Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Trinity

May 27, 2018
Holy Trinity Sunday
John 3:1-17

Who is God? What is God? How do we know God?
That has been a question for humanity since the beginning of time,
whether they called God, God or by some other name.
People have known that there was something or many things,
that created and ordered everything, and we’ve always wanted
to know more about it.

Today in the Christian church we celebrate
what we know and believe about God
the doctrine of the Trinity, 
which often leaves us
with more questions rather 
than all the answers.
We believe that God is one, 
but is also three,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.
God, Jesus, and the Spirit. 
However you want to say it.

Some of you who have been 
going to church a long time
may remember reciting the 
Athanasius creed it’s one of the three creeds that we adhere to in the
Lutheran church, but we don’t say it as much as the other two.

If you don’t know it, it’s kind of long and repetitive
and doesn’t really trip of the tongue like the others.
The people who made the new hymnal didn’t even
put it in there this time, which was probably a good choice.

I’ve actually had nightmares about
leading a congregation and everyone losing their place
and the whole service disintegrating into chaos.

The Athanasius creed and the other creeds we use
are from the third and fourth century.

The Athanasius creed explains how
God and Jesus and the Spirit are one,
but they are distinct and each part
always was and always will be.

This was a time in the church when having the right
understanding about the nature of God and Jesus
was very important to Christians,
it basically decided your faith.

And the Athanasius creed does start with the lines:
“Whoever desires to be saved
should above all hold to the catholic faith.
Anyone who does not keep
it whole and unbroken will doubtless perish eternally.”

Thankfully we’ve moved to another place today.
Where adhering to whole and unbroken doctrine,
is not as important as trust in God
and questioning and understanding.

But all in all, I’m glad that Athanasius was so
insistent on this and that the doctrine of the Trinity
has been handed to us, and that it is part of our faith,
because it tells us something very important
about the nature of God and who God is for us.

First we have God the creator, the
all powerful and vast director of everything.

In the first reading today, we heard
Isaiah’s description of God.
God so enormous and unimaginable,
that the hem of God’s robe fills the whole temple.
This part of God is beyond our seeing and our understanding.
The almighty creator of the universe
Who controls the seas and the mountains,
who set the planets and stars in motion.
Wholly other and beyond us.
But still who knows all the hairs on our head and loves us.

And then we have God who is Jesus, a real person
who could hold a conversation with Nicodemus.
A living, breathing, suffering person.
Who stood up to authority and cared for the weak.
Who felt the  loneliness, sadness, joy, and sweetness of life.
who knew the desperation and brutality of this world
and also the wonders it held.
God, a real person who you could touch and smell, and hear.

He is one in the same as God the Father,
if you want to know the mind and heart of God the creator
then just pay attention to God the redeemer in Jesus.

And we have God the Spirit who
is so close to us, she seems to be a part of us.
Jesus says “we are born of the Spirit and we are Spirit.”
Paul tells us that the Spirit gives us the words to pray.
We know and are a part of God the Spirit
that challenges us and comforts us
that lives in us and moves through us.
That the Sprit groans in us, and makes us long for home.
And the Holy Spirit is God too.
God: creator, incarnate, and breath of life.

The doctrine of the trinity tells us that we have a God
who is all powerful, who is human, and who is part of us.
All together at the same time.

A God who is vast and unknowable,
and yet can touch us and move in us.

St. Augustine, another third century
church father, described the Trinity like this:
“Now, love is of someone who loves,
and something is loved with love.
So then there are three:
the lover, the beloved, and the love.”

And as Jesus tells Nicodemus,
this three is brought to us by the power of love.
God so loved the world that God
uses every way to reach us and be with us.

God, in God’s self, is a relationship.
A table for three.
Not two, so you might feel strange joining in.
But a table for three. The beginning of a party.
At a table for three, there’s always room for one more.
There’s always room for us.
We are always welcomed to that table.

This three in one God is the soul
that brings us together
that eternal thread that keep us connected beyond
physical separation and even death.
Each part dependent on the other.
Each one existing for the other,
God’s identity is defined in its relationships.

This trinity is a relationship of love.
God the Relationship
is the foundation of the universe
it is the heartbeat of all creation.

As Athanasius said in his creed:
We worship one God in trinity and the trinity in unity,
    neither blending their persons
    nor dividing their essence.
        For the person of the Father is a distinct person,
        the person of the Son is another,
        and that of the Holy Spirit still another.
        But the divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one,
        their glory equal, their majesty coeternal.

Everything begins and ends in this relationship that is God.
All creation is part of this dance.
We are all part of it:
Each one of us separately and together
distinct and different,
and at the same time one.

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