The Rev. Carlos Caguiat served as a supply priest on June 12, 2022. Carlos J. Caguiat was ordained to the priesthood in 1965. He has served several parishes and in New York and Michigan. As a health care administrator, he ran several health care institutions. He retired from Saint Francis Ministries (Episcopal). He and his wife Julianna live in a retirement community in Redmond. His sermon was a response to the proper texts for Trinity Sunday, Year C. His sermon was based on the manuscript below.
Some of you may have heard the story of confusion entitled the WC or water closet. It is quoted in Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Here’s how it goes.
The Water Closet
Do you know what a water closet is or WC is? The English use it to mean a bathroom. In the days when you could not count on having a bathroom in a bed and breakfast where you were staying an English lady wrote to the bed and breakfast in Germany where she was going to stay to ask where the location of the WC, was. The bed and breakfast owner did not know what a WC was so he asked the local parish priest what it meant. Together they determined that it meant wayside chapel.
Here’s the letter they wrote back.
My Dear Madame:
I take great pleasure in informing you that the WC is situated nine miles from the house in the center of a beautiful grove of pine trees surrounded by lovely grounds.
It is capable of holding 229 people, and it is open on Sundays and Thursday s only. As there are a great number of people expected during the summer months, I suggest that you come early, although usually there is plenty of standing room. This is an unfortunate situation, especially if you are in the habit of going regularly. It may be of some interest to you to know that my daughter was married in the WC and it was there that she met her husband. I can remember the rush there was for seats. Why there were ten people to every seat usually occupied by one. It was wonderful to see the expressions on their faces.
You will be glad to hear that a good number of people bring their lunch and make a day of it, while others wait until the last minute and arrive just on time. I would especially recommend your ladyship go on Thursdays when there is an organ accompaniment. The acoustics are excellent and even the most delicate sounds can be heard everywhere.
The newest addition is a bell, which rings every time a person enters. A bazaar is to be held to provide plush seats for all, since the people feel it is long needed. My wife has been ill, so she hasn’t been able to go recently. It has been almost a year since she went last, which naturally pains her very much.
I shall be delighted to reserve the best seat for you, where you shall be seen by all. In fact, I look forward to escorting you there myself.
With Kindest regards,
The Bed and breakfast owner.
Taken from Hot Illustrations for youth Talks by Wayne Rice
The German priest and inn keeper were trying to understand what the English lady was asking about in the letter. Both parties were confused.
We could say the same thing about the theologians and Bishops of the early Church. They were wrestling with the meaning of the incarnation, and the experience of the revelation of God throughout the centuries. How did Jesus’ presence as God and man square with the belief that there is only one God? Did God have a dual personality? And how did you explain the continuing work of Spirit of God after Jesus left this earth?
Some thought that Jesus was not really God in the flesh but was a demi God, created by God and God’s surrogate. Others thought that Jesus was not truly human. Others thought there were two Gods and others thought that Jesus was just human but not God in the flesh. The church regarded this wrong teaching as heresy. How could we explain this puzzle?
There was no unanimity throughout the early church. The controversy was tearing the church apart. The Roman Emperor, and the church’s leadership called a Council in 325 CE to try to solve this problem. Since Christianity had just become the religion of the Roman Empire, unity of belief was important theologically and politically. After internal conflicts and some politicking, the church’s solution was the doctrine of the Trinity. It is the church’s way of reflecting its experience with God.
It is fitting that Trinity Sunday takes place right after the Feast of Pentecost. Pentecost marks the formal beginning of the church’s work. The Trinity explains what we know of God. It’s our faith in a nutshell.
We experience God as the creator of all that is, the first cause. This is God the Father. That’s the first person of the Trinity. We experience God as Jesus; the second person of the Trinity and we experience the Holy Spirit as God’s dwelling amongst us and in us; the third person of the Trinity. None of these persons of the Trinity are intermixed, they are the same but separate and equal. Jesus was truly God and truly man. If each of these persons was created by God, they would not be God. If each of these persons was not separate, they would be lesser than God. How could this be? We don’t know. We only know what we have experienced. The three persons of the Trinity were there from the beginning of Creation. For example, the Holy Spirit inspirited the prophets of the Old Testament. God the Father is the creator and Jesus Christ is the redeemer and messenger of God’s love.
You might say that what we know about God is like a grain of sand on a humongous beach. Lots of explanations of the Trinity are popular. The Trinity is like a three-leaf clover, it is like water, a liquid, a solid, ice and a vapor. The Trinity is like a person who is a wife, mother and scientist. The Trinity is like a book in a writer’s mind, a written word and a spoken word. They are all understandable but they are inadequate. They don’t completely fit the description of the Trinity.
Maybe you have experienced God’s presence in each or one of these ways. I remember driving into Sedona Arizona a couple of months ago and seeing the sun shining on the painted rocks. The experience was awesome. Here was God’s creation in its beauty. Maybe you have experienced Jesus’ voice in prayer. Maybe you have felt the Spirit’s presence while reading the scriptures. Maybe you have felt the Spirit driving you in directions you never thought possible.
What we do know is that God is not a remote hidden God or a God of who sits on a cloud looking down on us and never being involved with us. We know Jesus. God walks with us in our journey through life and He will be there to welcome us when our life’s journey ends. That is our hope. This is a hope that suffuses us with Joy. Joy can also include happiness but Joy is an optimism that allows us to greet each day, good or bad with the understanding that we have a God whose love never fades. This kind of joy never leaves us.
The Trinity is not an intellectual exercise. It is a summary and picture of God’s love. It is a call to us to let the love expressed in the Trinity work through us. We are called to be disciples of Christ. We are individually one person but we act in many different ways to minister to each other. We can be a nurse helping to heal people. We can be a neighbor, bringing groceries to a person who can’t go shopping. We can be a mother nurturing a young life. We can console a friend whose husband just died. We can call upon the Spirit to help us meet tough times. We can listen to music and feel God’s loving touch. We can create a beautiful garden to feed ourselves and others. These acts of love can defeat the chaos of fear and violence and hate that is gripping our country and the world today. We can witness through how we live our lives that we will treat one another with dignity and love. In a confused and divided world, we must bring sanity. This is not just the work of solitary individuals but of all of us. We must ban together as a community of love that speaks the truth in love.
We are people who embrace God as the Trinity. May the gifts of God’s triune presence enter our hearts and dwell there the rest of our lives and in the life to come.