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15 June 2014
posted by Canon Dakin on 19-06-2014

Trinity Sunday

God is a trinity. We are told that we are made in God’s image and we are told that we  were made in God’s image when he was making us male and female.. Within the Trinity the third person proceeds from the love of the other two just as in the family the child personifies the love of man and wife.  The analogy is obvious. The family is a mini trinity. God has imprinted himself on earth in the family. But is it just a shadow, just an outline?     What do we mean, for instance, when we say that marriage is a sacrament? What makes a marriage? It is not just the vows taken in church. There is no marriage without consummation. The sacramental element is the intimate physical embrace, but the physical act itself is not sacramental. It must be informed by love - a generous love. The three persons of the Trinity are God because they are held together by a love which is a total gift of self.  As a sacrament marriage is a sharing in the life of God, a sharing in the love which is the very being of God and therefore a love which is a gift of self not a selfish use of another.  Some time ago I came across a letter in a newspaper which I found to be interesting.

         When I was a child I used to wonder why my mother sat so close to our open coal fire for such long periods of time. When I was married I did the same thing. With no love in the house the atmosphere was below zero. I realised that the only warmth my mother was likely to get was from the fire and it was the same for me during my marriage.

Where there is no sign of love there is no sacrament; if no sacrament, no marriage. I hope I’m not causing you to question your marriage. You’re allowed to fall out whilst fundamentally there is a firmness of attachment.  The sacramental sign of marriage is not a piece of paper, a wedding certificate; it is a quality of love which is God’s gift on a wedding day. Sex is sacred.

Some of the older ones among you may be a bit doubtful of what I am saying because you remember your catechism. According to the old catechism we were indeed made in God’s image and likeness but that image was said to be chiefly in the soul whilst I’m saying that it’s in the relatedness of man and woman, in the bodilyexpression of their love,. We were told in the catechism that the image of the three persons of the Trinity is in the three powers of the soul, memory, understanding and will. That was always a bit dodgy because memory is not in the same league as understanding and will. Memory I share with elephants and horses. So where did this reference to the soul come from? It came from St Augustine of Hippo - a man who dazzled the western world with his eloquence. But he had his drawbacks - three, in fact. He favoured the philosophy of Plato and Plato ignored the body; our total importance for him was in the soul. Then Augustine was in conflict with the Pelagians who were optimistic about our being able to do good. For Augustine we can do no good without God - he saw weakness and sin everywhere. Thirdly Augustine had a past. In sowing his wild oats he had fathered an illegitimate son. In reaction he was sour in regard to sex. He very largely influenced the outlook of the western Church for centuries.                                                                                      

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