Monday, June 28, 2010

Setting Our Face Towards the Horizon

Before a child turns one they have to have their car seats in facing away from the front out the back window.
One day I picked up another pastor friend of mine with my daughter Phoebe in the back in her car seat looking out the back window.
He looked at her and said, “Reminds me of my congregation knows where they have been but has no idea of where they are going.”
Jesus this morning in the Gospel reminds us that Christianity is a forward looking faith.
It is a faith that sets its face towards the future.
Not our future but God’s future, and then it does not look back.
It does not retreat to take care of old business left undone like the man who wanted to go and bury his father.
It does not allow us to look back at old grievousness done to us, like the village of Samaritans that reject Jesus.
It does not allow us to recount the things that we have lost, like the man who Jesus warns about not having anything left when we follows him.
Following Jesus means setting our face towards the horizon, towards the future action of God.

The Bible was not merely written for Pastors.
It was written for everyday Christians like yourselves trying to figure out how to follow Jesus.
I say this because one might read today’s Gospel and think that is somehow about the calling of a certain few people to follow Jesus.
But notice that Jesus calls many people to follow him.
I want you to know that everyday Jesus is asking you to follow him.
Jesus is asking you to set your sights towards the horizon, towards a tomorrow that God has prepared for you.

In this morning’s Gospel Jesus has turned his face towards Jerusalem.
Jesus is not looking behind him to the early success of his ministry, but is now focused on what God has called him to do.
I want you to consider this morning what God is calling you this day to do.
What is the tomorrow that God calls you into?
How do you follow Jesus in your life?
We have all heard the sermon about making God the priority in our lives as we follow Jesus in faith.
We have all heard the sermon about following the first commandment.
We have heard pleas from the pastor about coming to Church instead of shopping, sporting events, or other things that pull at our time.
Usually these sermons make us feel guilty.
They make us feel that we have not given enough to church, have not been in Church enough, or have not made our children more Christian.
I know that we all have lots of things in our lives that compete for our time and attention.
I know that coming to worship is just another thing on the list.
So I am not giving that sermon.
I don’t think that is what Jesus is calling us to do.
Jesus is not calling us to add God to the long list of things that we have to do.
Jesus’ call to us is about making our entire life about God.
It is about God encompassing everything we do.
How are we Christians at the ball game?
How are we Christians while we are at the shopping mall?
How are we Christians at our Children’s play?
How are we Christians at our work?
How are we Christians when we are on a date?
At our homes?
If you have every heard me preach you will know that this is a theme I am obsessed with.
Because for too long we came to “Church” for religion, or for God.
But Jesus does not want our lives for only one hour a week.
Jesus wants our lives all the time.
It is why he asks the people who are going to follow him if they are really sure that is what they want.
Because it is easy to come to church once a week, sing a few of our favorite hymns, hear a sermon, drink some coffee, and then be on our way.
What is much harder is living out our faith everyday.
And that is why Jesus warns people that following him will be hard.
Not because we add Jesus to our long list of priorities in our lives, but because Jesus will then be part of everything we do.
And everything we do will be called into question.
How do we spend our money?
How do we spend our time?
What really matters in life?
What should we really care about?
What are things that we are doing that are pulling us away from what really matters?

This is why we are so reluctant to follow Jesus.
This is why we have a tendency to want to look back.
This is why we want to remember a different day when things seemed easier or more successful.
Because we don’t want to deal with today’s problems they are too messy and hard.
We don’t want to think about how God is asking things of us today.
It is more secure to live in the past of things that we know and are comfortable with.

When I was in Germany we went and saw a lot of really beautiful church buildings.
They were awesome to look at.
People would come in and take pictures of the wonderful organ, handcrafted altars, and magnificent pulpits.
In each one of these churches would be a booth with a person behind a plate glass wall selling programs, mugs, postcards, and other things.
The Church was not a place of ministry.
It was not a place where people were coming and going working on the kingdom together.
It was a museum a place to take pictures, and remember the old days.

What a shame.
I wonder about our lives sometimes and if we too don’t become stagnant in our faith.
We become comfortable about what we are doing.
We settle into a groove.
We look back and remember, but our faces are no longer set to the horizon.
We do the thing we did yesterday, we tell stories about the good old days, but we forget about today, and tomorrow.
I know I will fall into this sometimes.
I will wonder why my life is not like it was when I was 8, 16, or 21.
I will look back with fondness on the time when I was young and life seemed uncomplicated.
In fact the other day I was telling someone I missed the days when I did not care about the stock market did.

