Holy Trinity Sunday, year A, 2014 (preached June 15, 2014)
first reading: Genesis 1:1-2:4a
second reading: 2 Corinthians 13:11-13
gospel reading: Matthew 28:16-20
This morning we celebrate the feast of the Holy Trinity. And this feast of the Church has a special place in our liturgical life, because it is the ONLY feast day we Lutherans have that celebrates a DOCTRINE of the Church.
All the other festivals in the liturgical calendar celebrate people – like St. Luke – or remember important events – like the Conversion of St. Paul – but this is the ONLY one we have for a doctrine.
And we do this because the Holy Trinity is the central doctrine of our Christian faith. A doctrine to which all of us who call ourselves Christians subscribe. A belief we confess every time we say our creeds. In this feast of the Church, we celebrate the unity of all the “persons” we know God to be: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This is one of the great mysteries of our faith – how God manifests God’s self to us in three very different ways – and yet is just ONE.
No one has been able to fully explain it, and I think that’s a good thing. It may be frustrating for some – even a stumbling block, but I don’t know why, because if we could understand everything about God, than that would just about make us equal to God wouldn’t it?
I LIKE that God is SO much more than I can comprehend. A god I can completely figure out is a god that is too small for me.
It doesn’t make for an “easy” faith though – it’s not easy to have to live with unanswerable questions – that’s the difference between faith and knowledge.
But we still try, as best we can, to explain things like the Trinity – and we should. It’s important for us to examine what we can about God’s nature. It’s good to be curious. But even in our attempts, we ultimately need to acknowledge that God is God, and WE are NOT – and that there are things that are properly “above our pay grade.”
The closest example I’ve heard that is closest to the how the Trinity “works” is WATER. H20. Two Hydrogens and 1 Oxygen – that doesn’t change. But the way we experience water is drastically different.
Liquid water nourishes and cleanses our bodies. Solid, or frozen, water helps preserve things and give us relief from heat. Too much water as a gas, or vapor, makes us feel sticky in the summer, while too little in the winter creates static. Very different functions for the same substance.
But even that comparison isn’t perfect because water can’t be all three at once. Only God can do that. In then end we’re left with a sacred mystery.
Now, because I’m a practical, “where the rubber hits the road” kind of person, I don’t want just a mystery. If I’m going to have to live with a mystery, I want it to MEAN something. I want it to have some VALUE.
I don’t want this “Trinity” business to just be some mental exercise in futility. That would be a huge waste of time and energy.
One of my clergy friends (@RevDaniel) summed it up perfectly. He wrote: “It’s less important to understand the doctrine of the Trinity than it is to live in the dynamic of it.” Soak that in: “It’s less important to understand the doctrine of the Trinity than it is to live in the dynamic of it.”
The mystery of the Trinity is that our God is “Three in One” – the Creator of all that is, the One who saves us, and the Power that guides and informs our lives.
The good news is that while our God is almighty and powerful, the Creator of all that is and is to come – our God is also willing to suffer on our behalf, to have mercy on us, to proclaim that GRACE trumps judgment, light overcomes darkness, and life comes from death.
And the good news is that God doesn’t just create and save us – God is with us still, intimately, with each and every one of us here, and ALL of us everywhere, and active in the world.
We are not left orphaned. As we hear in today’s gospel, God is WITH US “to the end of the age,” – as in “forever and ever.” We don’t need to search for God, because God is always with us.
God sees the big picture but is ALSO present in the details. God is where we eat, where we study, where we worship. God is where we work, where we play, where we sleep. God is where we suffer, where we struggle.
God is with us in our hopes, God is with us in our fears. God is with us in our joys and in our pain, in our anxiety and our calm, in our sickness and in our health. God is with us in our most public of actions, but also in our most private thoughts and feelings.
There isn’t one minute, not one instant, where God isn’t intimately involved in loving and being present with you and me.
I don’t know HOW God can be that all-knowing about me, about each one of us here, and about every person on earth at the same time. I don’t know HOW God could be a PERSON who lived and DIED and rose again. I don’t know HOW God can “BE” in bread and wine and water to make us new.
But I have faith, as imperfect as it is, that what God promises is true.
This is living “in the dynamic” of the Trinity. This is the good news of our faith: that our God is a “WITH US” God – creating us, loving us, forgiving us, strengthening us, carrying us, saving us, uniting us – with us always – as Father, Son and Holy Spirit – “to the end of the age.”