “Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert yet they died.”

“I mean, of course those people died—in fact, they had died about 1,000 years (before Jesus said that)!   And since no one even a millennium earlier had ever said manna would keep you alive forever if you kept eating the stuff, noting the fact that those ancestors ate and died seems about as profound a thing to say as “Your great-great-grandfather ate his fruits and vegetables his whole life and then he died.”[2]


Well, that’s the way it works.

And so perhaps there’s a little confusion, the need for some context.  “Perhaps one way to get through this apparently confusing tangle is to recognize that over time, “manna” became a symbol for far more than the flaky, bread-like stuff the Israelites received in the desert.  Manna became a symbol for the presence of God and the Word of God and the gifts of God generally—for all things that contribute to our salvation, in short.  And even as a physical substance, the original manna was a true source of wonder and delight, a key sign that God was with his people, sustaining life in a place that was otherwise shot through with death.

“But now in John 6 Jesus seems to be saying that for all its wonder—and despite all the metaphorical significance that accrued to manna over time—it pales in comparison to the true spiritual sustenance God is ultimately providing for his people through the Christ of God, whose sacrificed flesh will well up inside God’s people as a source of Eternal Life that not even physical death can snuff out.

“Jesus will say something very similar to Martha on the occasion of Lazarus’ death a bit later in this gospel in John 11.   So perhaps the reason Jesus brings up manna in this context is along the lines of “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”  The original manna was great.  It was a true life saver.  It signaled the presence of God among his people in a place of death.  But it was, in the end, a temporary fix.   It was part of the story of salvation, not the whole story and not the climax of that story.  If anything, it could only point toward the greater Bread from heaven that was yet to come.”[3]

All of the “bread” Gospel lessons we’ve heard over the last several weeks won’t reach their natural end until the 26th, and even the Gospel for September 2nd has to do with eating.  The Church has given us an opportunity, I think, to dwell upon what sustains us, what gives us life.  Having Scripture and Holy Tradition speak to us this way is like asking Jessie Gallen how she lived so long; as G.K. Chesterton said, “Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors.”

Scripture and tradition tell us that food is incredibly import and a natural pleasure, which comes as a surprise only to the Stoics.  Sometimes food comes literally and immediately from God, like the manna in the wilderness, and all the rest of the time still comes from God, just slower.  This food satisfies our bodies, makes bodily life possible.

And despite all of that, our forefathers ate the manna and died.  And so we are reminded today that the true human hunger is the hunger for relationship, relationship with each other and with God.  Jesus is the food that satisfies our true hunger; He is the one who gives us true life, who will never cast us out, who will raise us up on the last day.

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Pentecost 11

They say that “You are what you eat.”  That means I’m at least 6% pork roll.  Actually, I got a physical a few weeks ago and although I checked out okay, I was put on Crestor to straighten out my cholesterol, my arteries being the victim of a lifetime of pork-egg-and cheeses.  My doctor said that if I work on my diet, in three months I could probably come off the Crestor, and so I’m doing my best, cutting back, and so occasionally I get hungry.  But, of course, I get the modern, privileged sort of hungry: hungry enough to notice, hungry enough to get a little cranky.  That’s not really hungry hungry.


“In the First Reading, the Israelites, who are marching through the desert, are hungry and they are angry.  God should have killed us in Egypt, they say; then at least we would have died with food in our bellies.  In response, God feeds them with bread from heaven.  Manna falls from the sky during the night, and in the morning they can pick the manna up off the ground.  It seems to have been a specially wonderful analogue to bread.  Scripture says that it was small, and white and mildly sweet, like honey with coriander (Ex 16:31); and it was greatly sustaining too.


“This is a story to shake your head over.  In my world, if you want bread, you have to go to the store for what you need, and you have to pay for what you get there too.  And if you grumble against God angrily, you get a guilty conscience—you don’t get bread falling from the sky.  With or without stores and money, we get no…bread at all.  Why are these Israelites so lucky?  Why doesn’t God make bread fall from heaven for us too?