We all miss days when we were younger, skinnier, in better shape, more healthy, more free, happier, less busy, more at ease.
But today is the day that God has made.
Today is the day we are called to live.
And this day belongs to God.
If you are dying today is still God’s day.
If you are driving your kids to a birthday party, baseball game, to sleep over night at friends house, the movie theater, or whatever this is God’s day.
If you are fighting with your wife today is the day God is asking for your love, patience, self control, gentleness, and forgiveness.
If you are facing something difficult in your life today is the day that God has given you to face it.
Don’t look back.
Don’t dream of a different life.
Set your hands to the plow and look for the kingdom of God.
For in God’s kingdom there is life and life in abundance.
In God’s kingdom there is love.
In God’s kingdom we live to follow Jesus.

Jesus’ face is set towards Jerusalem.
Jesus is looking ahead.
Jesus is heading toward the Kingdom of God, and inviting us to come along.
Jesus is calling us to follow.
I am not sure.
But with trust and faith we take those steps towards another day, and an uncertain future.
There is no time to look back.
No time for petty retribution, no time mourn the dead, no time to wish that things were different.
There is only time to follow Jesus Christ in faith and trust.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Who is this who even forgives sins?

Who is this who even forgives sins?
In our Gospel story for this morning I think we would like to think of ourselves as Jesus.
The truth is that far too often we are more like the Pharisees.
Too often we are the ones who are looking with judgmental eyes on those around us.
Too often we are able to see the grace of God in our lives but are unable to allow its possibility in the lives of others.
We seem unable to believe that Jesus forgives sins.
All sins.
Big sins and small sins.
What we end up with is a Church filled not with followers of Jesus Christ who are ready, willing, and able to see the wonder and beauty in God’s grace offered to all, but instead we end up with a Church filled with hypocrites.

Last week I was reading the book “what’s so amazing about Grace” by Phillip Yancey.
He tells the story of a prostitute who is down on her luck.
In desperation she goes to church to ask for help.
She tells the minister that she needs money so bad that she has been renting out her two year old daughter to men with sexual perversions.
The minister then suggest that perhaps she should come to church.
The woman looks him in the eye and says, “Church why would I go to church I feel bad about myself already.”
She knows that people at Church would judge her.
That Church is no place to find God’s grace.
That is sad to me.
And I know it is sad to many of you.

Jesus this morning teaches us by his actions and through a parable that there is no sin that cannot be forgiven.
In fact, the bigger the sin that is forgiven the greater the love one shows in their own lives.
“The one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”
This is what Church should be a place for sinners to come.
It is a place for the imperfect people of the world.
If you are perfect then you have no need to be here this morning.
This is the place we come to hear again that God forgives our sins.
However great they are God forgives them.
We have trouble with that because we like to play judge.
We like to have God measure up to our standards, and our idea of what is fair and just.
So grace gets put on the back burner for our righteous indignation.

I have a friend who was teaching and introduction to Christian history class at St. John’s University in Queens.
He asked me to come and give a lecture on Lutheranism.
I told the class that Luther’s great idea was that we are saved only by God’s grace and nothing else.
I asked the class to name some things that someone might do that would turn God grace away from them.
No I said God can forgive murder.
No God can forgive rape.
No God can forgive suicide.
I just want to be clear I am not saying that anyone should do any of these things.
I am not saying God wants us to do any of these things.
I am simply saying that God’s mercy and forgiveness does not conform to our view of what God should do.
Clearly the Pharisees thought that if Jesus was a true prophet he would have known what kind of woman this was that was washing his feet with her tears and hair.
But it was preciously because Jesus knew what kind of woman she was that he was welcoming her to the table.
Jesus was showing us the mercy of God.
Jesus was showing us the depths of God’s forgiveness.

After the lecture one of the students came up to me and said, “I think that was a bunch of hooey of course we need to act right for God to love us.”
I think that is often our reaction to the radical nature of God’s love that it does not sound right to us.
That it is just off of our “common sense”.

While at the synod assembly I was hanging out with some other pastors.
We were looking at the indoor pool at the Hotel we were staying at that was in the middle of the hotel rooms.
There was this sign that said if you went into the pool area between certain times an alarm would sound.
We started to wonder if that was true, or just a scare tactic.
When the security guard came around we asked him if it was true.
Then we started talking.
He asked us what it meant to be Lutheran.
We told him that it Luther believed that there was nothing we could do to earn God’s love.
That we didn’t have to do anything to be right with God.
That everything in our lives depended on God’s grace.
The security guard looked at us and said, “that ain’t right!”
Indeed it is so radical a notion that it does seem crazy.

