Sermon for Trinity Sunday – Year A RCL
June 11, 2017
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Today is Trinity Sunday. A day where there is a great temptation on the part of preachers everywhere to do one of two – perhaps three things. The first is to get someone else to preach! After all that is why we have lay preachers right? Perhaps if I was smart I would have asked someone else to preach today. The second is to ignore the Trinity in the sermon entirely and the third might be to actually try to explain the doctrine of the trinity and why it matters in today’s society. Which will almost inevitably lead down the road to heresy. My favorite heresy in explaining the trinity is one called modalism. It is where we look around us and find that matter operates in a Trinitarian nature and try to use that to explain God. You know you are on thin ice when you start out saying "the trinity is like..."
“Dorothy Sayers famously observed that if people depended upon the Church to answer the question, "What is the Trinity?" the vast majority of people would respond:
"'The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the whole thing incomprehensible.' Something put in by the theologians to make it more difficult - nothing to do with daily life or ethics."
Drawing on the allowed resources and your own understanding, write an essay of approximately 1,500 words explaining how the doctrine of the Trinity is relevant to "daily life or ethics."
As you might guess a collective gasp could be heard from everyone scattered around the seminary who were taking the exam. And perhaps there where a few expletives uttered as well. After all we were promised that we would never have to explain the trinity on the GOEs!
I will save you the torture of reading you my paper. I will just say that it was the only question that I almost did not get completed in time and it was the only question that I did not do so well on. So perhaps that makes me completely unqualified to preach today and I really should have asked someone else.
In the years since that fateful exam I have come to the conclusion that we really miss the mark when we try to explain God. We as humans are always trying to come up with explanation for things. We are not comfortable with the mystery and so we need something to hang onto. I think that is why it is hard for some folk to grasp the nature of God the Holy Spirit. She is too nebulous for us. A wind and fire. A driving force that flows through us. Much easier to understand Jesus – the divine taking on human form and walking among us. It is so much easier to comprehend God the Father – the creator. We can visualize something called a father. And then when we try to explain how they can all be one God. Well that is where we loose people – or head straight into heresy. The doctrine of the trinity is one that was created to try and help the church explain how we experience God and how we relate to God. It is only relevant to todays society when it drives us out to do mission. It is only relevant when we let the trinity work through us to usher in God’s dream.
Which is what we are being commanded to do in our lessons today. In the story of creation in Genesis we have God creating all of creation. As the spirit moves upon the waters of creation all things come into being. And in relationship with each other God declares that all of creation is Good. Humanity being created in the image of God is then asked to take care of that good creation. To be stewards of the creation in relationship with that creation and in relationship with God.
In the Gospel from Matthew we hear the Great Commission. This is the end of the Gospel and the resurrected Jesus is giving his disciples – both then and now a commandment and a promise. The commandment is that we are to actively go out and make disciples of the nations. Making disciples is an active verb. It is not a passive thing. We are commanded to go out and make.
And I think it is important here to note that we are not to go out and conquer nations. That is not the command. Jesus says we are to spread and follow his commandments as we go forth. And to recruit other people to follow his commandments. There are no commandments of Jesus about forcibly making people do things. If we look at how Jesus recruited his followers it was not with the threat of eternal damnation if they did not follow. It was with the grace of healing – with words like “your faith as made you whole” It was with the simple words – Come. Follow me. Jesus’ desire was to recruit people to get all of creation back into relationship with creation and with God. And Jesus demonstrated that to make disciples happens not through force or coercion but through reconciliation and through love.
The promise in the Great Commission is that Jesus – that God – will be with us always. Not that we have to invoke God to appear when we find it convenient but that God is always with us. And with God in us and working through us we are asked to reconcile, heal and love. We are called to go out of our selves and out of our churches into our neighborhood and into our workplaces and with God in us change society. Bring creation back into balance. We are called to be good stewards of Gods creation and see it all as Good.
What kind of difference would it make in our lives if we recognized the presence of God working through us in everything we did? What if we started every action with “in the name of God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit” or if you prefer “God – creator, reconciler, redeemer” before we acted? If we did that it would be hard to do some of the hurtful things that happen around us.
Oh I know humanity has started wars and mistreated all of creation in the name of God. But I am talking about making the realization that God is part of all of us and in all of us. Those who invoke God to hurt and destroy do it by ignoring the God in all of creation. It really is not possible to follow Christ and say in the name of God I hate God! You can’t call someone an abomination if you recognize that they too have God with them and within them. Because then you are really calling God an abomination. Think about it. If we are following the great commandment to love God and Love neighbor and Love ourselves we can’t honestly invoke God to hate.
Because our God from the beginning of creation saw that it was Good. Saw that creation is loved. God created a creation in relationship and in balance and through time we – as the God given stewards of creation have destroyed relationships and destroyed the balance. And God’s dream and commandment is for us – with God in us – is to recreate that balance. To return to God’s economy where all of creation is nurtured and all of creation is good.
We are called and commissioned to show the world that God’s dream is one of peace, reconciliation and love. It is a dream where we can truly look around us and at our neighbor – and like God did at the beginning of creation say it is Good. This creation of God’s is very good. And we are called as stewards to spread that goodness by going out into our neighborhoods and into our workplaces and help to turn society back right side up!