A Thriving Spiritual Community

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

A Thriving Spiritual Community

photo of AVC sanctuary
Sermon: Ocean & Trinity Sunday Sermon: A Divine Self-Disclosure

Ocean & Trinity Sunday Sermon: A Divine Self-Disclosure

June 4, 2023


Let’s go on a spiritual journey together… a journey of discovery into inexhaustible mystery, the divine self-disclosure that beckons us through the sea.  

Please close your eyes, if you are comfortable doing so.  Begin to breathe slowly and deeply, in and out, in and out.

Imagine that you are standing on a favorite beach at the edge of the sea.  The sun is beating down, warming your skin; the water ebbs and flows, its cool delight washing over your bare feet.  Sinking into the peace of the moment, you allow the sea to show you how to breathe; how to take in and receive the spirit of life. You breathe in, as the waves cascade into the sand. You breathe out, as they recede back to sea.  Breathing with the sea, you are at peace. 

Standing at the shore, the sea beckons you to slow down. To simply be present; to pay attention to the gifts she offers you. Below you, see the knotted kelp, washed ashore, coming alive again with jumping bugs. Notice the signs of clams breathing beneath the surface. See the small crabs, washed ashore.  There are stones and shells, and tiny sea bird prints in the sand. Overhead, watch the gulls soar …their free spirits, freeing yours. 

These are offerings to your soul, inscribed with invisible, indelible ink. At the sea, you can hear God speaking to you through all of it. These marine messengers seem to say to you, “Remember: you are here, alive. And so am I. You are a part of all that is, and we are a part of you. Feel yourself as part of the all-embracing love of God.  Feel yourself as part of the all-embracing love of God.”

Deep within, you feel the truth of who you are in relation to God and who you are in relation to God’s creation – intimately and inextricably connected.  Fully and completely at home. Abiding in peace, love, and joy. Alive, renewed, feeling the spark of spirit within. At one. (pause)

Please open your eyes, watch, and listen as our sea journey continues deeper…Calypso

My God. That is so beautiful. What an awe-inspiring, wondrous gift.  In the guided meditation, we sensed just some of what we can see and feel with our own eyes and bodies by the sea. Through the work of underwater explorers, like Jacques Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, vast, awesome, mysterious worlds are shown to us, offering a window into the vast, awesome mystery of  God.

If we pay attention, the sea will reveal to us more of who God is and who we are. Maybe that is why artists, musicians, storytellers, sailors and all of us are drawn to her.  Sit next to the sea, and she will hold your hand. The ocean itself is a prayer, a prayer that we long to share in. She’ll move you to tears with a perfectly timed dorsal fin: a distant whale in motion. She’ll show you exactly how to enjoy your life. Step one: watch how the seal plays. Step two: Be like the seal.  The sea gives us life. 

Now imagine, again, that you are standing at the edge of sea, taking a closer look at the sand beneath you. Do you also see the shiny blue, yellow and red plastics? The broken and not so broken down trash? 

The recklessness we unleash on the sea, on this magnificent gift of God,  has no choice but to return to us. As we hurt her, she hurts us. Our plastics end up debilitating and destroying the sea life that enchant and sustain us. The ocean is essential to maintaining life (as we know it) on earth. There is no Ocean B.

Eco-spiritual writer Gabrielle Poli offers, “Our seas are suffering from an illness, a heartbreak, a broken relationship with her people. She is fighting off the illness of inconsideration. Of course, in the process, we are breaking our own hearts too.” 

Reflecting on the meaning of Trinity Sunday, theologian Matthew Myer Boulton offers, “Relationships are who we are… If our relationships are healthy, then we’re healthy. If they’re not, then we’re sick, and require healing and restoration.”  This is true in our personal relationships, political relationships, and in our most fundamental relationship – our relationship with the creation. 

Tragically, our relationship with the ocean has not been caring or respectful.  Noted marine biologist Sylvia Earle critiques our extractive attitude of “taking, taking, taking.”  She challenges us to understand that “We should act as if our lives depend on a healthy ocean—because they do.”

This means that it is past time that we give back. To clean up the mess we made. To heal all that can be healed. We must do this. The ocean regulates our climate, provides the air we breathe, food, jobs, and recreation. The ocean is the largest ecosystem on Earth, and it is the planet’s life support system. With every breath we take, every drop we drink, we’re connected to the ocean. 

The great sea explorer, Jacques Cousteau, encourages us:  “If we were logical, the future would be bleak, indeed. But we are more than logical. We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.”

Below and included in the daily email are suggestions from Peg Brady, our Creation Care Team co-chair and the NOAA Fisheries Ecosystem Science Coordinator for what you can do to make a difference. 

The sea is God’s life giving gift to us, disclosing the very nature of God to us. May we stop treating her like a garbage dump and begin caring for her as the holy mother of all of us that she is. Amen. 


Intertidal Incarnation” by Gabrielle Poli

“Relationships are Who We Are: Commentary on Trinity Sunday” by Matthew Myer Boulton

World Ocean Day Resources: https://unworldoceansday.org/about/

“Why the Ocean Matters” education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/why-ocean-matters/ 

HOW YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE SEA by Peg Brady, AVC Member and NOAA Fisheries Ecosystem Science Coordinator

Reduce Use of Plastics

Plastic continues to be a very significant pollution problem affecting the oceans & marine living marine resources in so many ways. Despite all the information about its impacts there does not seem to any decrease in plastic production and use.  Researchers estimate the 137 million tons of single-use plastics were produced from fossil fuels in 2021, and it is expected to rise by another 17 million tons by 2027.  This is an issue that can be addressed by all of us in how we purchase items, use in our households, etc. in addition to working to eliminate single-use plastics.

Support Land & Ocean Protection initiative entitled “America the Beautiful”:

Pres. Biden created an Exec. Order (EO) which is entitled “America the Beautiful”.  The EO established a first-of-its-kind national goal of conserving 30 percent of U.S. lands & oceans by 2030 (often referred to as 30×30). The Admin. expanded on this initiative by focusing investments and collaboration that will:

  • Create more parks and safe outdoor opportunities in nature-deprived communities.
  • Support Tribally led conservation and restoration priorities.
  •  Expand collaborative conservation of fish and wildlife habitats and corridors.
  •  Increase access for outdoor recreation.
  •  Incentivize and reward the voluntary conservation efforts of fishers, ranchers,  farmers, and forest owners.
  •  Create jobs by investing in restoration and resilience projects and initiatives, including the Civilian Climate Corps.

Support, advance, participate in & advocate for Ocean Literacy for all ages:

Ocean literacy, “an understanding of the ocean’s influence on you—and your influence on the ocean”, is seen as the core foundation that society esp. our leaders need in order to make informed and responsible decisions regarding the sustainable management of the ocean.  There are so many great organizations for all ages based in the New England region as well.  Here are just a few resource suggestions:

  •  Sea Education Association
  •  Shoals Marine Lab
  •  Massachusetts Marine Educators
  •  GMGI (Creation Care Field Trip Thursday, June 8th at 4:30 p.m.) 
  •  NOAA Teachers @ Sea program
  •  NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarships 
  •  NOAA Sea Grant Knauss fellowships