Sermon for 5/30
May the words my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you O Lord, our strength, and our redeemer. Amen
Today is one of those Sunday’s in the church year everyone has questions about. I don’t know of anyone that can adequately explain the Trinity in terms that are easily understandable. I even looked back at some of my previous sermons on this day and saw that I had either ignored talking about it or had used language we used in semi-nary.
I am reminded of a story I told you about 4 years ago. It was in one of Lewis Gizzard’s books concerning a college professor who gave lectures over the country on bio-physics. He had hired a young man to drive his limousine and to keep him company during the day. After about six weeks on the road, the young man told the learned professor that he had heard the lecture so many times that he could give it and that he would like to do it at the next stop. The professor said OK, but what if they asked a question. The young man said he had heard the lecture and the questions afterward so many times that the professor could be assured he would not make any mistakes.
The professor agreed since he needed a break anyway, so they changed their clothes and the young man took his position up at the front of the lecture hall and the professor back on the back row. The young man began the lecture and did quite well. He asked for questions and easily answered the first two. Then a real nerdy looking man in the front row asked a really difficult question that the young man had no clue about. After stammering for a little while, he told the nerd that that had to be the dumbest question he had ever heard. In fact, it was so simple, he was going to let his driver answer it.
The Trinity is a doctrine. Lutherans use to use the Athanasian Creed on this Sunday. It’s not in our current hymnal but it is in the green one and it takes up a page and a half. It emphasizes the Trinity and if any or you want a copy, I’ll be glad to get it for you. What’s important to most of us about the Trinity is the way it helps us understand and participate in the activity of God in the world.
So how do we learn about the three persons of the Trinity? We read the Bible. When we read, we learn how God loves us. We read how God is active in and with God’s people. Who God is and what God does in the world is revealed in the Words of Scripture.
We learn how God is the creator of everything. In Genesis and Exodus we learn about how God provides for us. In the Gospels, we learn how God redeems us. That is, God saves us; God liberates us from sin and death. In Acts, we learn about how God sanctifies us; God makes us holy. We read how ordinary people burst us from the pages and do extraordinary things.
But no matter how we learn about God or experience God in our daily lives, the Trinity helps us remember the many and various ways God has revealed God’s self in the past and as God will reveal the Divine presence in the future.
Isaiah had an experience or dream. He found himself in the presence of the Lord sit-ting on a throne. He thought he was going to die: “Woe is me! I am lost…” but the Lord blotted out his sin and asked a question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Us? More than one there. Isaiah looked around. He didn’t see anybody else. “Here am I; send me.
In our gospel reading, sometimes known as “Nick at night”. Nicodemus comes to Jesus with Questions. Jesus tells him about spiritual renewal—being born from above, being born of water and Spirit rather than water and blood, hearing the sound of the wind, that is, the Spirit moving about at will.
Perhaps the best way of explaining the Trinity is the way it was explained to the children. There were three people sitting around a table. They were all the same person, but they had different clothes on. God comes to us as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. All the same God, but dressed a little differently so we can experience God in ways we can understand.
We are invited to jump into the work of creation, caring for and bettering the earth, which God made and then placed into our hands for safe-keeping. We are invited to carry on with the task of redemption; taking Christ’s message of love and forgiveness, grace and renewal, to all people in all places. We are invited to live life in the Spirit, being ever more attentive to the intimate presence of God in our lives.
We all have questions. That’s human nature. As the serpent put it in Genesis: Don’t we want to be like God, knowing everything? Questions, questions that, if the answer be given to us we may not understand it. That’s why we live in faith. God didn’t make it difficult for us. Believe, as Jesus told Nicodemus. Believe and have eternal life. The hard part is doing as Jesus commands. Have faith, trust, believe.