Old Testament Reading- Psalm 29
New Testament Reading- Romans 8:12-17
By Henry J. Rafferty CLP -May 30, 2021, Trinity Sunday
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-14
These beautiful words, that form the first passages of the Gospel of John are telling of the divine nature of Jesus that the Apostle John wants all of us to know about Christ right from the start. In the last six months we have been hearing about Jesus from His birth, to His prophecies, to His ministry, to His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His foretelling of the Spirit of God being sent to the believers. All of these things culminate today on Trinity Sunday. The Trinity of God is not an event in Scripture, but the meaning of all of it. The fullness of God rests in the Trinity-God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Christians do not worship multiple gods or three gods as some would believe we do. We believe in one God, God Almighty that eternally exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This belief binds all Christians together and if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t claim the truth in the Holy Trinity, they lie outside of Christianity, and you would be wise to not listen to anything they have to say about matters of faith. Do not take what I just said as a way to mistreat or demonize someone, they may be misguided or have lost their way but be careful of their theology and their teachings. Maybe they could be a stumbling block in your faith life or maybe they have been placed in your life so that you may witness the truth of Christ to them. The Lord works in mysterious ways, mysterious but wondrous.
"The Trinity of God is not an event in Scripture,
but the meaning of all of it."
Mystery is a word that our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters use often in their writings about God and His ways. His ways truly are a mystery. How do we explain everything about God and what He does in a way that we can fully understand? The short answer is, we can’t, it is a mystery, or we say, God works in mysterious ways. These statements are true, and they are not a dodge from a question, they are just a fact. In matters of faith, we often feel the truth, even if we cannot explain it. I love my wife, but I can’t prove it or understand it in the truest sense of the word, but it is not made up, it is the truth. When we love someone, we often can’t explain it, but that doesn’t make it any less real. Being a Christian can be like that sometimes, I can’t always explain why I feel the way I do about my faith, but I know that I believe, and God is continually at work to strengthen that belief. This can seem a bit simplified, but if you were standing outside with a small child and you can both feel the
breeze on your faces and the child asks, “What is that I feel on my face?” “The wind,” you say. "What is the wind?” asks the child. “The wind is the wind,” you say. What
else can you say? How do you explain the wind to a small child other than naming what we feel? You can’t see it, taste it, or smell it, but you can often hear it and you can definitely feel it, so you know it exists. It can be the same with the Holy Trinity, we can’t always explain it, but we can sense it, and see it in all of creation. We can see it and read about it in Scripture, but it is still not easy to explain.
I have often used water as an example to at least explain the forms of the Trinity. Water comes in three distinct forms: liquid, gas, and solid. We know that water can be in these three forms, and we know that all three forms are different, but we have no problem accepting that they are all H2O, water. God is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, three distinct forms or persons, but still one God.
One of the big differences in our analogy is that water can take three forms, but it cannot be all three forms at one time, God can and is all three at once. Hard to wrap your head around, I know, but as I said before, we can feel it before we can explain it, God gives us that.
Listen to this passage of Scripture from John 14 that we talked about last week, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“You heard me say, ‘I am going away, and I am coming back to you.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. John 14:1-28
This passage of Scripture says a lot, but it also explains why Christians feel the way we do about the Holy Trinity. Jesus refers to specific identities, the Father, the Spirit, and He refers to Himself, the Son. He also tells us that He is one with the Father and that the Father will send the Spirit in Jesus’ name to those who believe. He also says that the Father is greater than Himself. This can be very confusing to some people and is often revealed to us as we gain more faith. How can Jesus say that He and the Father are one, but then say that the Father is greater than He is? The answer is forms or persons. Think about one of our favorite hymns, and what the words say: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. God in three Persons, Blessed Trinity. There is an old visual symbol that is very well known in church history from medieval Europe called the “Shield of the Trinity.” It is an equilateral triangle with “The Father” on one point of the triangle, “The Son” on another point, and “The Holy Spirit” on the last point. In the center of the triangle is “God.” This is a representation that God is all three persons, but each of the persons is not doing the task of the others in the same way. Remember what Jesus said, “The Father is greater than I,” meaning that Jesus as the Son is sent in the flesh to be as one of us. The Son humbles Himself to become human so that He may die to save us from death. The Father cannot die because of His nature, and He raises Jesus from death to life again. The Father also sends the Holy Spirit to live within us, another nature altogether different from the Father and Son. The symbol then shows us that even though the persons of God are different in function they are all God equally, thus God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
I know that this is a weighty exercise and believe me, my brain feels fried just giving this sermon, but it is crucial in our faith to have an understanding of the Trinity and to be able to reasonably explain how we believe, if asked, when someone is searching for God. You may not be able yet to give an answer to how and why you believe the way you do and that is ok, because as I said before, not all things are provable by scientific means, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Refer some people to a Pastor such as myself if you do not feel comfortable with such questions. Know this though, the God that we worship is the one and only God of all that is and ever shall be. God is one, not multiple, but also not bound to an existence such as us, and therefore able to exist as one God with three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three natures in one Holy and All-powerful God that loves each and every one of us as His children and heirs of His kingdom. What a comfort to know that in a universe where we often feel so insignificant, we are loved and treated like the special people we are by our Creator and Almighty Father. What an honor to be known and loved by the Blessed Trinity. Thanks be to God. Amen.