Trinity Homily. Fr. W. Meninger at St. Andrews Episcopal Church 2014

Fr. William Meninger

Friends,

Fr. William delivered this homily  on Trinity Sunday, June 15, 2014 at St. Andrews Episcopal Church , Seattle. When he set  his notes down and began to preach, I knew I was a part of a Holy Spirit inspired moment.

The audio below is about 30 minutes in length.  Give a listen. In the seven or eight years of my close association and travels with Fr. William, I believe it to be one of his three finest teachings. (The other two in my estimation is his teaching on Julian of Norwich and the New Creation Mythology. The other is the Loving Search for God and the Spiritual Journey using the 12th-century Buddhist ox herding pictures as a paradigm for the spiritual journey developed from a paper he delivered at the annual Academy of Religion in San Diego , November 2014.)

If someone is able to transcribe the sermon , will you please let me know and email it to me in PDF. I would like to make it a part of Fr. William’s archival history. Thank you in advance.

Blessings,

-Dan

Dan Dobbins dandobbins10@gmail.com

Fr. William Meninger

Trinity Homily by Fr. William Meninger 2016

May 22, 2016

Trinity Sunday

 The teaching of the Christian church on the holy Trinity is considered to be possibly the most sublime doctrine of divine revelation. Most churches consider that belief in the Trinity, that is three persons in one God, is the deciding factor that determines whether  a given church is a Christian church or not. Belief systems that do not embrace the Trinitarian doctrine, of necessity do not believe in the divinity of Christ and therefore are not really considered Christian,however much they may lay claim to the name.

 The word Trinity comes from two Latin words tri and unity which simply means three in one, our theological way of expressing the three persons in the one God. This teaching is a mystery and therefore is not completely open to total understanding on our part. This is not really a problem for us as we readily acknowledge that God is beyond our understanding. Nonetheless the tri unity of God is revealed to us in the Scriptures and therefore has meaning for us and we should seek some practical understanding of it because of  our faith in the Trinity.

In fact, however, what do you understand about the doctrine of the Trinity? How would you explain it to a child? To an unbeliever? Even to a fellow Christian?

I recall some 30 years ago I was invited for dinner to the home of a large extended Muslim family in the Gaza Strip. The men were all seated in a large circle on the floor of the dining room. I was seated next to the ancient patriarch of the family. In the middle of the meal (I was on the point of devouring a large piece of succulent roast lamb) he turned to me and said, “What is this Trinity all about?”.

I greatly fear that I was not adequate to the occasion and subsequently wished I had at least the presence of mind of Saint Patrick who, in a similar situation, simply said the Trinity was like the three leaf clover, that is three leaves one clover, three persons one God. But even so, how practical, how meaningful is that simple explanation?

60 years ago, in the seminary we spent an entire semester on the theology of the Trinity. It had little practical meaning for me then and today I am forced to examine what meaning it has had for me since. My response to the seminary course on the Trinity was that it was God giving us a private glimpse of what he might look like behind the shower curtain.

In the past 60 years my understanding of the Trinity has been enhanced by several significant experiences. The first was at the death of my eldest sister, Helen. As I stood by her deathbed saying the prayers for the dying these words were spoken to my very heart: Depart, Christian soul in the name of the Father who created you, in the name of the son who redeemed you, and in the name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you. This is very practical, isn’t it? Our creation, our redemption, and our sanctification.

 My second significant, practical experience of the Trinity came through my reading of Julian of Norwich. In her wonderful book, The Revelations of Divine Love, the Lady Julian speaks of the power of the Father, the wisdom of the Son, and the benevolent love of the Holy Spirit. She also says that where we experience one person of the Trinity, for example, the incarnation of the son in Jesus of Nazareth, we also experience the other two persons of the Trinity. This is why Jesus could say, “He who sees me sees the Father.” And” I will not leave you orphans but I will send to you the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth, who will remind you of all that I have taught.” And so, Julian reminds us, that the presence of Jesus in our lives today and the presence of the Holy Spirit and the Father is one and the same.

So as a practical understanding, as we are gathered here this morning as the church, Jesus is present in our midst and so is the Father and the Holy Spirit. As we hear the words of the Scriptures inspired by the Holy Spirit so we hear the words of Jesus and the Father. And finally as we shall be recreated in the one body of Christ through the reception of holy Communion, so we are re-created as sons and daughters of the eternal Father in the love and benevolence of his Holy Spirit. Blessed be the holy and undivided Trinity now and forever! 

May you be happy,

May you be free,

May you be loving,

May you be loved.

 Father William Meninger

The Good Shepherd_Fr. William Meninger_Homily April 17, 2016

The image of Jesus as the good Shepherd is a very endearing one. During his earthly life time, it was a comfortable and very familiar one.  Even today this is true in many rural settings albeit becoming increasingly rarer. Even here at our ranch, it has been some years since one or other of the monks has been called upon to play that role. So while it is an icon that we can understand and to a limited degree appreciate, the image of Jesus as the good Shepherd is one that his flock, that is, his people, that is, his church, is increasingly unable to experience and adequately appreciate.

 In this morning’s reading from the book of Revelation, John tells us of a vision he had of a great multitude which no one could count from every nation,race, people, and tongue. They were gathered in adoration, not before the good Shepherd but, on the contrary, before the Lamb. Strangely enough the Lamb, far from being a shepherd, is the most insignificant, the most helpless and therefore the most needy member of the flock. This, I suppose, is an illustration of Jesus’ teaching that the least among us will be the greatest.

 But before we get further entangled in this plethora of icons and images, maybe we can transcend them and see what happens to the good Shepherd in our times. It was Jesus of Nazareth, the God- man, the word made flesh and dwelling among us, who identified with the good Shepherd. But after the resurrection, Jesus of Nazareth became, if you will, the cosmic Christ. Still a human being but one who has returned to his place at the right hand of the father, who counts the number of the stars and gives to each one its name, who is the image, the blueprint for creation, through whom all things were made and whom the darkness cannot extinguish. Truly this is Jesus whom we now call the Christ and whom we can retroactively, as it were, recognize as  fully present in every atom of the created cosmos as it hurtles along its way from the Big Bang through the divinely guided universal journey towards its appointed goal in the fullness of Christ. We are indeed much more than the sheep of his flock, the people that he calls his own. Neither has it entered into our hearts, nor have our minds conceived what God has planned for those who love him. This is what the teachings of Jesus the Christ tell us, what our faith gives substance to within us and wither our hope leads us. For whoever believes that Jesus is Lord and who receives him as Savior has eternal life.

 It is for this reason that we stand even now before God’s throne. And the one who sits on the throne will shelter us. And we will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike us. For the lamb of God will lead us to springs of life giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

May you be happy,
May you be free,
May you be loving,
May you be loved.
Father William Meninger