It is the same reaction that the Pharisees had to Jesus.
Jesus who would eat with anybody.
Jesus who would allow a woman, a sinner, to touch him.
That Jesus would offer such a person forgiveness seemed out of whack.
It did not seem right to them.

I would say that to us to it does not seem right.
That our sense of what it fair and right is not always what God thinks about it.

We sometimes act like David.
Who is a sinner, and did a horrible thing, but cannot see it.
We act indignant when we hear of others sins.
How could they have done such a thing!!
Can you believe that!!!
I would never have done such a thing!!!
And yet it is Nathan saying to him, “you are the man!”
We are the people.
We are the sinners.
And thanks be to God that Jesus Christ forgives those sins.
Hopefully we who have sinned deeply also love deeply.
There is that old saying, “the church is not a museum for saints, but a hospital for sinners.”
We would do well to remember that we are the sinners.
We are the man or the woman!

Yes Jesus does have the ability to forgive sins.
Today if you are in hearing this sermon that is the message I want you to leave with.
God through Jesus has forgiven your sins.
Jesus Christ has shown God’s mercy to you.
And if you believe that then it is not such a far stretch to believe that Jesus also forgives those that are prostitutes, those that have cheated on the spouses.
Those who have committed murder, rape, or any other heinous crime.
Those who have done anything that you and I might find destitable.

I think that is a powerful witness in this world.
It is counter-cultural.
Because much of what we think and believe is based on the law.
It is based on results.
It is based on measuring ourselves against everyone else.
Here is the place we come not to measure ourselves, but to throw ourselves at the feet of our savior.
Here we come not to pretend but to admit who and what we are.
Here we come not as we ought, but as we are.
Here we come to have Jesus say to us, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Today let us go in peace knowing that our sins are forgiven and we are saved by Jesus Christ.
Let us offer that same grace to those we meet in the world, so that we might be a witness to God’s amazing grace. Amen

CROP walk! Help End hunger

Monday, June 7, 2010

No Church Vacations!

Summer is here!
We can all feel the change in weather, and we anticipate the slowing of the pace of our lives.
Soon kids will be out of school.
Soon we will be on vacation.
We will take long weekends and weekend trips.
My prayer for all of you this summer is to have time of refreshment, time to relax, time to slow the hurried pace of your lives.
For we all need a Sabbath.
We all need a time to get away and rejuvenated our souls.
God after creating the world needed some time to rest.
Certainly Jesus after a long day of teaching the crowds needed time to get away by himself and refresh.
This is what summer gives us time off.
Even our Church shifts gears.
Today is our last day of Sunday school; things will wind down around the church as it too rejuvenates itself before the torrid pace of fall activities.
However, what cannot happen in the summer time is that we take a vacation from Church.
For Church is always with us.
No matter what we are doing.

Let me explain, the Church is not really a physical thing.
We call what we do on Sunday morning “going to Church”.
But what we are really doing on Sunday morning is going to worship.
Church is an everyday activity.
You see no matter where we are or what we are doing we are the Church.
Because no matter where we are or what we are doing we are disciples of Jesus Christ.
This summer when you are on vacation with your family we are the Church in whatever spot you find yourself.
You are the body of Jesus Christ out in the world.

This morning’s Gospel is about Jesus and his large crowd of disciples visiting a little town.
While there Jesus notices this widow.
He sees her grieving, and probably here need for help.
Without a husband or a son she would have been in great financial need.
Jesus has compassion on her.
Jesus raises her son causing the crowd to say, “God has looked favorably on his people!”
That is one of the great acts of Jesus Christ to have compassion for others.
It is in Luke’s Gospel that we hear a lot about compassion.
We hear it in relation to the Good Samaritan, for the father in the prodigal son.
Compassion is a major element in who Jesus is, and therefore in who God is.
As disciples of Jesus Christ, as the large crowd that also follows Jesus in all aspects of our lives we too are called to have compassion in our lives.
That is no matter where we are or what we are doing.

This summer while you are on vacation think about what it means to have compassion as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to have compassion on your family members who will be with you on vacation?
What does it mean to have compassion on the other people that are also on vacation around you?
What does it mean to have compassion for yourself?

