Trinity Sunday and Confirmation of Jacob Cook
May 26, 2013
John 16: 12-15 and Romans 5: 1-5
OK, settle down and make yourself comfortable, now. I’m going to take about 20 minutes to explain the doctrine of the Trinity and how it shaped our history as the Christian Church, over against the accepted mono-theistic teachings of Judaism in the first through the fourth century CE (common era), and why you should be clear about how that applies to you.
Well, not really. DC would just accuse me of showing off. I remember so well my shock at the earliest history of the Church we have come to know and love. I went into the class prepared to have the instructor show me how we all started out believing the one, right thing before things fell apart and people began to argue about what’s the really right thing to believe and how our faith really works. It turns out that the first 400 years of church history were a real mess. And the major struggle seemed to be figuring out who Jesus really was in relation to who God was. If you had been a faithful Jewish believer who worshipped the one and only true God, the Lord of Hosts, how could you accept that anyone else could be God, too? Was Jesus a specially-created unique being that God the Father sent to show God’s love and teach us a newer way to understand the God of the Hebrew Bible? Was he just God with a human suit that he put on so that he could walk around with us unnoticed and teach us? If he was really all God, how could he really be all human, too? The creeds we say together on Sunday mornings were the results of those struggles, and tell us what was finally agreed on about how God could be Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the One God that we believe in.
Doesn’t that answer most of your questions? No, mine either. Is God the powerful Creator, far above the heavens, swirling light and darkness into a world that awes and amazes us with both its complexity and beauty? Yes, oh yes. Is God close enough to us to be in each breath we take so that we are never alone, even when we are lost and confused and in pain? Yes, oh yes. We know that God, don’t we? Does the Scripture tell us that God loves us with Fatherly love, proud of our accomplishments and expecting us to do the right thing? Yes. Does the Scripture tell us of a God who loves like a mother, holding us and comforting us when we are afraid and wounded. Yes.
Jesus is the perfect shepherd, laying down his life for us, and he is the sower of God’s Word in our hearts to give us roots in God’s love that never fails. Jesus is teacher, healer, host, forgiver, interpreter of God’s will for humanity. He is also powerful enough to stand up to misinterpretation, political manipulation, torture, and death, defeating them all by coming back to life and addressing his followers in person once again.
The Holy Spirit lurks in the shadows of the Hebrew Bible as Wisdom, as the Angel of the Lord, and comes to full recognition in Jesus’ baptism. Jesus promises that Spirit as the continuation of his presence with us. The Spirit is the teacher, the interpreter and the bearer of hope in the world. We know that Spirit when we turn to God in prayer and find the words we didn’t know how to speak are there in our hearts. We know that Spirit when we are able to comfort a friend, or offer a word of hope when all seems hopeless. We know that Spirit when we lift our voices in a community and find ourselves struck to the heart with a joy that remains with us. We know that Spirit when the words of Scripture we read jump off the page to talk straight to our questions and fears.
Who loves you, is our question, too. There are as many ways to know God’s love as there are to be conscious. That is God, the mystery. A God so big that you can’t pin him or her or it down. A God that shows up when you least expect, and a God that is always there. A God of scary power, implacable judgment, embracing and constant love. It is a God we did not invent or invite. But rather, it is a God who comes to us.
In spite of all we do to offend, ignore, and disrespect God, God comes back and back again to lift us, to love us, and to give us hope.
We meet that God here today in each other. Each of us bearing that scattered seed of God’s Holy Word in the gifts of presence we bring to this solemn assembly. We meet that God in the love that we have for this young man who has grown up in our midst. We have watched his character grow and change within our community, and we have prayed for him and his family as one of our own. And so on this Sunday when we marvel at the mystery of God out there (the universe) and in here (our hearts), we lift up all those who walk by faith, who come week after week to hear about God’s love and power and who go back out again to live that love in the world because it is a world that God loves. Amen.
Now may the peace of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ our Lord. Amen.How