Who is like the LORD our God, who sits enthroned on high, *
but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth?
He takes up the weak out of the dust *
and lifts up the poor from the ashes.
He sets them with the princes, *
with the princes of his people.
He makes the woman of a childless house *
to be a joyful mother of children. (Psalm 113:5-8)
This evening one of the Episcopal Church’s seven Principal Feasts (Trinity Sunday) overlaps one of our many Holy Days (the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary).
In this happy juxtaposition, we ponder this evening the universal mystery of the triune God, “who sits enthroned on high,” and who is made known to us in a specific man, Jesus, born to a specific woman, Mary, whose visit to her relative Elizabeth we honor tomorrow.
“No one has ever seen God,” John reminds us in the prologue to his gospel. “It is God the only Son, who is close to the father’s heart, who has made him known” (John 1:18).
The Trinity whom we adore
John’s gospel opens with a hymn of creation:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:1-5).
John purposely reminds us of the opening of the Hebrew Bible, when in the beginning the spirit of God swept over the face of the waters (Gen. 1:1-2). He goes on to equate the Word — who was with God in the beginning — with Jesus, “a father’s only son, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
In the mystery that Christians call the Incarnation, we see “the Lord our God, who sits enthroned on high, but stoops to behold the heavens and the earth.”
Who is like our God, indeed?
Born of the Virgin Mary
“Hail, Mary, full of grace,” many Christians pray as they say the prayers of the rosary. “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” Mary herself cries out in the prayer we call the Magnificat, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (BCP 119).
In this morning’s Gospel for Trinity Sunday, Nicodemus puzzles over Jesus’ words about being born again. “Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus responds with a wry twist. “Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it chooses and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8).
Mary herself had asked the angel, “How can this be, since I am still a virgin?” to which she got the equally unsettling reply that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35-36).
The Spirit of Love
That same Spirit, Luke goes on to recount in his second volume, the Acts of the Apostles, fell on the early church and inspired them to go out into the world proclaiming that “Jesus is Lord.”
In Jesus, the apostles saw God, “the Lord who sits enthroned on high,” stooping down and joining his creatures. Before he left his disciples, Jesus promised that they would share in his spirit, the spirit of love.
At evening prayer tonight, we prayed for that same Spirit of love.
O God, you manifest in your servants the signs of your presence: Send forth upon us the Spirit of love, that in companionship with one another your abounding grace may increase among us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 125)
O God, send us your Spirit through Jesus our Lord.
In companionship with one another …
Abounding grace …
“Hail Mary, full of grace …”
… full of grace and truth.