For me every summer was about one thing, Camp Calumet.
There were summers in the 1980’s when my mom would be working on staff and we would get to spend the entire summer at camp.
There were other summers when we would get to spend two weeks camping.
We would leave on Sunday morning to get there in time for church.
And then it would be time to put up the tent or later we had a pop-up trailer.
And that would be the worse time of our vacation, because very year (at least in my memory) my parents would fight while setting up camp.
My Dad would get frustrated because some pole did not fit the way it should, or the pop-up did not pop-up the way it should.
My mom would try to offer a suggestion of how to do it better, and then well we were off to the races.
When I got old enough it became my job to help my Dad put up the pop-up while my mom waited at the beach, and then she would come up from the beach and put clothes away and set up the stove.
This seemed to solve the problem.
Because of this early childhood trauma now when I go camping with my wife and we have to put up the tent we agree in advance not to fight about it.
We both work hard at having compassion for one another and the struggle it is to set up camp.
That is where our Christianity is always worked out on the micro level.
It is lived out in our relationships with family and friends.
If we can’t be a Christian while camping on vacation with our family, then how can we be a Christian anywhere else in the world?

Our Christianity is with us always and everywhere we go.
It is not just confined to an hour on Sunday morning.
This is where we come for the renewal of our souls.
This is where we get the energy, the Holy Spirit to go out and live our faith in the actual world.
And out there in the world is where the important work of being the Church happens, not only in here on Sunday morning.

I was talking once with this church member.
I was telling her about a frustration I was having with a particular company.
I was having trouble talking to a human being, and then getting that human being to respond to what I considered a fairly easy request.
You know when you call a company and you get that long list of options and buttons to push.
“to reach billing press 1. To reach costumer service press 2. To reach technical assistance press 3. To pay your bill or ask about a previous bill press 4. To ask for assistance in completing and filing form number h-945576 press 5. To repeat this message press 6….and so on.”
And then you have to press like five more buttons before you get an actual human being.
Then you finally get this person, and they can’t answer your question or help you in any way because the computer screen in front of them doesn’t have that particular piece of information.
Anyone ever have this experience besides me?
Anyway, I was sharing my frustration with this woman.
She said to me, “I know exactly what you are talking about. I can’t stand that. That is when I lose my Christianity”.
I thought at the time, well we never lose our Christianity.
We are always Christians no matter the circumstances.
I realized that I needed to have more compassion for the people on the other end of the phone.
No matter who answered or what answer they gave me I still needed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
I still needed to follow the example he gave us about having compassion on everyone, all the time, no matter the circumstance.

Think about the compassion that God has on us.
It is often overwhelming.
God forgives all my sins.
God forgives me for the times when I am grumpy, impatient, judgmental, stubborn, and self serving, and that is just the stuff I know about.
Surely I can find my way to compassion for my wife who does not set up the tent the way I do.
I can find compassion for the older man driving slowly on his way to vacation.
I can find compassion for the person in the line at the gift shop who is having trouble finding his credit card.
I can find compassion for the women on the phone in India assisting me with my student loan payments.

We are disciples of Jesus Christ.
We are following him all the time to big cities like Jerusalem, or small towns like Nain.
And there what we see is that God has looked favorably upon his people, and what we attempt to do is find our way to compassion.
So that others will see Christ in us.

This summer may God be with you on your vacation in your relaxing moments, in your Sabbath moments.
And may all of you have compassion and continue to be the Church wherever you are.

ONE (a sermon from the U2charist)

I have a confession to make I don’t always like the Church.
I can trace this back to my youth.
Sunday mornings was always tough on my parents because they had to drag me to church.
I remember getting upset because I had to go to confirmation instead of basketball practice
One of the things that I didn’t like about church was that it was really boring.
Church became more interesting as I got older then something else bothered me about the church there was sometimes, what I thought was, a disconnect between what the church should be about, and what it is about.
Sometime the Church is about other stuff, what color to paint the bathrooms, what hymns we will sing at worship, who sat in the wrong pew on Sunday Morning, who did not do an adequate job of preparing the coffee hour, who said what to whom at the last council meeting.
It seems at time that the church is about the building, worship style, or petty arguments instead of what it is suppose to be about.
I wonder if some of you feel that way?
What the Church is supposed to be about is very simple.
It is suppose to be about love.
Love of God, and deeply connected to that is our love of one another.
In fact, in first John it tells us that, “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars.”
We cannot love God if we don’t love one another.
What I like about the One campaign is that it is about loving one another.
It is all call to all of us supposed disciples of Jesus Christ to live out our faith in concrete action of love for each other.
It is about caring for the poorest in the world, and loving them by helping them to have justice.

