The Holy Trinity (6/7/2009)
The Mystery of the Trinity
Lessons: Isaiah 6:1-8 Psalm 29 Romans 8:12-17 John 3:1-17
Prayer of the Day Almighty Creator and ever-living God: we worship your glory, eternal Three-in-One, and we praise your power, majestic One-in-Three. Keep us steadfast in this faith, defend us in all adversity, and bring us at last into your presence, where you live in endless joy and love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
3:1 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." 3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." 9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 16 "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.
St. John 3:1-17 New Revised Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
This coming Sunday is "The Festival of the Holy Trinity" in the Christian calendar. It is a day when we lift up the ancient belief that our God is one, and that our God is three. The Word Trinity is found nowhere in our Bible. It is a word that the church created years after the Bible was written. In a time when believers were arguing whether God was "one being" or "three beings," Trinity - a word that combines "tri" for three and "unity" for one - professes the belief that God is not one or the other. God is both. (So, in one of my favorite elusive answers, when asked, "Is God three or is God one?" the correct answer is: "No.")
So what does this mean? There have been many clever attempts to answer this question. God is like water (a gas, a liquid, or a solid - depending on the temperature). God is like me (a dad, a husband, a pastor - depending on who is describing me). God is like an apple (with skin, fruit, and core). But ultimately, each of these attempts falls short of capturing the essence of God's nature. The Trinity is not a logical proposition to be understood. In truth, it is a mystery to be embraced.
Now by mystery we do not mean something that is lurking behind the reality of our experiences - a "god however you choose to imagine it." But instead, a God who meets us concretely and specifically in the bread, the wine, the water, the proclamation of the word, the power of the gathered community, the continued presence of the risen Christ, the beauty of a Colorado sunset, the comfort of the faith in a difficult time... The mystery of the Trinity is that as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, God has chosen to love us with a deep and powerful love. There aren't words adequate to describe what that means. But there are testimonies of how that reality has claimed the lives of believers throughout the years, and has shaped their existence.
This Sunday we celebrate a God who is shrouded in mystery; yet a God who has chosen to reveal a great love for us. God has loved us by creating us and all that exists. God has loved us by offering the greatest gift there is - life itself - that our sins might be forgiven and our relationship with God might be restored. God has loved us by comforting us, strengthening us, empowering us, and supporting us in every time of need. Through this love, we are called into a holy relationship with God. As we contemplate the Holy Trinity, may the Spirit help us to embrace the mystery, and celebrate the reality of a God who loves us this deeply.
God's richest blessings to you, as you celebrate God's presence in your life this Holy Trinity Sunday. May our attention to God's presence in our lives help us to appreciate what God has done for us, and how God might speak through us to touch the lives of others.
Exploring This Week's Gospel:
- What are three Biblical images of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
- How did God move in these three ways to build the lives of those in the early church?
- What did Jesus have to say to Nicodemus in today's Gospel lesson about the movement of the Holy Spirit?
Connecting with This Week's Gospel:
- How have I experienced God as my Creator?
- How have I experienced God as my Savior?
- How have I experienced God as my Sustainer?