“Here, by way of answer, is what the story makes clear.  God is a God of history.  He intervenes in human affairs in particular ways at particular times to provide for his people what will do them good at that time.  The only ones who got to eat manna were those grumbling Israelites.  And even they got to eat it only for a while.  When they crossed the Jordan River, the manna stopped.  All they got then was the parched corn from the previous harvest.”[1]


And so I bet they were hungry again, stomachs grumbling for something more.  But I also wonder what else they were hungry for, what else they were missing.  I wonder if they were confused: where did the free food go?  I also wonder if they were spiritually vexed: did heaven shut its doors on them?  Was God just finished tending to their needs?


The whole thing raises questions for us as well.  “Who would not want to be among those who got to taste that honey-sweet manna?  Who would not want to have been one of the people hand-fed by the Lord?”[2]


And then we realize that we are hand-fed by the Lord, with bread sweeter than manna and of infinite value.  Jesus tells us today, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger.”


By now you’re probably thinking that you’ve heard about bread in church an awful lot lately, and you have.  You see, the feeding of the five-thousand was kind of a big deal.  Not only was it a cool miracle, but it set thousands of people down a path to both belief in Jesus and/or total confusion.  Like their Israelites ancestors, the people present were hand-fed bread by God, and they couldn’t get enough.  Who doesn’t like free food?  But Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not the Good Baker: just as the manna stopped, Jesus ceased to produce miraculous amounts of bread.  He needed them to understand that He Himself is what does and will sustain them, and us.


They didn’t get it, and we rarely do either, and so we’ve been hearing about bread in our Gospel lessons since July 22nd and will keep hearing about it until August 19th.  All so that we realize that we are hand-fed by the Lord, with bread sweeter than manna and of infinite value, straight from the altar.


“The British theologian, Ronald Knox, speaking about the Eucharist, submits this: We have never, he claims, as Christians, been truly faithful to Jesus, no matter our denomination.  In the end, none of us have truly followed those teachings which most characterize Jesus: we haven’t turned the other cheek.  We haven’t forgiven our enemies.  We haven’t purified our thoughts.  We haven’t seen God in the poor. We haven’t kept our hearts pure and free from the things of this world.  But we have, he submits, been faithful in one very important way; we have kept the Eucharist going.  The last thing Jesus asked us to do before he died was to keep celebrating the Eucharist.”[3]


Why?  So that we might be hand-fed by the Lord, truly satisfied by the Bread of Life, made more like Jesus in body and soul.  You are what you eat.

[1] Eleanor Stump:

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ron Rolheiser:

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Pentecost +10

The story of Jesus walking on water is easily one of the most recognizable stories in the New Testament.  It’s a cultural touchstone.  To most of the world, Christian and non-Christian, Jesus is the man who could walk on water.

The ‘walk on water’ story we get from Mark is the short version.  If we were getting this story this morning from Matthew, it would continue with Jesus beckoning Peter to get out of the boat and do some walking himself, which he did, until he got scared, sank, and Jesus had to fish him out of the lake.  Mark, who got some of his gospel narrative from Peter, left out this detail – perhaps Peter conveniently forgot that part.

Anyway, one of the things we preachers do is to try to find meaning in whatever biblical story we’re working with, to assign deep spiritual meaning to everything in the passage.  Oooh, the water represents death and the boat is the Church and the storm is the changes and chances of this life.  I’m guilty of that, certainly, and it’s always good to find meaning wherever it may be found.

But sometimes a story is just a story, just a recounting of what happened.  A lot of the miracle stories are like that, and this one is no exception.   Here’s some context.

Jesus feeds the five thousand (another miracle people seem to attach multiple meanings to), and then sends the disciples out into a boat.  “He doesn’t go with them at first, but the implication is that he would indeed catch up with them soon enough.  Meanwhile he wants to pray.  He has just found out that his cousin, friend, and gospel co-worker, John the Baptist, has been killed by Herod.  After hearing this sad news, Jesus wanted to be alone right away, and so took that boat to a lonely place where presumably he could weep, mourn, and pray to his Father in private.  The crowds followed him, however, and so Jesus delays his time of grieving long enough to do some more teaching and healing, followed by his feeding those same crowds.

