There is only now.

(Photographed in the “garden of hope” at Clara White Mission, Jacksonville, FL.)

This sermon was offered on Sunday, May 30, 2021 — Trinity Sunday
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, Jacksonville, FL

Isaiah 6:1-8
Romans 8:12-17
John 3:1-17
Psalm 29

In the name of God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

“There is almost no such thing as ready.

There is only now.”

This quote popped up on my meditation app last week.

It has stayed with me. 

A good reminder for someone who can

fret about what is to come,

and who rarely feels ready.

“There is almost no such thing as ready.

There is only now.”

The quote is attributed to Hugh Laurie.

The star of the TV series “House.”

He plays a hospitalist.

A doctor called in to solve complex medical cases

that have stumped other physicians.

If you’ve ever watched the show,

Dr. House always discovers the answer in the now.

Lots of footwork and questions –

lots of actions are taken — but the answer surfaces

when the answer surfaces.

The “now” is where the eternal operates,

and makes itself known.

It can’t be forced.

And it is always a surprise.

In Isaiah, we encounter a prophet who is certain

that he is not ready.

“Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips,

and I live among people of unclean lips;

yet my eyes have seen the Lord.”

He is terrified.

He must have been frozen in shock as

the seraph flew to him, touching his lips

with a piece of hot coal.

Definitely not ready.

Yet, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, willing.

(pause)

I suspect that the teenage girl who

filmed George Floyd’s death was terrified.

I doubt that she felt an overwhelming sense

of being ready.

And yet by grace she was willing.

Her action was pivotal in the quest

            for truth and justice.

We are just like that young girl.

Just like the prophet Isaiah.

And probably on some level just like Hugh Laurie,

God is calling us out of our comfort zone.

If you don’t feel ready: Good.

Because that sense of feeling not adequately prepared,

of feeling vulnerable, is what opens us to depend

on God and God alone.

12-step literature says that the alcoholic who has hit bottom —

who is unable to save herself –

must find a power greater than herself

which will solve her problem.

The literature is blunt: “Either God is everything.

 Or God is nothing. What is our choice to be.”

On this Trinity Sunday, I can’t help but return to that

beautiful, strange vision of Julian of Norwich.

Lying on what was thought to be her deathbed,

she had a series of visions.

In this one, she simply saw an open hand, cradling

in its palm what appeared to be a hazelnut.

She asked God: “What is it?”

The answer: “Everything that is.”

The Trinity embodies all of creation.

Nothing is left out.

No one is less than.

Our theology of the Eucharist tells us that

Christ is present in the elements

of bread and wine. 

We can take that further and affirm that

the Holy Trinity, Father Son and Holy Spirit,

is embodied in that sacrament, for they are

in constant communion with one another and –

through Christ — with us.

The Gospel lesson from John speaks of how

this communion of Trinity moves in and

through us – of how it includes us –

during our earthly pilgrimage.

Nicodemus asks “How can anyone be born

after growing old? How can anyone enter into

the mother’s womb to be born again?”

He shows us the limit of a strictly literal

interpretation of the Word.

Jesus does not want us to reenter

our mother’s womb.

He wants us to be open to the

transforming power of the Holy Spirit!

We are called into the light of Christ

to be transformed into his likeness.

In this way, we become more fully a part

of the conversation – of the communion

of Trinity.

Jesus calls us children of God.

He calls us friend.

This is a God who is love,

who gives us eternal life in Christ.

In this ongoing process, we are called to be

co-creators with this Holy Trinity.

The world is saved not because enough

people declare that Jesus is Lord.

The world is saved through our actions.

Jesus tells us to do as he has done.

To speak the truth in love.

To embody the truth in love.

I read an article this week about a rural

farm community outside of Palm Beach.

The government set up a vaccination site

to make it easier for folks living in this area

to be vaccinated for COVID-19.

Free! No appointment needed!

The hope was that this largely African American,

impoverished community –

a population that has been getting vaccinated

at a much lower rate than people of means –

would be able to be protected.

Can you guess what happened?

Wealthy folks from Palm Beach drove in their

Mercedes Benz’s to take advantage of the convenience,

and, in the process, they depleted a supply

intended for the locals.

Sometimes our fears and anxiety cause us

to act without regard for our neighbors.

So how is the Holy Trinity to transform the world?

How is the world to be saved?

Through acts of love.

Our neighbors – especially those who feel

excluded or forgotten, who have been treated

their entire lives as less than –

will experience the healing love of Christ

through our actions, through our willingness

to insist on – to demand justice.

Last week we celebrated the Day of Pentecost –

widely regarded as the birthday of the Church.

It is a joyful occasion — and it should be.

Jesus has ascended to the Father and

given us the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This Holy Spirit is the Advocate, who prays

to the Father on our behalf.

But it is also the Advocate of the forgotten and

neglected, of the invisible and diminished.

It is the Advocate of anyone whom our world

regards as “other” or less than.

And it is the Advocate which empowers

those of us who can stand with them.

We are called to love not just in Spirit

and truth.

We are called to love through our actions.

To be co-creators with the Holy, Unknowable,

Trinity of love.

You are in good company if you do not feel ready.

“For there is almost no such thing as ready.

There is only now.” Amen.

About Mother Beth Tjoflat

Episcopal priest, urban contemplative, playwright, lover of hounds, American of Chilean-Norwegian-Moravian descent. Interests include transformational ministry with the forgotten and marginalized; church planting and congregational development; 12-step spirituality; Hispanic ministry; radical hospitality, and spending time with dear friends.
This entry was posted in 12-step spirituality, Christianity, community, compassion, Diocese of Florida, Episcopal church, faith, Grace, holy, love, reconciliation, Recovery, unity, urban ministry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to There is only now.

  1. Erin DuPristle says:

    This sermon brought to mind the song “No Day but Today” from RENT. Thank you for the heartful inspiration, as always.

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