Trinity Sunday Year A
GENESIS 1:1-2:3; PSALM 150; II CORINTHIANS 13:(5-10)11-14; MATTHEW 28:16-20
THE REV. PORTIA SWEET
I really hope none of you came this morning believing that you would leave with a clear understanding of “What is the Trinity?” If that is your expectation, here’s a spoiler alert: You are about to be disappointed.
You see, from about the third Century CE when Christian leaders began really thinking about formalizing Christian theology, much has been written, discussed, argued, and disagreed upon regarding the Trinity. Schisms great and small have occurred in Christendom over what the Trinity may mean and what it could/should be and could/should not be. People far more learned that I have written tomes and tried and failed to explain this doctrine once and for all.
Yet each Sunday we affirm our faith, proclaiming a Trinitarian belief in who our God is: God, Creator/Father; God the Redeemer/Son; God/Revealer Spirit; One God, Three Persons. We use terms like 3 in One and One in 3; distinct but not divided; different but not separated. Do you feel that headache coming on yet?
I am a simple soul. Yes, you know that I have had some theological education, but I remain a simple soul. The Trinity is a Christian Mystery requiring faith to accept. It is about divine love and relationship in love which is beyond our ability to replicate and therefore beyond our ability to precisely define in any human language.
As Paul said to the Corinthians, we see through a glass dimly. We use our familiar words to describe God in all the divine forms in order to relate to God – to the Holy. How can there be a relationship without some concept of the being to whom we desire to relate?
And so, since we are human and we are not God, we must rely on Scripture, our experiences and what others share of their experience to develop a personal relationship with the Mystery.
The overarching characteristic of this entity – the Trinity – is LOVE – the love of all the parts among itself and the love of each and all of those parts, unified, for what it has created – including you and me.
First the Father who created us just as our earthly fathers whom we remember and honor today created us. So it is perhaps not too difficult to relate as sons and daughters, even if our relationships with our earthly parents are less than ideal. Then, just as in the Genesis story, we are not always obedient; we give in to the Tempter who may be saying, “Just a little lie won’t hurt; just a bite of the apple; just taking something you surely deserve even if it is not rightly yours is OK, chum; and so God the Son became like us and was tempted – overcame the temptations and redeemed us from the death of sin by his death and resurrection. Although the Tempter, reptilian or otherwise, continues to hover and tries to seduce us, we have the powerful protection of the cross of Christ the Son – our Redeemer.
If you were baptized as an older child or adult, do you remember what you felt when the water flowed over your head, and can you still feel the spot where you were anointed? Those who have been confirmed, can you still feel the pressure of the bishop’s hands on your head? I know I can feel our bishop’s hands on my own as he invoked the Holy Spirit to make me a deacon in God’s church. These are some of the ways we relate to the Trinity through the Holy Spirit – our conscience, our guide. Christ’s Presence through the mystery of Communion with all the Saints each Sunday is another means of experiencing the Mystery of the Trinity.
And now in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives the eleven their marching orders. “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 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.
Therefore, it seems to me, a simple soul, that if you and I say we believe in this Triune God, the Holy Trinity, we are saying we believe in the power and goodness of Divine Love. And would not that logically lead us to long to know and experience that Love. If we then experience even moments of that Love, surely we would be eager to share it, because it would be too grand, too exciting, too powerful to contain within our own souls and bodies. Jesus knew this to be the case and knew that the Father would, through the Spirit, cause us to want to share this joy that comes from knowing the Divine.
The eleven may have first thought, as perhaps many of you do, “Well how shall we do that? There is so much opposition and danger in our world; so many enemies, so many unknowns.” Today you may be thinking, How can I go into all the world to baptize people? Yet, Jesus added, “And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age.” It is by the Holy Spirit that we can have a living relationship with Christ. His spirit living in us fuels our creative force.
In the acts of loving another – spouse, partner, child, neighbor, stranger – we are in relationship with Divine Love. In acts of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, giving shelter to the homeless and hope to the helpless, and comfort to the sick and sorrowful, we are in relationship with Divine Love. In Prayer and Worship we are in relationship with Divine Love, and in eating the bread and drinking the wine we become a part of it and it becomes a part of us. When our actions are faithful reflections of what we say we believe, we, using our God-given gifts, can bear witness to that Love and bring those who thirst to the well. We can show others the way to baptism, to salvation.
Just reflect on the power and potential of love and relationship. Jesus, beloved Son sent by the father to redeem the creation the Father also loved, sends his loving, powerful spirit to remain with us forever when he is no longer with us in the flesh.
And there it is, my friends. I can use only human language and example. I am simple, and the doctrine is not. Therefore, I leave you with this: We are created in love, we are redeemed by love and we are commanded to share that love with our fellow creatures to the ends of the earth. Holy Holy Holy. Amen