“His ministry got in the way of his personal feelings for a little while, but the delay hardly made everything all better and so Jesus is still hankering for some quiet time.  So he sends the disciples on ahead so that he could pray.  We don’t know how much time Jesus managed to have to himself even on this second attempt at some private devotions, but before too much longer one of those unpredictable Sea of Galilee squalls had blown in.  In this particular story we are not told that the boat was in danger of sinking necessarily, but then again, getting buffeted by wind and water in the middle of a very dark night is surely a frightening, if not a very dangerous, situation to be in.”[1]

Jesus sees His disciples struggling, and decides to catch up with them, walking on the water.  Here’s where we usually veer off: lots of sermons and commentators want to explain why Jesus walked on the water; what did it mean!?  Well, it probably meant that the shortest way to get to where He was going was across the lake, since He was going to a town across the lake.  Mark himself attached no meaning to this particular miracle.  How do I know this?

Because Mark, in the next sentence, tells us that Jesus “meant to pass by them.”  Unlike most of Jesus’ miracles, the healings and the feedings and the water into wine and raising of the dead, this miracle was of no consequence to anyone.  Jesus walked on water because Jesus could walk on water.

If anything, the walking on the water was the lesser miracle that night.  When the disciples saw Jesus, they thought they were seeing a ghost, as you would.  They were terrified, of course, but then Jesus yelled over the wind “Take heart, it is I; have no fear.”   And He got into the boat with them and the wind ceased.

There’s the primary miracle: the wind ceased.  This terrified the disciples all the more: they had seen Jesus do some pretty awesome things, but now, without a word, without a long prayer, without even a twirl and a shazam, Jesus thought the storm away.  And the disciples were terrified, because now they knew who they were dealing with.

Is there a deeper meaning to this story: sure.  It’s that Jesus is the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  Even the winds and the sea obey Him.  And even though He didn’t have to, when He saw His people were afraid, He got into the boat.

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Pentecost 9

Henry David Thoreau wrote that “Nothing can be more useful to a man than a determination not to be hurried.”


As a people, Americans are always in a hurry.  We’re always doing at least two things at once.  The great theologian Henry Nouwen wrote that “We experience our days as filled with things to do, people to meet, projects to finish, letters to write, calls to make, and appointments to keep…In fact, we are almost always aware of being behind schedule.  There is a nagging sense that there are unfinished tasks, unfulfilled promises, unrealized proposals.  There is always something else that we should have remembered, done, or said.  There are always people we did not speak to, write to, or visit.  Thus, although we are very busy, we also have a lingering feeling of never really fulfilling our obligation.”


I’ll admit here that I am guilty of that last emotion – even when all is done, when nothing more of any use could be done on any given day, I still manage to check my lists at least one more time.  I have to remind myself, as we all need reminding, that being in a hurry, being busy for no good reason, is contrary not only to a healthy life, but to the Christian life.


St. Mark reminds us today that even Jesus and the disciples were prone to over-extension.  Jesus tells His disciples to “Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”  For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.


What a good problem to have.  Imagine a world in which thirteen of us had to be here day and night, just to satisfy throngs of people who come here seeking the Lord, seeking to be in His presence, to hear God’s word, to be nourished by what the Church has to offer.  We would be busy; we would always be in a hurry, but at least it would be for good reason.  And, inevitably, we would have to figure out a way to get some rest.


Jesus’ plan was to gather up the disciples, get in a boat, and go off to a “lonely place.”  Given their need for rest and a meal, chances are they were heading toward some tiny village fairly nearby where they could get these things.  In ancient Palestine, such a little village qualified as a ‘lonely place’, a place to hide out for a day or two and recharge.


As the story goes, they never got there, but ended up in a very lonely place.  Mark went out of the way to include the detail that there was ‘much green grass’ there, so picture a meadow by the side of a waterway, a pleasant lonely place.


They ended up there because they were chased down by the very crowds from which they were attempting to take their leave.  They must have felt hunted.  Being exhausted and hungry, we can imagine they felt not a small amount of frustration, maybe even bitterness, toward the crowds.


