Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Creator, Jesus Christ our Savior, and the Holy Spirit, our advocate and guide. Amen.
This weekend the church celebrates the first Sunday after Pentecost by dedicating a day to a doctrine rather than an event. The doctrine of the Trinity is the church’s explanation of how we mere mortals experience and understand God.
As the church, we talk about how we experience God in three ways: the God who created us and all that exists; Jesus Christ – the God who became one of us and died to save us; and the Holy Spirit – the God who is with us and guides us still. Yet we only believe in One God. We confess our faith in the Trinity, God the “three-in-one” every week as we recite the creed.
The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to understand and explain. But, why would we worship a God we could explain? If we could truly understand and explain our God, we would be worshipping a god we created, not someone worthy of worship, not the Creator of all that exists.
Have you ever wondered at the sheer size of creation? A few months ago there was a picture on the internet taken by the Mars rover, the little vehicle that landed on Mars to drive around, take pictures, and teach us more about that planet. I brought the picture to show as a part of the devotion at a council meeting.
It was a picture taken at night. You could see barren ground and a dark sky. There were three tiny dots that looked like stars in the sky. The smallest one was blueish in color. There was an arrow pointing to it that said, “You are here.” That is what our earth looks like from one of the nearest planets.
A few years ago I helped plan a conference for pastors on Creation and Science. An astronomy professor from Baylor gave me a group of pictures of stars and galaxies to use for the publicity. He told me to pick which ones to use. I had to tell him that they were all pretty, but I didn’t know one from another. The other pastors in the group admitted they didn’t know anything about the stars either.
That professor patiently explained the scientific theories about what probably happened in the first few seconds of creation. He showed us beautiful pictures from telescopes at different distances. Things that looked like single stars in one picture turned out to be whole galaxies when he zoomed in on them. We were absolutely amazed at the vastness of it all.
The psalmist says, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and stars that you have set in their courses, what are mere mortals that you should be mindful of them, human beings that you should care for them?”
Did your parents ever refuse to explain something to you? Tell you that you can’t understand now, but you will understand when you are older? I remember being very annoyed at being told I was too young to understand something. We don’t like to be told that we can’t understand or do things yet.
I bet the disciples were frustrated, too. It is very hard when someone tells you they have more to tell you, but you will just have to wait. It makes us curious and we want to know now. We don’t understand why we can’t understand yet.
We all know that it is true that children cannot understand some things until they are grown. Just as children can only lift things that are light in weight, they can only understand ideas at their own developmental level. When they get older, they can lift things that are heavier and they can understand things that are more complicated. They have to grow in strength and perspective.
It also is true that there are some things that we will never understand no matter how old we get. I am probably never going to understand what that astronomy professor was talking about at a level much higher than – the universe is really, really, big. But I know that the God who made it loves me and you.
There are some things that are too heavy for us to bear right now. Sometimes we need to grow in strength and perspective before we can hear and bear the truth. There are some things we may never understand. I know I have a list of questions for God when I get to heaven. I bet you do, too.
So, what are we to do in the meantime? Jesus says there are some things that are true that we can’t bear to hear and know now. We need a teacher and guide. That is why Jesus also says that the Spirit of Truth will come and lead us and guide us. We are not left alone to figure our lives out.
Notice, Jesus does not say just any spirit will guide us, but the Spirit of Truth. The word “truth” and the word “troth” as in betrothed and “I pledge thee my troth” have the same origin. In wedding language, the truth and the relationship come together.
When a couple become engaged or “betrothed” they are promising both love and faithfulness over a lifetime. The promises in marriage are grounded in both truth and relationship with God, because all love and truth come from God.
Jesus has already told us he is the way, the truth, and the life. This Spirit of Truth is the Spirit of Jesus. And Jesus has also told us that he and the Father are One. Whoever has seen Jesus has seen the Father.
The Trinity is all about the relationship among Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Our hymn of the day talks about that relationship as a dance. Isn’t it nice to think of Creation as a celebration? A big bang of a celebration! God, the Trinity held a party, a dance party. God made all of us, and all that exists, so that we could join in that celebration.
We were created that we could all be part of the relationship. So that we could all be in relationship with Trinity and each other. We, the church, are the Bride of Christ. We are the “betrothed” of Christ. We have been given the Spirit of Truth. Christ promises to be faithful to us and love us forever. Amen.