Carolyn’s Sermon for Trinity Sunday – 6/3/12

Sermon Holy Trinity

Grace, mercy, and peace from our God who is Three in One: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

ELW symbol for the Trinity

Today is Holy Trinity, the Sunday that the church has dedicated to remember not an event, or a Bible story, but a doctrine, that is teaching of the church.  The Trinity is the number one teaching of the Christian Faith.  The church believes it is so important, that we set aside a day to remember it every year.

The doctrine of the Trinity is the idea that we believe that our One God is expressed in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have three ways of knowing and experiencing God, but we believe and teach that there is only one God.

The Trinity has been explained in a number of ways.  Some people like to talk of water, ice, and steam.  They are three expressions of the same substance.  Or you could talk about an apple.  The peel is apple. The fruit is apple. The core is apple.  But there is only one apple.

These are just metaphors, pictures of something too wonderful to understand or explain.

Our God is three in one.  The doctrine of the Trinity is one of those ideas that is best expressed in poetry and art and music.  Any scientific explanation is really impossible.

It is a complicated doctrine and theologians have debated its finer points for centuries, but I won’t bore you with that.  It may be academically interesting, but it is more important to talk about how it matters in our lives.

Many people will tell you that all religions are basically the same because they all teach the same values of kindness and the golden rule.  Or they will tell you that they are spiritual, but not religious.  Or they will tell you that they worship God in nature or on the golf course.

It is true that all religions teach a moral life.  They all teach that we should be good law abiding people.

But living a moral life isn’t all that any religion is about.  The fact that they all teach that we should live a good life –  means we must not very good at doing it on our own.

Why is that?  Why aren’t we good at being good all the time? It depends on how you define the problem.  Some believe that the problem is ignorance.  They believe that if we just knew how to behave, we would do it.  Their solution is education or enlightenment.

They are right up to a point. We do need to know what the rules are.  We can’t be expected to behave appropriately or make good decisions if we haven’t learned the rules.

Christians, Jews, and Muslims believe the problem is human sin.  They teach that human sin is the source of all the problems in the world.  Our relationship with God is broken and we are not following God’s will for our lives.

But then these three religions differ in their understanding about the solution to the problem of sin.

Jews teach that the answer is living out the covenant given to Moses through the law.  Muslims believe that strictly following the teachings of the prophet Mohammed is the answer.  Both teach that we humans just need to try harder and be more careful to follow the rules.

Christians understand the problem differently. We teach that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. No matter how hard we try, we cannot be as good as we know we should be.

We all know this in our hearts.  We know our own sin. Luther said sin was being curved in on ourselves.  Sin is selfishness, caring more about ourself than others.

We Christians teach that the only way sin is conquered is through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

For us, it is all about the cross of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father who sent the Son.  As Jesus told Nicodemus, God so loved the world.  This love and grace is not something we can earn.  It comes from the relationship between Father and Son. It is God’s gift to us.

No matter how hard we try,  we will never be good enough to earn God’s love and favor.

But God, our Father, loves us and sent the Son to save us.  Because God loves the whole world. The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of our risen Lord Jesus, gives us the faith to live out the will of God in our lives.  So the answer to the problem of sin, the problems of the world, is the Trinity.

Our Trinitarian God is a God of relationships: the relationships of the Father, Son, and Spirit.   Our hymn of the day expresses it well, painting for us a musical picture of the Trinity in a beautiful dance.

Think about a dance for a minute.  You have a song with words.  You have a musical tune. And you have the steps and movement involved in the dance itself.

In the Trinitarian dance, God our Father and creator works with the Spirit and Son to bring everything into existence.  The Father creates by speaking.  The Son is the Word of God.  The Spirit blows life into everything.  They move together in love and hope.

The Good news is that God, the Trinity, works in relationships and wants to be in relationship with us as beloved children and heirs to eternal life.

God calls us to be in relationships with each other in families. God the Trinity sets the example for us with the Father, Son, and Spirit.

The closest relationships that we have are our families.  These are the most important people in our lives.   We all want peace and harmony in our homes.  Yet, we know we all struggle with these relationships.

We are all sinners and live in families of people captive to sin. It seems that sometimes the closer we are to people, the harder it is to get along with them.  Maybe it is because we don’t choose our family members.

Or maybe it is because we are more comfortable being ourselves and we relax our standards of behavior at home.  For whatever reason, we turn in on ourselves more, when we are with family.

Yet God, the Trinity, shows us what love of family is.  The Father, Son, and Spirit live love and grace.  Their relationship isn’t exclusive, either.

The love of the Trinity includes the entire human community.  When the Father sent the Son as a baby in Bethlehem to live among us, God showed us that we are part of the relationship with the Trinity.

When we turned in on ourselves and killed the Son, we forgot who our God was.  God reminded us though.  God said you have forgotten that I am the Three in One who called everything into being.  It is my Spirit who breathed life into the world.  And God rolled the stone away.

Then God sent the Spirit to be with us always.  And through the dance of the Trinity, we are given eternal life.

Thanks be to God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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