Father, Son and Holy Spirit - Trinity Sunday
The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. Amen
These are the final words from St. Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians
They are fitting words which are part of the selected readings for this day - Trinity Sunday
Trinity Sunday in which the church honours the three persons of God
Trinity Sunday – is the Sunday after Pentecost – Pentecost the birthday of the church
Where the disciples gathered were filled with the Holy Spirit and began proclaiming in different tongues the Good News – The Birthday of the Church
Many preachers have often said that they have reservations and sense of intimidation with preaching on Pentecost, to try to live up to the standard of Peter’s sermon that added 3000 converts in a single day
Well ‘Trinity Sunday’ presents me with its own challenges for preaching
For nearly everybody the notion of the “Trinity” is something that difficult to pin down
And people, in an effort to understand the Trinity, look to explain it using metaphors
The Trinity is like the leaf of clover
Three rounded parts of the leaf make up the whole leaf – by themselves they are not one – but together, as three, they are one
Or there is the shell, the yoke and the white of an egg – again together they make an egg – separate they do not
Another popular attempt is the analogy to water, trying to deal with some flaws of the egg and clover metaphors
Because any of the three phases of water can exist independently of the others and do not need the other two to affirm its substance as water
Water exists in three phases: solid, liquid, and gaseous
It's still all H2O. Same substance, different forms
Still others want to explain a different layer of understanding of the Trinity – to think of the Trinity in the sense of an ocean and a ladle.
If the ladle is dipped into the ocean the ladle contains the ocean and when the water is poured back into the ocean the ocean is unchanged.
This is how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and yet at times separate
I am afraid to say that for one reason or another, that all of these attempts fail to capture who God is as expressed in the Trinity
Think of it this way
If you wanted to study a moth – one way would be to catch one – using to some gases like chloroform kill it – and then pin it to some board, with a collection of other similar moths
By comparison to the other moths you could describe its physical attributes in great detail – examination could be to the minutest aspect
You could even dissect it and study its inner makeup and with a powerful enough microscope, explore and therefore describe cell by cell the moth
But in fact you wouldn’t be describing a moth at all – but a corpse
A dead creature – that does nothing a living moth does
It doesn’t fly – it doesn’t feed on cloths, carefully put in storage – it doesn’t do any of things a moth does – it is a corpse
And our descriptions of the Trinity are even more limited because generally they merely trying to describe one small aspect of God – how can God be both three and also one
The term ‘Trinity’ can not be found in The Bible, but The Bible does teaches us that there is one God, and that His nature is described as Trinity…
From the earliest civilizations there has been a desire to explain and understand the world and God… so there is a desire to understand this relationship presented to us in the identity of God
The Word declares that God is the eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, and immutable triune God;
And it declares the unity of the Godhead where three personalities, equal in every divine perfection and attribute, distinct, harmonious, in the great work of redemption.
This does not mean that there are three "people" called God, but rather a way of saying God eternally exists in three personally distinct ways.
Scriptures declares that there is only one God, Who is eternally (past, present, and future) manifested/revealed as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
For some of you, puzzling over the mystery of the Trinity is not something that interests you at all
But it has been an ageless question and today on the calendar it is Trinity Sunday – so for those that are interested, I hope bears fruit for you.
I believe it does speak to many of you, In fact just a few weeks ago Jackson and I were driving in the car somewhere and this ‘alone time with Dad’, meant an opportunity to ask about God and specifically about the Trinity
To all the explanations – to all the attempts I would like to suggest that maybe the Trinity is puzzling teaching is because we keep trying to make it more complicated than it needs to be.
The doctrine of the Trinity simply means that God keeps reaching out to us to lead us into the kind of relationship with God that we need.
God makes God’s self known to us as the Father, one who gives being and lives in constant relationship with us.
God also makes God’s self known to us through the Son, Jesus, one like ourselves, whom God sent to show us that God is one who loves us.
Finally God comes to be with us in a real way every day as the Holy Spirit.
God does that so that we can know that the one who created and the one who loves is also one who is with us every moment of every day
living in a relationship with us that can shape our lives if we will let it.
The heart of what this day, this Sunday, this reality of God as Trinity is really and truly this...God loves us...God loves us
God loves us into creation
God loves us by all of creation – look around, consider the natural world
Consider how much God loves us by what God has provided
I challenge you to think about the creation account that Glenna read so beautifully this morning
Consider our beautiful surroundings here at Farringdon church – our beacon on a hill
The trees… the grass… the beautiful, colourful plants and flowers… The birds in the air… the Grand River that runs through Brantford
Listen to the words of our Psalm today
3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3,7-9)
David Wilkerson is a clergyman in the English Methodist Church. He is also an accomplished scientist who has won recognition for his work in the field of astronomy.
He was asked to address an assembly of church leaders from around the world. He responded with a multimedia presentation using a videotape prepared for the purpose.
