How would we have ever learned God’s name if it were not for another person of the very same God, One Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ?
I begin by wishing each and every one of you a Happy Holy Trinity Sunday that is certainly coming up this Sunday. It’s a great day for me because I get to tell you how marvelous and magnificent and wonderful our God really is, and you get to just sit there and soak it all in.
Over the years, I found that most of my colleagues in the ordained ministry seem to dread Trinity Sunday, and I even found that many of them simply ignore it altogether. They seem to be afraid of the Doctrine of the Trinity, some thinking it too lofty to make for good preaching. But if the truth really snuck out, I think they tremble at the thought of accidently slipping into some form of 4th century heresy as they try to interpret this otherwise foundational tenet of our faith.
But you know me, I don’t think I’ve done anything lofty since about 1978, and I’ve always found heresy somewhat seductive . . . everything in moderation of course.
Sometimes when preachers begin expounding on what I think is the essential beauty of our Triune God, it sounds more like the instructions for setting the clock on your DVR than it does theology.
I came across a modern version of the Twenty-Third Psalm that is a laughable caricature of the over use of technical jargon in theology today.
It goes like this: The Lord and I are in a shepherd-sheep relationship, and I am in a position of negative need. He prostrates me in a green belt grazing area, and conducts me directionally parallel to a non-torrential aqueous liquid.
Notwithstanding the fact that I make ambulatory progress through the non-illuminated inter-hill mortality slot, terror sensations shall not be observed within me due to the proximity of the omnipotent; your pastoral walking aid will introduce me to a pleasurific mood state. My beverage utensil experiences a volume crisis.
I think you get the idea. Sometimes being precise isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
The other common mistake when preaching on the holy Trinity is to treat all of us like children. I’ve heard the Trinity explained using metaphors like water (solid, liquid and steam), eggs (yoke, white and shell), pizza (cheese, sauce and dough). Here’s the best of all: NEAPOLITAN ICE CREAM, chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. They are three different flavors but still one ice cream. I guess someone put chocolate syrup on top and that’s how we got a Trinity Sunday.
The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is honestly not that difficult. The doctrine was born out of experience; it should be experienced rather than explained away.
Let’s go back in time. Let’s go back to the beginning together. Genesis tells us that God created the heavens and the earth. Scientists tell us that each of the individual elements that make up our organic life came into existence because of a supernova-like explosion. Those same scientists go on to tell us that the first few seconds of that blast were critical; it was all in the timing.
Firstly, the temperature had to be within one degree of what it was, ONE DEGREE out of millions of degrees. This explosion had to be moving at exactly the right speed and force for our earth to evolve as a separate planet. If any one of the elements present had been missing or even slightly altered, then the conditions necessary to give birth to life as we know it would have never become reality. If that’s a coincidence, then I must agree with whoever said, coincidences are simply God’s way of remaining anonymous.
Only OUR God could possibly do the work of a fine jeweler in the midst of a cosmic fireball! God’s vision is so perfect . . . so well ordered . . . so potentially efficient.
So what if that is where it had all stopped? How would we come to understand our God? The God of Creation obviously has being and volition and will; God is a person, but how would we have ever learned God’s name if it were not for another person of the very same God, One Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ?
A little boy was heard answering the phone. It was someone wanting to talk with his mother. The little boy said to the person on the other end, I’m sorry sir, my mother is in the hospital. The child went on to say, The twins, Jimmy, Jane, Bobby, Susan, the Dog, Dad and me are here all alone.
We know that are not alone, but if it were not for Jesus, would we not still be saying what all those Israelites were thinking as they made their way down to John the Baptist at the river’s edge?
We’re all here, but we’re all alone.
Is it too much for us to picture this immortal, invisible, God only wise, . . . stopping to wonder. . . wondering how that vision might come out of the heavens, how the very WORD of God might become personal.
God’s answer? Let the Vision . . . let the Word, if you will, become flesh such that all that encompasses my nature will become his nature. Let it be so . . . and it happened just like that some 2,000 years ago.
How is Jesus God? It’s very simple arithmetic . . . If you take what the Creator envisioned for Jesus from the beginning and subtract what Jesus became, the difference is exactly ZERO! As far as I know none of the rest of us can ever claim that . . . Jesus really is the UNIQUE son of God.
That is what it means to say that the Son is in the Father . . . and the Father is in the Son, and the Father and the Son are one. As someone once wrote, All of God does all that God does.
The personality of the Son was necessary in order to show us that the God of Fire who lights up the universe with the power of love is the same God who says, Forgive them — from a wooden Cross.
This God who separates night and day, and the heavens from the oceans is the same God who washes the dusty feet of his followers.
The God whose power spans billions of galaxies is the same God who invites us to the table on Sunday mornings with the words, Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you.
And finally, in order for God to be with us in Jesus, Jesus had to be fully human. That means Jesus had to take on all our human qualities.
That means that even Jesus must succumb to the temporalness of the body, just as the rest of us do. It couldn’t be any other way and still be incarnational.
But remember, the God who said, Let there be light, is the same God who said, I will not leave you desolate. I will send a helper. I will somehow be with you until the end of the age.
Should we be surprised that God found a way to continue to be personal even after Jesus of Nazareth ascends as the Risen Christ? I don’t think so. The Holy Spirit is the way. What a unique concept. You see, GOD IS GOING TO BE PERSONAL! And if it takes THREE PERSONS to be personal, then so be it.
I told you God was marvelous and wonderful and magnificent! It seems to me that we have one thing to do this Trinity Sunday, and that is to celebrate with all our hearts our loving God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to, as the great hymn suggests, Cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise.
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