PREFACE: The difficulty with recurring holy days within the church’s calendar is that even relatively new ministers such as myself quickly go through the set readings for the day after only a few years. And while Scripture’s capacity to provide new insights and fresh perspectives from old readings is inexhaustible, I still think it’s advisable to “lie fallow” every now and then and try a different tack. So this year I thought I’d preach about the significance of the day itself, instead of addressing myself to a particular reading. Hopefully, this approach worked!
I have, on a previous occasion, mentioned the fact that developmental psychologists know that a child is developing empathy when that child learns how to successfully tease other children. It’s an insight that sounds too counter-intuitive to be true – afterall, empathy is a good thing, right? But psychologists know that empathy is very much a double-edged sword: being the capacity to understand matters from another person’s perspective, to “stand in their shoes”, as it were, and see things from their point of view, empathy can be used for good or for ill. So, for example, in order for a child to successfully tease another child, the child doing the teasing needs to see the world through their victim’s eyes, to understand their weak points and sensitivities so that the teasing strikes home with maximum effect. And though we mightn’t realize it, it is precisely through the use of empathy that con-artists and confidence tricksters manipulate and defraud their victims. Continue reading “Trinity Sunday: A Sermon”