The tape started with a picture of a young family enjoying a picnic in a park.
Then it was as if the camera withdrew into space showing increasingly broad perspectives on the surroundings of the family in the park.
The viewers were shown the rest of the city, and the countryside, and the various eco-systems that were surrounding the family.
The camera continued to withdraw until it showed the earth spinning in its delicate balance of motion and gravity with all of the other planets.
It continued to withdraw until it showed the other galaxies that surround our solar system and finally the pictures most recently sent back by the Hubble telescope of the most distant galaxies just this side of the unknown infinity beyond.
Then the camera seemed to return by stages to the family in the park. But it didn’t stop.
Its journey was not over. It seemed to move into the bodies of the family members, exploring the intricate systems that worked to keep them alive,
And finally exploring the cell structure of their bodies, the DNA that transmitted genetic characteristics, and finally the atomic structure of the matter of which everything was made.
By the time the camera returned the viewers to the family in the park,
Everyone was well aware that they had been on a tour of something miraculous and were caught up in awe of the creation and of the witness that the creation makes.
God Loves all creation in being – God loves us - each and everyone of us
Why us – why mortals – why do we have dominion – why are we in the likeness of God?
One outlook, is that properly understood the first chapter of the Bible, of Genesis, can serve as a splendid introduction to an important contextual beginning to both the book and the entire Bible.
It declares that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is no mere localized or tribal deity,
But the sovereign Lord of the whole earth.
The apparently petty and insignificant family stories that occupy the bulk of the book are - in fact of cosmic consequence,
For God has chosen these people so that through them all the nations of the earth should be blessed
The creation of the heavens and the earth and all things within it, are the beginnings of God relationship with us
Consider then: God the Son - Jesus the Christ – this is God greatest love… for all humanity
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.(John 3:16-17)
God provided the glorious exchange
All that is ugly… all that is dirty… all that separates us from God – our sin… my sin…
Jesus came – Jesus taught – Jesus was the sacrificial lamb
He fulfilled the law for us – when we can not
In the words of the great Hymn:
And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
The Trinity, most importantly, is about the character and nature of God
And it’s about “who is God” and what God does
Despite our best efforts to describe - we can not domestic God and God’s creation for simple explanations
We can not bring God down to our size – compartmentalize God, the way that we do with the rest of our scientific knowledge
God is not static, and God is not disconnected.
Rather God's very essence and being is dynamic and relational. And that means that God is relating to us and to the relationships of love that we experience in our own lives.
When we look to all of the Bible - I believe that we are meant to see that we are partners with God.
As you consider the meta-narrative, the big picture… it is a story of God’s relationship with humanity
A wise professor of mine once said that: God doesn’t do anything himself directly that He can’t first do through mankind.
We are God’s Plan A - The story of the bible is a testament to that
Through-out, God is working through people. God does not often simply do things himself, but works through humanity as an intermediater.
It is God the Holy Spirit – that comes alongside us – that whispers in our ears – that through others shows us His loving care for us
In our Gospel reading today we have Matthew’s account of the Great commission
Jesus declares: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”(Matthew 28:18-20)
Although this is the most used scripture for evangelism – we will leave that for another day – I want you to consider the final words
Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age
Genesis tells us that God gives us dominion and the dominion we exercise must be understood in the way of Jesus of Nazareth – the Christ
We have a mission – it is with the power of the Holy Spirit and so is a co-mission…
And… Jesus IS WITH US always – to the end of the age
The belief and description of God as Trinity mean something deep and profound in our own lives,
And it means something deep and profound in the life and mission of the Church.
We see in God our Creator… our Redeemer… and our Sanctifier, the primary call and purpose of the Church to announce LOVE and to proclaim the welcome to that love...to everyone, everywhere, and always.
This belief calls us to proclaim the ‘love of God’ who creates… who redeems… and who inspires and directs human beings everywhere.
This belief reminds the Church that loving relationship is both at the heart of God and at the heart of the identity and call of the Body of Christ.
We understand God the Holy Trinity by the relationship God has with us and in the WORK that God does ‘for us’ and ‘with us’
A definition of the Trinity is not something we can ever fully define – this side of heaven… it is a holy mystery
What we can do, is understand God in the three persons of Godhead as God has chosen for us to understand
In relationship to us and in God’s action in the world
You see Trinity Sunday is not just one day each year but our understanding and relationship with God everyday
Let us pray…. O loving Creator, make in us something new. O loving Redeemer, save us from anything that might hold us back. O loving Spirit, blow afresh in our soul. O Trinity of Love, O God of Compassion, O Unity of New Life, be in us and be with us. Let us know how fully, how deeply, how truly, how completely we are loved by you and grant that we may show forth that love to others, for the mercy of your Holy Name. And May The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. - Amen
 David Wilkerson presentation at the Eighteenth World Methodist Conference, Brighton, England, 2001.