This is the point of the story at which I always feel like half a man.  When I put myself into the story, as if I was one of the disciples, I can only imagine being cranky.  I get a sense of claustrophobia, of defeat; I figure if I was there, I would probably just sit down in the boat and pretend I was somewhere else.  And then I don’t know what I’d do if Jesus did the very thing He did: He had compassion for the crowds – He likened them to sheep without a shepherd – and He kept on working.


Jesus did, famously, take breaks.  Sabbaths, really, time away to rest, to pray, maybe to play.  He once fell dead asleep in a boat during a raging storm.  His Father rested after the sixth day of creation, if not for Himself than for the benefit of His chief creation.


If they took rest, so should we.  Perhaps easier said than done.  But remember, we don’t burn out doing the right things, we burn out because of what we don’t do.  We don’t organize, prioritize, and stay ahead.  We don’t let our minds and souls rest in daily worship and prayer.  We don’t, as a society, play enough.  Instead, we’re in a hurry, guilty as charged.  I’ll take a moment here to say that I know lots of parents of young children, and I don’t know how they do it – you’re allowed to hurry.


John Wesley once wrote “Though I am always in haste, I am never in a hurry.”  I encourage you (and myself) to be more like Wesley: make haste to do the will of God, to be about Christ’s work in you and in the world.  As a spiritual discipline, find some rest for your body and your soul.  Jesus would approve.


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Pentecost 8

So last week we learned that there is indeed no place like home.  Jesus was essentially rejected by the people of His hometown; they heard His words and witness His deeds and while amazed by Him, they didn’t accept Him.  Instead, they were scandalized by Jesus; Mark actually uses the Greek word skandalizo, meaning that the townspeople were tripped up by Jesus, they couldn’t justify the man in front of them with the boy they used to know.  That’s why priests rarely serve anywhere near their hometown – it can be difficult to call someone ‘father’ who you used to kick off your lawn or had played Little League with.

The basic human response to rejection is some combination of humiliation, sadness, anger, and frustration.  Surely Jesus didn’t enjoy being rejected by the people He had always known and loved, and if He had decided to slink away and hide for a while, I doubt any of us would have blamed Him.  But Jesus was a bigger man than that, and so instead of letting that rejection get to Him, He doubled down.

“It’s important for us to remember that, as people who celebrate resurrection, and who have faith in the abiding work of the Holy Spirit, rejection can be the beginning of ministry, rather than its end.  So instead of getting bogged down in provincial nonsense, Jesus commissions his disciples to follow him, by not following him around for a while, and go out, “among the villages” of the countryside, proclaiming the Good News that God desires a new intimacy with humanity, and is doing wonderful things to make that happen.”[1]

Now, this might not come as a galloping shock, but I’m a bit of an extrovert.  Go the next village?  Sure!  But if I was an introvert (and most priests are violently introverted), I would have been horrified. ““Go and talk to people we don’t know? Can’t we just skip to the part where they stone us?”  But Jesus wasn’t just trying to cover more ground; he wanted the disciples to begin to take a sense of investment in his mission; to begin to take on responsibility, and agency; and to gain the kind of deep understanding you can only get by living the message they had so far been merely learning.

“This missionary journey only gets a few verses, but it prefigures not only the apostolic ministry that the disciples would begin after the day of Pentecost, but also the life of ministry to which every Christian is called, the Church’s pattern of proclamation and service in every age.

“As we grow in knowledge, experience, and understanding, our call grows with us.  We have to grow, for while God is always with us, God is more readily manifest outside our comfort zone and when we are less powerful; our own comfort and self-regard can easily blind us to what God is doing, or opportunities God might give us to advance God’s work on Earth.  And so Jesus keeps pushing us out of familiar territory and into new mission fields, new vocations, new opportunities to bring the life and hope and joy of God in Christ to a world that needs them, badly.

“We may tell ourselves that other people don’t want to hear the Good News of God’s unconditional love.  We may tell ourselves that religion is strictly a private matter, or that evangelism is something that other people are called to do, but the truth is that (privacy is the enemy of faith.  Comfort is the enemy of discipleship.)”

