Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Trinity Meets Us Along the Way

When I was thinking about preaching on Trinity Sunday in my mind what I saw was people’s eyes glazing over as they nodded off to sleep, and their minds wondering to what they needed to get at the supermarket for their memorial day barbeque, because today is the one day in the church year dedicated to a doctrine and doctrine is not that interesting.
What is it about the trinity that is so important?
Why should any of us care at all about it?

Let me start by saying that it would be impossible to explain the whole doctrine of the Trinity in this sermon.
In fact, to explain to you at all would be impossible.
No one knows the fullness of God.
And anyone who thinks that they do is either a hypocrite or a liar.
Consider what Jesus tells his disciples this morning, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.”
Not even Jesus disciples who walked around with him could know everything about God.
God is revealed to us only in the living of our faith.
In the everyday moments of our lives we experience God’s presence and over time we come to know God more, but in this life never completely.

This is how the Trinity can be helpful to our faith life.
More than a doctrine the Trinity is the way that we experience God.
The first thing about the Trinity is that it is three persons in one God.
What that means for us is that in the very essence of God there is a need for relationship.
There is a mutual sharing of amongst God’s very self.

Just as in our lives there is a deep need for us to be in relationships.
It is scientifically proven that people cannot survive without other people.
Most of you probably know the famous experiment of the two babies.
Both were fed the same amount of food and water, both had all their physical needs met.
The difference was that one of the babies was held every day for a ½ hour.
The other baby was not.
The baby with no physical contact ended up dying.
There have been even more recent experiments with monkeys that show without mothering love they do not develop properly.
As humans we need one another we cannot survive without it.
What the Trinity tells us is that the same is true of our God.
God is about relationship three persons in one God, never divided but always together.

More than this God desires for us to be in relationship with him, and the Trinity is the way God keeps that relationship going.
As the Psalmist writes this morning, “What are mortals that God should be mindful of them, human beings that you should care for them?”
The trinity is the way that we express the ways and means God cares for us.
God creates us, God redeems us, and God continues to sanctify us.
God forms us in our mother’s womb carefully and intricately.
God makes all things new through his Son.
God continues to form us, continues to send us truth and grace.
God for some reason cares deeply about all of us, and sends us reminders all the time.

Jesus this morning tells his disciples, “I will not leave you.”
We are assured that whatever is going on in our lives God will show up.
The Trinity is about God always being part of our life.

This week I did a funeral for a family that is not a member of our church.
The son was telling me about his father who had just died.
He was telling me that his father was a dedicated person.
His father was a firefighter in New York for 35 years.
He was married for 62 years.
He raised three kids, and saw six grandkids be born.
He was dedicated to his country and served in the Navy during WWII.
What struck me was that this man was not extraordinary by worldly standards.
He was not rich or famous.
He was never elected to any office, and was never on the nightly news.
But he did what he was supposed to do in this life.
He was not perfect, as his son told me.
But he showed up.
This is what God does for us all the time.
God shows up.
Maybe it is not in some extraordinary way that all of us would like.

God might not part seas, talk to us in burning bushes, reign down fire from heaven, walk on water, feed 5,000 people.
But this is not evidence of God’s absence.
Because God shows up all the time in the ordinary too.
And the way to explain how and when God shows up is through the Trinity.

At this funeral for example we experienced God’s creative work.
God made that person and formed him into the dedicated man he was.
We experienced God’s redeeming love I told the family that in God’s loving and merciful arms their loved one now rested.
We experienced God’s continuing truth as our hearts were comforted with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
At the funeral God showed up, and it was powerful.
God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were there at that gravesite.

The Trinity is about so much more than a doctrine written a long time ago.
It is about the way we experience God in our lives today.
In your life this week you will experience the Trinity.
God will be there creating, redeeming, and forming you.

This past week I went to visit one of our members who is dying.
He told me that he was ready to meet his maker and savior.
He confessed some of his sins to me.
We prayed together, we shared our faith in God together.
There were no television cameras.
It did not make the nightly news.
But in that time there is no doubt in my mind that God was their forgiving, comforting, and loving.
God Father, Son, and Holy Spirit showed up.
That is extraordinary.
It is what the Trinity is all about.

The Trinity expresses our experience as God’s people.
The trinity in the bible is not a fully formed doctrine.
It is there.
As we see this morning the writers of the Biblical text experienced God in a variety of fashions.
Proverbs reminds us that in wisdom God created all things.
Romans reminds us that God in Jesus Christ gave us peace.
And Jesus tells us that we shall receive continued truth through the Holy Spirit.
All of these experiences of God are brought out in the doctrine of the Trinity.
It is not meant to confine us so much that we cannot talk about God, rather it is meant to help us shape our experiences and put them into the language of faith.

Because as Christians we know that we never fully arrive at some destination here on earth.
Rather the Christian faith is about traveling on the way.
It is about discovering God all the time.
It is about letting God surprise us and lead us into new and interesting terrain.
What we know is that along the way God will always show up.
We know that God is dedicated to us.

That God has created each of us for some reason.
We know that God has redeemed us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We know that the Holy Spirit continues to shape and form us.

So on this Holy Trinity Sunday.
Let us leave here and continue to experience God in our lives.
Let us go on our way and know that God will always show up, because God is dedicated to us.
That God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will meet us on our way loving, comforting, and forgiving us.

1 comment:

  1. Greetings Pastor Jonathan Hopkins

    On the subject of the Trinity,
    I recommend this video:
    The Human Jesus

    Take a couple of hours to watch it; and prayerfully it will aid you to reconsider "The Trinity"

    Yours In Messiah
    Adam Pastor