Sermon for Trinity Sunday 2018
Today is Trinity Sunday, the Sunday in the church calendar when we remember and celebrate a fundamental Christian doctrine of God, that has also befuddled Christians and non-Christians alike for centuries. Since the Trinity can be such a hard concept to understand, I decided to turn to one of my favorite philosophers for advice and guidance this morning: Winnie the Pooh.
It is a very windy day and Pooh and Piglet are sitting in the Thoughtful Spot and wondering, when Pooh has an idea:
“Let’s go and see everybody,” said Pooh.
Piglet thought that they ought to have a reason for going to see everybody, like looking for small or organizing an expotition, if Pooh could think of something.
“We’ll go because it’s Thursday,” he said, “and we’ll go to wish everybody a Very Happy Thursday. Come on, Piglet.”
So Pooh and Piglet go on their rounds visiting everyone in the Hundred Acre Wood. Eventually they come to the house of Rabbit.
“We’ve come to wish you a very Happy Thursday,” said Pooh.
“Why, what’s going to happen on Thursday?” asked Rabbit, and when Pooh had explained, and Rabbit, whose life was made up of important things, said “Oh, I thought you’d really come about something,”…they sat down for a little…and by-and-by Pooh and Piglet went on again.
“Rabbit’s clever,” said Pooh thoughtfully.
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit’s clever.”
“And he has brain.”
“Yes,” said Piglet, “Rabbit has brain.”
There was a long silence.
“I suppose,” said Pooh, “that that’s why he never understands anything.”
Pooh is brilliant. Pooh understands that sometimes the greatest barrier to understanding something is our own brain. Rabbit’s life is made up of so-called “important things.” Rabbit is clever and busy. Rabbit must constantly use logic, smarts, good sense. Rabbit likes to plant his vegetables neatly in rows, with everything labeled. Rabbit is very practical like that, which is why he is befuddled when Pooh and Piglet just show up on a random Thursday. Rabbit wants to understand what Pooh and Piglet are up to, but his brain just won’t let him. It’s a shame really, because if Rabbit could just stop trying to be clever for a bit, if he could try thinking with his heart instead of his brain, then he might just look up and see two dear friends that love him and want to share joy with him, for no reason at all. Just because it’s Thursday. That’s all that Pooh and Piglet were up to; they just wanted to spend time with their friends. They wanted to share joy, not for any particular reason, just for love. Love never needs a reason. Love is always its own reason. Rabbit is clever. Rabbit has brain. Rabbit can reason, but none of those things can help you understand love, and if you don’t understand love, you might as well not understand anything.
Children have this unique ability: children can think with both their hearts and their brains at the same time. Somewhere along the way we figure out that we are clever, that we have brains, and we start turning that heart off. We are taught that everything must be reasonable and rational; we are taught that our deepest and most profound thoughts happen up here in our heads and not down here in our hearts; but maybe Pooh is right; maybe some things can’t be understood with the brain.
Gallons of ink have been spilled by priests and theologians trying to explain the Holy Trinity, but we can’t get our heads around it. No matter how hard we try, we can’t fully understand it, it doesn’t make sense, but maybe that is because we are trying to be a little too much like Rabbit. Maybe we use our brains more than our hearts. This week, as I was sitting in my Thoughtful spot and wondering, I began to ponder how Pooh might approach the Holy Trinity.
Tapping his head saying: “think, think, think,” I think Pooh would quickly give up trying to make sense out of this idea with his head, being a bear of very little brain anyways, and he would look at it with his heart.
If he did, Pooh might see that:
All of the beauty of the Hundred Acre wood and everything in it, including every drop of honey, and every bee that makes honey, was created by God, for no reason at all, just for love.
That same God loved Christopher Robin so much, that when he (and all other boys and girls) was in trouble and in danger of being lost, he became a human just like him so that he could find him and save him, not for any reason, just for love.
And that same God wasn’t content to just sit in one place, but moves about through all of creation just like the wind on a blustery day, inspiring his friends, guiding them and well, just wanting to be with them, not for any reason, just because he loves them.
I think Pooh wouldn’t worry too much about what he doesn’t understand, but would simply rejoice in what has been revealed to him. In fact, I know that is what he would do. At the end of The House at Pooh Corner, when Pooh learns that Christopher Robin is going to be leaving him and going off to this mysterious place called school, where he is going to learn about Europe and Kings and Queens and Knights and such things, Pooh asks Christopher Robin if he can be made a knight too. So Christopher Robin takes a stick and touches him on the shoulder and says: “Rise, Sir Pooh de Bear, most faithful of all my Knights.”
So Pooh rose and sat down and said “thank you,” which is the proper thing to say when you have been made a knight, and he went into a dream again, in which he and Sir Pomp and Sir Brazil and Factors lived together with a horse, and were faithful knights to Good King Christopher Robin…and every now and then he shook his head and said to himself “I’m not getting it right.” Then he began to think of all the things Christopher Robin would want to tell him when he came back from wherever he was going to, and how muddling it would be for a bear of very little brain to try and get them right in his mind. “So, perhaps,” he said sadly to himself, “Christopher Robin won’t tell me any more,” and he wondered if being a faithful knight meant that you just went on being faithful without being told things.
Being a faithful knight means that you just go on being faithful, without being told things; without understanding things. We adults are clever. We have brains, but brains are meant to understand earthly things. If you want to understand heavenly things, try thinking with your heart. Maybe that is why our Lord said that: “unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Maybe a part of being born again, means learning to approach God with the faith of a child again. Children, like Pooh Bear, can think with their hearts. If we could look at the Trinity with the eyes of a child, we just might see God in all his glory; we might see that the force at the center of the universe is a grand, mysterious and wonderful being of unreasonable love, and we might rejoice that that God loves us, and wants to be with us, for no reason at all, just for love. We adults may not be able to understand the Holy Trinity, but I’m willing to bet that Pooh does.