Fr. Rob Droste is fond of saying that “The church we want is on the other side of a ridiculously small amount of fear.”

We may feel unready, or uncomfortable.  But the power of Christ dwells in us.  God’s grace is sufficient for us.  You can be a healer without performing a miraculous cure, for grace and truth will heal a wounded soul.  You can be an apostle without walking very far, and you are already well-equipped with knowledge, with this community around you, and the love of God in your heart.

You or your words may be rejected – if it happened to Jesus, it will happen to us.  But that’s the beginning of ministry, not the end.

[1] Fr. Bret Hays

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Pentecost 2

If I had to name the biggest struggle of my present life, I’d have to say keeping up with my laundry.  On any given day, I go through clergy clothes, gym clothes, yardwork clothes, and just regular clothes.  Then there’s the days that are just like that plus a fire call (gotta change those clothes), and up, a pastoral call late at night, and so another set of clergy clothes.  It can all add up pretty quick.  I think often of the Seinfeld quote about laundry: “Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there.  I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem.”


Blood is usually something we need to wash away, but as you all surely know, blood is the toughest of stains.  Surely everyone has always known this, and so it always seemed strange to me that in the Revelation to John, the angel describes the saints in heaven as those who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”


I always get to thinking these things not necessarily when I’m drowning in laundry, but on the last weekend of our Church School year, when at least of few of our awesome kids will receive their first holy communion.


At the Last Supper, Jesus instituted the Eucharist, the means of re-membering Him and His sacrifice, and the means of literally becoming more holy, more God, by taking in His Body and Blood.  “This is my blood of the new covenant,” He said, reminding them and us that a covenant is not an agreement cemented by a handshake, but a bond written in blood.  They will receive the Blood of the Lamb of God, the lifeblood of God, for the first of hopefully many, many times.


“Such thoughts help me appreciate the meaning of “blood” in the Bible.  The ancient world had a way of seeing the obvious: blood carries the stuff of life.  When an animal loses its blood the life goes out of it. It made sense to reverence blood as the carrier and, therefore, a primal symbol of life.  Thus, offering animal blood in sacrificial ritual could symbolize the acknowledgment that life is a gift from God. Everything that modern hematology has to say about the function of blood as carrier of (oxygen and) nutrients and components of our complex immune system only enhances our sense of blood as the stuff of life.”[1]


So I guess the question becomes, what does our life look like when it’s washed by and awash in the Blood of Christ?


Recently, my mother texted me a picture of me as a baby.  I was in the arms of one Father G. P. Mellick Belshaw, then Rector of St. George’s Church Rumson, and soon to be the 9th Bishop of New Jersey.  I was born into the Episcopal Church, and so born into the tradition we hold so dear, the sacramental tradition, in which we are nourished, strengthened, emboldened by the Eucharist week by week, day by day.  I didn’t know anything else until I went to Elon College, and found the Episcopal Church there to be, well, less than edifying.  I ended up going to the church that was headed up by my football chaplain, Bob Disher, who was the lead pastor at St. Mark’s UCC Reformed Church, Burlington, NC.  Bob Disher could preach; he was the kind of guy you could listen to for 45 minutes and wonder why he wrapped things up.  But St. Mark’s was UCC Reformed (and is now a megachurch, standing on its own) – theirs was not a sacramental tradition.  For the first time in my life I felt it – I felt what it was like to not receive the Body and Blood of Jesus on a regular basis, and I didn’t like it.  I had taken it for granted, as kids are wont to do, and like the awesome band Cinderella once sang, “Don’t know what you’ve got, till it’s gone.”


Point being, great sermons have their place and I don’t regret a moment of listening to Bob Disher’s, but nothing – let me say it again – nothing – takes the place of receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  The very life of God is given to us, somehow and beyond our comprehension, so that we have life, the true life that comes from knowing that our worth is tied not to what we do or to what happens to us, but tied to the relationship we have with the God who made all things.


Because we have infinite worth in Christ, we can change our focus to the well being of others and of the world around us.  In his sermon “The Weight of Glory,” C. S. Lewis wrote: “Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”  One of the great things about receiving the Eucharist week by week, day by day, in being washed by and awash in the Body and Blood of the Lord, we learn to recognize what our Lord looks like in ourselves and in our neighbor.


