Three in One; One in Three

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“Perhaps you too wonder where God is in your world and your life. The teaching of the Trinity reminds us that God is literally everywhere… past, present, future… in creation… in our hearts… binding us one to another.”

The Holy Trinity
Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15
May 26, 2013
Peder Stenslie

When I tell you that today is “Holy Trinity” Sunday and that I intend to talk about the Holy Trinity during my sermon today, I can already see eyes beginning to glaze over.

It may seem to you that the Holy Trinity is an intellectual topic better suited to scholars than to members of a simple congregation like ours; but nothing could be further from the truth. The doctrine of the Trinity is incredibly important to simple Christians like you and me.

Very often in life we are faced with situations that are beyond our capacity to understand and we don’t know what to do. For some of us, maybe it’s a mechanical problem with our car, or questions regarding tax law, or for some of us maybe it’s a technology question, or maybe it’s a medical crisis. We are in a situation which far surpasses our knowledge and understanding and therefore we don’t know what to do. We don’t know how to deal with the situation.

If we’re lucky, we’ll have someone in our life… a family member or friend… or have access to a paid professional… someone who is skilled and knowledgeable in the subject and can help us find our way. In the end, what they will do to help us is not explain everything for us… but tell us what we need to know… in words we can understand.

That’s how we human beings often have to operate in this world. It’s often the best we can ask for in life. Please, just tell me what I need to know… in words I can understand.

That’s what the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is for us. It’s what we need to know about God… in words and images we can understand.

The truth and reality of God is well beyond human description and understanding. Therefore, it is wrong for us to think that the concept of the Holy Trinity is a description of the nature and being of God. It is not. It is not an explanation of how God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit all fit together like Lego pieces into one complete Divine Being superset.

The Trinity is simply three different pictures of the indescribable God… three different images of God based on the different ways God attends to our human needs. In other words, it is what we need to know about God… in words we can understand.

First, there is God the creator who made this magnificent home for us… this world full of wonders… this world full of everything needed to sustain and nurture life. God created us out of love. And because he loves us, he has woven this intricate web of life that provides for our needs, and does so with incredible beauty.

In God the redeemer (Jesus), we see that God’s love for us compelled him to become one of us… he became our companion in the flesh. His work here… in human flesh… was to break the oppressive power of sin and death that lays waste to our lives. That is something that we simply cannot do, so God does it for us. He rescues us forever from the relentless powers of sin and death.

In God the Holy Spirit, we remember our deep need to have God with us every day…our need to grow and change… our need to be made new… to start again when we reach a dead end in life. We remember that the incredible power that formed the heavens and the earth is with us now and always… at work in us… creating, blessing… building new life.

These are beautiful and powerful pictures of God that we should carry in our hearts always. They inspire us to appreciate, care for and share the wonders of creation with one another. They give us courage and comfort in the face of evil and death.

They encourage us to hope and to strive for change and new life when things go wrong in our lives. They remind us that we are never alone and we are never unloved… that God is with us always and will never let us go. These are pictures of God that can completely transform our lives; and we ought to let them.

The doctrine of the Holy Trinity by no means describes all that God is. But it does reveal what God has promised to be and do for us… and it is gloriously good!

It’s important that we know this about God… that we know the tale of the Holy Trinity. Because then we have help when we face situations that are beyond our capacity to understand or bear. This week we’ve all heard the news from Oklahoma and the terrible devastation the tornadoes have wroughtt here. In the face of such tragedy, people ask: “Where is God in Oklahoma right now?”

With the help of the doctrine of the Trinity… the three-fold image of God… we have what we need to know… in words and images we can understand. We won’t be misguided into thinking that God caused this destruction and death in order to punish. Such an idea is not only terribly wrong…it is terribly destructive. God, “the angry judge and executioner” is simply not a part of the Trinity. It is the God imagined by many people through history (including the Pharisees of Jesus’ time); but it is not the God revealed to us by Jesus, scripture or the Holy Spirit.

Through the three-fold image of the Trinity, we understand that God the creator… the author of life…is there in Oklahoma providing for people who have lost the basic necessities of life. He is there, as always, bringing forth the gifts of creation to heal the earth and to nurture and sustain his wounded people.

We know that God the redeemer (Jesus)… the victor over death… is there, claiming for himself those who have lost their lives. Death will not keep them, because they belong to God… and God is life.

And we know that God the spirit… the comforter… is there, soothing the grief of those who have lost people and possessions… upholding them with his promises and hope. God the spirit is there stirring the hearts of people like you and me to act in compassion, giving aid and support to those in need.

In this way, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity teaches us how God is always with us and serves us.

Perhaps you too wonder where God is in your world and your life. The teaching of the Trinity reminds us that God is literally everywhere… past, present, future… in creation… in our hearts… binding us one to another. God is present in our darkness… in our grief… in our joy… in our death. God is everywhere and his presence with is always to give life… to transform what is marred by sin and death and bring forth from it new life and eternal joy.

Praise be the indescribable God who has made it known for us how he loves us and attends to us always and everywhere. Praise be the Holy Trinity… God Creator, Redeemer and Holy Spirit …three beautiful faces of the invisible God claiming and serving all that he has made.

Amen.