Three in One, One in Three: Now we have a Mystery!

Kenora                                                Trinity Sunday

Year B

30 May 2021

Isaiah 6:1-8

Psalm 29

Romans 8:12-17

John 3:1-17

Holy God, the earth is full of your love. May we your children, born of the Spirit, so bear witness to your Son Jesus Christ, that all the world may believe and have eternal life through him, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Trinity Sunday is undoubtedly one of my favourite festivals in the life and year of the church. Yet at the same time, to try to identify the persons of God is one of the most unfaithful things we could attempt to do.

So, rather than attempt to unravel it more than our creeds have done, in order to inspire our faith, I want to look at these precious words of faith and, today, invite us to reflect how and where God has and continues to bless each one of us.

The Nicene Creed tells us:

“We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.” (BAS pg 188)

When we proclaim these words, this statement of our individual, and at the same time, corporate statement of faith, the first thing we recognize is that we don’t walk this journey alone. Rather it’s not “I”, but “We” who proclaim these words of our collective, corporate belief.

“We” work together, believe together, and at the same time, we recognize all that surrounds us, including ourselves and each other have been made by God, and are part of what has been created by “the maker of heaven and earth.”

And when we look closely at these words, we are able to marvel at the intricacy of the world, of the beauty that surrounds us, the resources that are intended to provide for food, shelter, means of income, and for leisure.

We are able to marvel at the variety of animal life that exists all around us. We’re able to see those who fly, those on four legs, as well as the insects, the fishes, and all of humanity, as well.

All of this, the world, the creatures of the world, and humanity is all created by God, not to stand apart from creation but rather to be a living part of it, as stewards to be able to give this ongoing creation into the care of future generations.

But none of this is individual in its approach, nor in its effect.

The creed begins with the word “we”, and we are all a part of the creation in which we live and move and have our being.

We are all a part of the creation in which we find love, raise our families, and interact with our friends. We are a part of creation when we venture out into the world, even if it’s to go to the grocery store, because without the produce of creation there wouldn’t be a grocery store.

We are a part of what God has made, and that includes each one of us.

In its brevity, this the first article of the creed encompasses absolutely everything from the creation of the cosmos, to the planet, to the life on the planet, and that includes you and me, as well.

So, then we, as part of this creation of God turn to the second article of the creed.

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father.

Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” (BAS pg 188)

And now the story fleshes out. Now the writers of the Creed have some ‘meat and potatoes’ to present to those of us who also are included in the “we” of this article of the creed as they recount our collective story of salvation, of life lived in and through and because of the action of God the Son to bring us back into a positive and ‘right’ relationship with God.

In their words, in their imagery, we see the salvation story, here, laid out for each one of us, and the fact that it is only by God’s divine planning that any of this can come to fruition.

We see in these words how much we are loved by God that such steps were taken to renew connections between God and all of humanity. Steps taken between all groups of humanity to share our corporate worship experiences and to live into the life we find in and through God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And we see in the articles of the creed, that God is triune. There are three persons that make up God. And so, we turn to the third article of the creed which describes to us the life, the participation in all of God’s creation of the Holy Spirit, where once more, the word “We” leads the way in declaring our belief in God.

“We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified. He has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” (BAS pg. 189)

And again, the Nicene creed talks about the “We” in the world, it talks about those of us who have been touched by the Holy Spirit in our lives to declare our faith, our belief, our trust in God who is presented to us in three persons so that we can have a life in faith, and have it abundantly.

Looking at the readings for today we see where and how the three persons of God are at work, not just in the pages of the bible, but in and through each of our lives, as well.

Isaiah finds himself standing, alive, before the throne of God as God seeks a prophet to send into the world.

He says: “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”” (Isa 6:1b-4)

We see Isaiah, whose life is already changed by this experience, now commit his life to spreading the word of God to the whole world so that our faith, our trust, and our belief in God can continue to not only sustain us, but to grow, as well.

In Romans, we see Paul describe for the believers in Rome how much we owe to Christ and to the Holy Spirit for opening the way for us to believe in God, to have a relationship with God, and to be that avenue that such belief and faith are then able to include each one of us as the children of God.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom 8 14-16)

In this he describes the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit who continues to guide our hearts and our spirits into the paths, the occupations, the relationships that are able to bring us all closer to God.

But not just in the spiritual sense, we’re able to be closer to God when we work together to share our experiences of where and how God leads us in the world, gives us the words to say, when we need to say them, and to be where we need to be when we need to be there.

Even Jesus admits that an understanding of the trinity is difficult when he talks about how Nicodemus is having difficulty in wrapping his mind around the notion that it’s through Jesus’ resurrection that he will bring all peoples to himself.

That it’s through the work of the Holy Spirit that all of this is able to come to pass.

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 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.” (Jn 3:5-8)

And this brings us back to the mystery of the Trinity. To the image of one God in three persons, the one who creates, the one who redeems and the one who sustains are the images that we carry with us, that we proclaim, when we gather, when we proclaim the words of our faith, found in our creeds, when we boldly stand and say “We believe.”

At the same time, we allow the work of God to move us to take our part in the story that will be told to the generations, after us, because they too will have the chance to feel the love of God in their lives, and they too will be able to stand, with us, as we all declare “We believe…”

Amen.

About pastorrebeccagraham

A Lutheran minister serving an Anglican parish in Northern Ontario.
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