The One campaign comes from the U2 song, One. (Which we will sing together at the end of the sermon)
The lyrics are this,
Love is a temple.
Love is the higher law.
We get to carry each other.
The words are we get to carry each other.
It does not say we have to carry each other.
It says that we get to love one another.
We get to share each other’s heartaches and pain.
It is a privilege and a gift to be able to care for aand love one another.
It is not a problem to overcome, nor a nuisance we have to face, but we get to love one another.
Thanks be to God.

Because the question we should struggle with is why does the person in Africa, Iraq, El Salvador, or Haiti matter to me?
Why do I care about people who live half way around the world?
The One campaign is about being an activist for the millennial goals.
Those goals are about eradicating extreme poverty, curing HIV/AIDS, getting every child a good education, caring for our environment, helping women around the world (who often feel the effects of poverty and war the most) obtain a sustainable life.
Why should you care about millennial Goals?
Why should you who live in New Hampshire, you who are relatively rich in comparison to others in the world care about any of this?

There are many answers to this question.
Some of it is very practical.
The less poverty there is the world the more stable the world is this means less wars in far off countries we have to fight.
When people have their basic needs met they tend to do things like go to school, and learn, they tend to grow in their understanding of the world.
In getting rid of poverty we create fewer extremists and help our own defense.
So there is a practical reason to help those who are the poorest in the world.

But there is a deeper reason.
There is a spiritual reason.
Without caring about others we are stuck in the miry bog.
We forget the privilege we have in helping others in carrying their pain as our pain.
When the church is simply about ourselves we end up with empty religious gestures.
With empty religious showings we are stuck in the miry bog.
God does not desire for us to give our empty prayers.
But desires from us to love and to have justice.
And love and justice are always tied together.
We cannot say we love someone and then not care if they are fed or not.
We cannot say we love our brothers and sisters and not care if they get bitten by a mosquito that can kill them.
And we cannot say that we love God if we don’t love and care if people suffer no matter where they live.
Love is a higher law.
Love is a temple.
It is greater than anything else to us as Christians as followers of Jesus Christ.

I am curious how many of you here tonight have been in another country?
If you have not I want to encourage you to travel to some other country.
I want to encourage you to go on a mission trip, or an alternative spring break where you serve other people in another country.
I garuntee that your life will be changed by the experience.
You will find something very interesting when you travel.
People are people no matter where you go.
We all share in a common humanity.
We all share a common bond.
It is a bond of love.
We all desire love.
We all desire to be loved.
We are all one!

We might dress different, eat different food, worship different, talk different languages.
But all that is window dressing to what is really in our hearts as human beings.

About 10 years ago I traveled with a group of people to El Salvador.
It was a trip that changed my life.
It changed the way I thought about the world.
It changed the way I thought about poverty.
Before that trip I thought of poor people as people to help.
As people to be pitied because they did not have what I have.
I don’t think that anymore.
I think of the people I met on that trip.
I think of Madardo Gomez the Bishop of the Lutheran Church in El Salvador.
I think about how he had us to his home for a wonderful authentic El Salvadorian.
I remember how he told us about his struggle for justice in his country, about how he was tortured during the war in El Salvador, because he spoke out against the government and it’s oppression of the people.
I think about Miguel a poor rural farmer who sat with us in the El Salvadorian countryside talking about the injustice of the policies of the International Monetary fund.
Because of that trip this is the face of poverty in my mind.
Now, when I think of people in third world countries I think of competent people who need more than our charity they need our voice.
They need us to love them enough to speak out for justice.
Leaving El Salvador the people told us the best thing we could do to help El Salvador was to be a witness to what we had seen.
Tonight I want to be that witness to all of you.
Recently I heard a speech from an activist in Africa at a Christian Conference in Germany.
In his remarks he begged us to stop sending AID to Africa.
He told us that we are dumping our left overs and trash into Africa.
Instead he encouraged us to speak for justice.
I want to encourage you to follow the higher law of love.
That means not merely being charitable.
It means being a voice for the poor and voiceless.

I want to warn you that this is not always easy.
We get lost often in our own agenda.
Our daily lives take over.
In the midst of things that need to get done we can easily forget those not right in front of us.
That is why tonight is such a great night.
It reminds us of what it means to be the people of God.
It reminds of what it means to be the church and to follow Jesus Christ in our daily lives.

As we leave let us commit ourselves to love.
Let us commit ourselves to One humanity, One planet, and One love.
Let us allow Christ love to be manifest in our cries for justice.
In doing we get out of the miry bog and plant our feet securely on the rock of Jesus Christ.

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.