St. John's, Centreville
June 11, 2017
Trinity Sunday A
Matt. 28:16-20; Genesis 1-2
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Come as the wind and cleanse; come as the fire and burn; convert and consecrate our lives to our great good and your great glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Today is Trinity Sunday, one of the seven principal feasts on the church calendar. Trinity Sunday is different from other feast days because today we are celebrating a church doctrine, a Christian belief about the nature of God and our relationship to God. On other feast days, we celebrate a specific event - the birth of the Christ child at Christmas, the resurrection at Easter, the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. So today is a different kind of celebration, a celebration about the mystery of God.
But why does it matter? Why do we need to know the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit and us? Because each has a relationship with us. And that is what God is all about - relationships. The Trinity shows us the full revelation of God, but as humans we can't begin to understand it all. The Trinity as the full revelation of God is a mystery, one that we will never fully understand. It gives us an awareness of how much more God is, than we can ever begin to comprehend.
We want to know, analyze and explain the Trinity by our intellect, but what we are talking about is a mystery. The early church fathers were trying to describe the indescribable, their own mysterious experience of God. But in the end, words fail because mystery cannot be described by words, but rather by experience.
In our Old Testament reading from the book of Genesis, we hear the first of the two creation stories. God forms the world out of nothing, creating order out of chaos, separating the light from the darkness, the land from the sea, the night from the day. And each thing God created, God called it good. The whole creation was called good by God, even the creation of humans, made in the image of God. God called it good!
God created us because of God's love for us, love that is universal and includes each person that God created. Scripture begins, not with the choosing of Abraham or the election of Israel. It begins with creation, meaning that God is a universal God, not a God of one people or nation or race. God's specialty is loving and caring for all creation, everything that God made. God loves, sustains and cares for the universe and all its inhabitants every day.
If we did not have the Trinity, we would not have a full picture of who God is. In Matthew's gospel, Jesus is sending the disciples out into the world. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." The disciples could not teach and make other disciples without Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Teaching of one and not the other two would be an incomplete picture of who God is.
New disciples needed to know God, the creator of all that was and all that is. God created us in God's image. New disciples would need to know that. They would need to know about Jesus, who was the earthly example of who God is, who taught and healed and forgave and loved; and who was crucified, died and resurrected for us - for our sins, for his love for us. New disciples would need to know that. They would also need to know that after Jesus' resurrection, God sent the Holy Spirit to be with us always, to live in us and through us, to give us the strength and guidance to do what God wants us to do, to live the way God wants us to live, to be the people God wants us to be. We can't do that on our own, by ourselves. We need the Holy Spirit. New disciples would need to know that. And so do we.
That's why we have Trinity Sunday - to remind us of all the ways God interacts with us and the ways God loves us. We are baptized into the whole being of God, whether we understand it or not.
The disciples were sent out not just to baptize, but to make disciples of all the nations. Nations does not mean nations as we know them, but rather foreigners, people who are not like us, Gentiles. Telling this little band of disciples to go out and make disciples of all people is like telling a small church congregation to "go into all the world and cure cancer, clean up the environment, evangelize the unbelieving, and while you are at it, establish world peace."
Obviously, that task is impossible, as was the task assigned to the disciples. They could not do this by themselves so they had to rely on God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And so do we, if we are to do God's work in this world. We need the strength of God, the example of Jesus, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit; three entities of one God.
Episcopal Bishop Dan Edwards writes this in "God of Our Silent Tears": Faith in the unity of the Holy Trinity offers hope in the midst of suffering and evil. "God the Father, as the Serene Center of our reality, is a network of love who sees things from the vast perspective of eternity in which tragedy can be held and contained. God the Son is the compassion of God who understands our experience and loves us enough to share our affliction. Thus our suffering is not diminished but is transformed. As the Divine force that gives and restores life, God the Holy Spirit is present in every situation to revitalize and empower our hope and courage. Thus the combined action of the Trinity working together in us can make all things well. Balancing all three approaches is not always easy but when we respond to suffering in a Trinitarian way, with serene wisdom, vulnerable compassion and life-giving encouragement, our response is both effective and authentic."
The Trinity, in all its mystery, is important to our understanding of the fullness of God. The Trinity is a living awareness that God the Father is for us; God the Son is with us; and God the Holy Spirit is in us always.
May God the Father bless us; may God the Son take care of us; may the Holy Spirit enlighten us all the days of our life. Amen.