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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Sunday, May 18, 2008


Trinity Sunday Year A
May 18, 2007
Trinity, SF

What a pleasure to be with you this morning for Trinity Sunday, our name day. I appreciate the invitation from Bp. Otis Charles to be with you this morning. He knows how to treat a retired rector and make him feel welcome.

Let me tell you an Otis Charles story. He was bishop of Utah for many years and his office was in Salt Lake City. When Ann and I married we often visited SLC to visit her mother and brothers and their families. It is a bit dour, that city. Dour and dry. I called Otis and he invited me to lunch. He took me to his club, the only place in town where could have a legal martini to start a splendid lunch and conversation. That lunch was a memory Oasis site for me visiting SLC. I was grateful then for the martini lunch, conversation and now for this opportunity to preach today.

I calculate that while rector of Trinity I have preached on Trinity Sunday some twenty times, so I should be used to it by now. By the way next Sunday I will preach at the Unitarian Church in Marin. Unitarians separated from The Congregational church because they did not want to believe in the Trinity.

By the way, next Sunday I will preach at the Unitarian Church in Marin County. They separated from the Congregational Church many years ago because they could no longer believe in the doctrine of the Trinity.

Otis and I were baptized, confirmed and ordained in the name of the Trinity. Most of you were baptized and confirmed in the name of the Trinity. The Trinity is invoked many times during our liturgies and every time there is a blessing.

The monotheistic Jewish Christians who began to think about the nature of Jesus had to decide how Jesus could be human and divine and connect to God the father and yet there could only be one God.

They wrestled with the question of how do we know God, what is the nature of God and how does all that connect to Jesus?

After complicated debates the idea of the Trinity emerged.

Our God is the creator of the universe.
Our God is fully realized in the man Jesus.
Our God is always with us giving us power and IN- SPIRATION.

All the same one God known in three facets. Like a prism, one prism, three colors or expressions all in the same prism.

This is a metaphor, not a fact.

What does it mean to us today?

God the Creator - The story of creation – A fabulous story, not scientific fact about how the world came to be. The old Jewish Patriarchs sitting around the campfire telling a story when the children ask, “Where does the world come from?”

Some literalists believe that great story of the creation is historical, scientific and actual fact. You are welcome to do so if you wish. I believe in the reality behind that myth, namely that God created the universe

Jesus. The Healer - Jesus heals the blind, the lame and the sick. What does that mean for us today? Health care for all people in our country.

Phil Diers of this congregation and the late Dr. Ted Winn fought diligently for years for single-payer health plan. The SF Labor Council recently voted to endorse a bill in the California State Senate for a single-payer health plan.

The United Methodist Church has Peace and Justice Parishes. In our church we do not have such designations. Every parish should be loud and clear peace and justice church, a church that stands for health care for all, not just for those can afford it.

That is the work of Jesus the healer in our time.

Then there is the Holy Spirit. The In-Spiration, the power to enliven and excite. God’s Holy Spirit is seen everywhere. Music, architecture, nature, in worship in community and caring for the needs of all.

There is little a parish church can do to change the health care system after stating loud and clear for all to hear that the church stands for health care for all, food for all people, justice of lesbians and gays and all minorities, an end to war and the search for everlasting peace.

But think of the inspirational power of many churches gathered together to work for health care and other issues.
Community Organization has been going on for many years. Marin County Organizing Committee has been gathering church synagogue and foundations to work on specific needs and goals they jointly decided upon. Mental health, shelters and toxic waste sites have found solutions as groups banded together to bring about change.

The Bay Area Organizing committee has been working in San Francisco in the Ingleside and outer Sunset to work on common concerns like parks and recreation centers.

The God of creation and creativity, the Jesus of healing and justice and the Holy Spirit of empowering people to work together can be a new source of the church’s work in the days and years to come.

I close with this story (which I will paraphrase)

A Hero to Jewish Children
A Polish social worker during World War II, Irena Sendler masterminded operations to rescue nearly 2,500 Jewish children from the Nazis by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. Sendler died Monday at 98.

Sendler died at a Warsaw hospital on Monday morning, her daughter, Janina Zgrzembska, told The Associated Press. She had been hospitalized since last month with pneumonia.

Born in Warsaw, Sendler served as a social worker with the city's welfare department, masterminding the risky rescue operations of Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto during Nazi Germany's brutal World War II occupation.

Records show that Sendler's team of some 20 people saved nearly 2,500 children from the Warsaw Ghetto between October 1940 and April 1943, when the Nazis burned the ghetto, shooting the residents or sending them to death camps.

Under the pretext of inspecting the ghetto's sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Sendler and her assistants went inside in search of children who could be smuggled out and given a chance of survival by living as Catholics.

Babies and small children were smuggled out in ambulances and in trams, sometimes wrapped up as packages. Teenagers escaped by joining teams of workers forced to labor outside the ghetto. They were placed in families, orphanages, hospitals or convents.

In hopes of one day uniting the children with their families - most of whom perished in the Nazis' death camps - Sendler wrote the children's real names on slips of paper that she kept at home.

When German police came to arrest her in 1943, an assistant managed to hide the slips, which Sendler later buried in a jar under an apple tree in an associate's yard. Some 2,500 names were recorded.

"It took a true miracle to save a Jewish child," Elzbieta Ficowska, who was saved by Sendler's team as a baby in 1942, recalled in an AP interview in 2007. "Mrs. Sendler saved not only us, but also our children and grandchildren and the generations to come."

After World War II, Sendler worked as a social welfare official and director of vocational schools, continuing to assist some of the children she rescued.

In 1965, Sendler became one of the first so-called Righteous Gentiles honored by the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem for wartime heroics. Poland's communist leaders at that time would not allow her to travel to Israel; she collected the award in 1983.

Despite the Yad Vashem honor, Sendler was largely forgotten in her homeland. Only in her final years, confined to a nursing home, did she finally become one of Poland's most respected figures, with President Lech Kaczynski and other politicians backing a campaign that put her name forward for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sendler is survived by her daughter and a granddaughter.

She used her creative power to save Jewish children
She was a healer as she chose life over death
She was inspired and passionate to organize and find communities of helpers.

This morning I preach to you in the name of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.


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