I pray such a thing for our kids who will receive for the first time today, and for all of us.

[1] Dennis Hamm, SJ:

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As most of you have probably heard, Bishop Councell passed away on Monday.  Bishop Councell inherited a diocese that was broken and depleted, treated by his predecessor as both a MAC machine and a misfit toy.  But if anyone could step in and fix such a thing, it would be George Councell, a bright, engaged, humble, and deeply kind man.  I don’t know anyone who didn’t like the Bishop – he was impossible to dislike, really.  If Bishop Councell punched your mother in the face, you’d wonder what your mother did to deserve it.

The Bishop loved Christ Church and we loved him back.  Kate Williamson shared the story of when she served as his chaplain at a service here: at one point Kate addressed him as Bishop and then corrected herself and said “Your Excellency.”  And he smiled and said, “God just calls me George.”

Personally, Bishop Councell gave me two of the best gifts I’ve ever received.  One is my priesthood, which he approved despite the nagging disapproval of his then Transition Officer.  I tried to pay him back for that by shielding him from my colleagues who always seemed to need something from him when he was just trying to eat something during a conference.  Once, during a clergy conference, the Bishop was seated a table alone, just beginning to eat, when he was slowly surrounded by priests who wanted this or that.  “Matthew Tucker,” he yelled across the room, “I need to speak with you right now.”  The priests walked away to their own tables, surely thinking I was in some sort of grave trouble.  When I sat down with the Bishop, he pointed his finger at me like this and said, “Did you see the Dodgers’ game last night?”

The second gift was the unusual permission for me, as a seminarian, to apply to be here as Deacon in Charge.  By the grace of God, George Councell, and our Vestry, I’ve been able to be in Bordentown ever since, serving Christ and this community with you.  Bishop Councell gave me the gift of this place and of all of you, and I can never pay him back for that.

So.  Now on to trying to say something intelligent and intelligible about the Trinity, this being Trinity Sunday.  And since I won’t be able to explain the Trinity with any more success than anyone else, I’ll try to give us a glimpse of what the existence of the Trinity can tell us about reality itself.

“Christians believe in one God and only one God.  But the heart of Christianity is the belief that this one God is three Persons, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  We count only one God.  But when we count divine Persons, we count three.”  It’s just not possible to avoid this problem, this problem of God being someone we can’t possibly grasp with our finite minds, let alone put into words.  But God being One God and yet a Trinity of Persons tells us of His majesty, as opposed to the what our minds can grasp.  Let me explain.

“Whatever its shape, the whole cosmos rests on the loving and caring Persons of the Trinity.  You can’t divide the one God into three more fundamental things which make up the one God.  God isn’t a compound of anything more fundamental.  One is all there is, when it comes to God.

“But here’s the hallmark of the doctrine of the Trinity: you still have to count three.  The three Persons of the Trinity are not really anything else.  They aren’t roles of God, or modes of God.  You can’t reduce the three Persons of the Trinity to some more fundamental something in order to get—at bottom—just one.  In themselves, they are just Persons, and there are three of them.

Science, which I’m a big fan of, by the way, tells us “that everything whatsoever is reducible to elementary particles.  For secularists, (those who believe there is no God, they believe that) at the ultimate foundation of reality there is just the impersonal, the cold and uncaring bits of matter and energy that make up the material world.

“What the doctrine of the Trinity tells us is just the opposite.  At the ultimate foundation of reality, irreducible to anything else, there are the three Persons of the Trinity.”[1]  A divine switcharoo.

This might sound like I’m saying that What you see if not what you get, but that’s not it at all.  That’s not it, because we have seen, we’ve seen God the Father in all His glorious works; we have seen God the Son, we have beheld the glory of his birth, death, and resurrection; and we have seen the Holy Spirit, who comforts us, warms our hearts, gives us life.

The Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, might be too much of a wonder for us to grasp, but the One God holds all of us, the living and the dead, in the palm of His hand.

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