The following sermon was preached on June 12, 2022 at St George’s Transcona. You can learn more about St George’s and find links to their YouTube channel by clicking here. 


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable and pleasing in your sight O God, for you are our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

It’s Trinity Sunday. The day when preachers all over the world say an extra prayer that they will somehow manage to avoid saying something either incomprehensible or heretical in their sermon so I thought it would be fitting to begin with a literal prayer of protection from the opening stanzas of a song written by Gayle Salmund and made popular by Steve Bell.

I bind unto myself today
The gift to call on the Trinity
The saving faith where I can say
Come three in one, O one in three

Be above me, as high as the noonday sun
Be below me, the rock I set my feet upon
Be beside me, the wind on my left and right
Be behind me, oh circle me with Your truth and light



“I bind unto myself today the gift to call on the Trinity.”

Father. Son. Holy Spirit.

Creator. Redeemer. Sustainer.

The three in one.

Holy and undivided.

The Trinity.

The first theology course I ever took in university was an upper level course on Trinitarian theology.  Logically (?) I skipped the intro classes. Partway through the term a friend asked me how I was finding the class and I said, “I think I only understand about a third of what we’re discussing, but I have come to the conclusion that the Trinity is really important.”

I still don’t really understand the Trinity, and that’s partly because the Trinity is a mystery.  You’re not supposed to be able to fully understand it, and fortunately, you don’t need to fully understand it to believe in it or appreciate it.

So many things in life come in threes.

There is the classic three point sermon. There were three Bronte Sisters, three Stooges, and three little pigs. Poutine is made up of cheese, gravy, and French Fries.

None of these perfectly describe what we mean when we say we worship one God, who is also three persons.

In contemporary culture, we say that human beings are made up of body, mind, and spirit. But even when we throw those terms around, we often don’t see them as equally important.

I have a friend who refers to her body as a meat sack, another who says that his body is the “container that carries his brain around,” and another who says that their body is “a bunch of goo held together by skin.”

We tend to have complicated relationships with our bodies.  I do. But I also know that God created each one of us with a body, sees those bodies as good, and even willingly took on a human body at one point.

Our passage from Romans begins with the word “Therefore,” which is a clue that in order to understand what comes next, we really should look at what came before. In the section just before our reading, Paul talks about bodies, Abraham’s aging body, and Jesus’s resurrected body.

Paul concludes this discussion by saying at the start of our reading, “Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1). Which sounds amazing, but then Paul quickly shifts to tell us we will also suffer – it is natural and to be expected – but we can also expect that our suffering will produce good fruit like endurance, character, hope.Which sounds like good news to me, but we need to be really careful how we use passages like this from scripture, because it is so easy to take this good news and turn it into a weapon, into bad news.

If you know someone is suffering, it’s not the time to say, “Hey you’re so lucky to be suffering because it’s going to produce all kinds of good things!”

If you know you someone who is suffering, you need to either do what you can to alleviate that suffering or sit with them in that suffering.  We need to avoid adding to someone’s suffering by claiming it is good for them.

In today’s gospel passage, Jesus tells the disciples to expect the coming of the Spirit of truth.  NT Wright tells us that the Spirit’s role is to “prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment all three of which are aspects of the world’s rejection of Jesus…The world judges incorrectly by refusing to recognize Jesus as being sent from the Father and by its inability to penetrate beyond external appearances.”

The Spirit helps us to begin to see as God sees.

One of the key things that the doctrine of the Trinity shows us about how God sees the world, is that God sees everything in the context of relationships. Even God’s relationship to God’s self is relational.  God is a community and not an individual, and God keeps inviting us into that communal experience.  In our increasingly individualistic world, God calls us into community.

Community is difficult, and it’s dangerous.  Community involves putting ourselves into situations where other people may not think or act like we do. It opens us up to vulnerability and to judgment – our own and the judgments of the people we are in community with.

Community can be scary, and it has the potential to make us feel both very comfortable and very uncomfortable.

There is another set of three that I have come to find really helpful. I use them a lot in my retreat and spiritual direction work. I didn’t make this up, but I can’t remember the original source either.

Imagine a series of three concentric circles. In the middle, you have your comfort zone.  For most of my life I’ve been taught that a comfort zone is a bad thing, something I needed to get out of, but the truth is, there is nothing inherently wrong with a comfort zone. It’s, well, comfortable. It makes us feel good and warm and safe.  We all need to spend at least some of our time existing in this sort of space.

The outer most ring is the exact opposite of your comfort zone, it’s your extreme discomfort zone.  In this zone you feel like your life is at risk. You become so focused on staying alive that you don’t have the energy to focus on anything else.

Although the comfort zone and the extreme discomfort zone are opposites, they do have one important thing in common.

You won’t learn or grow in either space.  In one because you are too comfortable to be motivated to change or question anything, and in the other because you are too uncomfortable to be able to change or question anything. That’s what we need the middle circle for.

The middle circle is the “slightly uncomfortable zone.” A space in which you are both not entirely comfortable and not concerned for your personal safety.  Something about the situation is motivating you to change and to question, but you have enough of a sense of safety to actually question and change.

Many of you have been part of this parish for a very long time, and I suspect that in 2019, many of you felt very comfortable here. If asked, many of you would have said that St George’s was definitely in your comfort zone.

But since that time, I know of at least two major things have caused you to shift, at least some of the time, from experiencing St George’s as a comfort zone to a slightly uncomfortable zone.

The first was the pandemic.  By March 2020, it was no longer possible for you to do all of things you normally did, the things that made you so comfortable.  Everything shifted and changed and it was, at bare minimum, pretty uncomfortable.  You weren’t even allowed to come into this building for a long time.

The second big changed occurred when Helen left to become a Bishop. She had been a part of this parish for such a long time and I suspect it felt really comfortable having her here.

But she did leave, and that might have felt… uncomfortable. And I came, and that may have felt uncomfortable as well.  And you know I will be leaving again and someone else will come and maybe that feels uncomfortable too.

Each of you would have had your own reasons for feeling uncomfortable and I can’t read all of your minds but some of you may have been uncomfortable because both the pandemic and the news that Helen was leaving meant that things would change, and change in uncomfortable.

Some of you might have felt uncomfortable when you learned that Helen was leaving because you have conflicting feelings about the situation. You were happy for her, but sad for you, sad for the parish.

Changes that make us uncomfortable, like a pandemic or saying goodbye to a priest and a friend can be really hard, and I don’t want to pretend that’s not true.

They can be so, so hard.

But, because they also move you from your comfort zone to your uncomfortable zone, they can also be really exciting, because this is sweet spot where there is tremendous opportunity to stretch and grow.  This is where there is tremendous opportunity to learn new things, to try new things, and to dream new beautiful dreams.

It can be hard, but it can also be really exciting.

It’s important to acknowledge the discomfort, the pain, and the grief that can come with an uncomfortable change.  You don’t have to pretend you are doing better than you are.

It’s also really important to pay attention to the things the change is teaching you – what new questions, new ideas, new hopes and dreams are rising up in you as you navigate through this time of transition?

And where is God in all of that? Because the God who is relationship and who desires relationship with each one of us if surely right in the middle of all of this.

God who desires good things for you and for this parish is here and is a part of all that is happening, evening the parts that currently feel uncomfortable.

Let’s circle back to our passage from Romans for a moment. Paul says that we can hope and “hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” (5)

Which is such good news.

In the strong name of the holy and undivided Trinity. Amen.