Rev. Bill's Sermons

Sunday, May 22, 2005

 

Trinity Sunday 2005: Matthew 28:16-20

GENESIS 1:1-2:4(A) II CORINTHIANS 13:11-13 MATTHEW 28:16-20 “IT’S TRIPERSPECTIVAL!” TRINITY SUNDAY MAY 22, 2005
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW PRAISE HIM ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW PRAISE HIM ABOVE THE HEAVENLY HOST PRAISE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST.
The beautiful words of The Doxology that we sing every Sunday are not only beautiful -- they are filled with praise -- and are filled with power. They are filled with the power of God as we sing our praises to God -- one God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Shirley Guthrie was one of my Theology professors at Columbia Theological Seminary. While I was taking both my Masters and Doctorate classes I always wanted to take classes from Dr. Guthrie – or Shirley as almost everyone knew him. He died last year – but during his tenure at Columbia taught many students and wrote many books that were helpful to ministers and lay folk alike. His book Christian Doctrine has become a considered a classic because of his ability to communicate the doctrinal truths of Reformed Christianity is a way that lay people can understand. A student of the great theologian Karl Barth, Shirley was able to take Barth’s teachings and bring them to a level that the average church member could understand them. In Christian Doctrine, he begins the chapter on the Doctrine of the Trinity with a make - believe conversation that has probably taken place in many Sunday School classes or study groups -- or if the specific conversation has not taken place then probably one like it has - - or at least the question posed by this conversation has probably been considered – if not voiced -- by almost all serious Christians at one time or another. The conversation Guthrie gives goes something like this: A student asks: “Do we have to believe in all this business of three - in - one and one - in - three to be Christians?” “Yes” - the teacher replies. “The church has always held that the doctrine of the Trinity is essential.” “Well” - - the student asks - - “what does it mean? How can you put three persons together and get one - or divide one person into three and still have one?” The teacher then blunders through some fuzzy explanation then concludes hopelessly: “It’s a mystery no one can understand. You just have to accept it in faith.” Some will respond – or at least think: “Well - if you’re supposed to believe it - I guess I do - whatever it is.” But others may respond – or at least think to themselves: “If no one knows what it means, and no one can explain it, it must not be all that important.” Today is Trinity Sunday - the day when the Church celebrates the Triune nature of God – that fact that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We actually celebrate this every Sunday as we sing The Doxology -- but today is a time to actually think about what it is we profess as we sing these words -- what it really means that we worship one God -- who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. What does the doctrine of the Trinity mean? The doctrine of the Trinity is vital - - not because it is something to merely know and accept - - even if we do not understand - - but the doctrine of the Trinity is vital for us because of what it tells us about God. When we look at the doctrine of the Trinity, we begin to learn some things about God. What can we know about God? The doctrine of the Trinity helps us understand - - and not only understand - - but experience - - God as the
Creating Strengthening Guiding God that God is.
It helps us experience God’s work in our lives. The Doctrine of the Trinity helps us know more and understand more about God – because we can not really understand God until we understand all 3 dimensions of God:
Creating Strengthening Guiding
These 3 dimensions of God are vital in our understanding of who God is and what God does in our lives and the world. Many of you know that my nephew, Rob, works for Campus Crusade for Christ in Orlando, Florida. He has a Blog (that’s short for Web Log – a place on the Internet where he posts about different things – and people can log on to his Blog and read the information he’s sharing. I also have a Blog.) Anyway – Rob posted on his blog the other day about a new word he had learned from one of his co workers. The word is: Triperspectival (If you want to know how to spell it look in your bulletins – it’s in my sermon title.) I’ll define the word the way Rob did – because it is so new there are no dictionary definitions. The way Rob defined it – triperspectival means talking about something from 3 different but related perspectives. Or triperspectival means that you can't fully understand one without an idea of the other two. The more I thought about this new word Rob had learned the more I thought “that’s what the Doctrine of the Trinity is all about!” It’s triperspectival! It means talking about God from the 3 different but related perspectives of God the creator – God the strengthener – and God the guide. It also means that we can not fully understand God from only one of these perspectives – but have to consider all 3 to really understand God. The Doctrine of the Trinity is, therefore, triperspectival We have to understand – and be able to see God at work in our lives and in our world – on all 3 levels of creator, strengthener, and guide before we can really understand God. Think about it -- what can we know about God? Well – imagine with me for a moment that you are God. What would you want your creation to know about you? What things would you think it important for your people to know about you? Different ones of you may give different answers here, but for me the answer seems to always fall in three areas. I would want them to know: That I am their creator and provider That I loved them That I was with them What can we know about God? Our passages for today tell us three basic things about God:
God is always creating God is always redeeming and loving God is always strengthening and guiding
Through the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit - the Triune God - God is always at work in our lives - always creating and re-creating us - always loving us - always working for peace among us - and always strengthening and guiding us. To fully understand God we have to have an understanding of this triune nature of God. We can not fully understand God if we only see God as a creator. We can not fully understand God if we only see God as a loving God. We can not fully understand God is we only see God as a strength and guide for our lives. We have to see God as the creating, loving, and strengthening God that God is to fully understand God. We have to see all three natures of God to fully understand God. We have to understand the Doctrine of the Trinity to fully understand God. The nature of God is triperspectival – we have to understand all 3 to truly understand each one. Through the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit - the Triune God - God is always at work in our lives - always creating and re-creating us - always loving us - always working for peace among us - and always strengthening and guiding us. Friends - this is not just dry doctrine - this is not just dry facts - but this is exciting. This is how God the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit works in our lives. God is always creating - giving us new opportunities to live as God’s people - renewing us so we can indeed be God’s people. God is always loving - always showing us God’s love and always offering a relationship with God. God is always strengthening and guiding us - God is “with us always” as Jesus promised - always offering guidance into God’s ways and God’s will for us. This is an intimate relationship with God - Father - Son - and Holy Spirit we are dealing with here - not just facts and dry doctrine. Through the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit - the Triune God - God is always at work in our lives - always creating and re-creating us - always loving us - always working for peace among us - and always strengthening and guiding us. What can we know about God? We can know the intimacy of the relationship our creating - loving - guiding and sustaining God offers us. The creating - loving - guiding - and sustaining work of God in the world is not history - but God is still at work - still creating - still loving - still strengthening - still guiding. Our Old Testament lesson for this Trinity Sunday gives us a vision of God who created all things -- and created all things good. God created all things -- and sustained and provided for all things. And -- as the author of Genesis so eloquently puts it -- all things are good. Indeed -- they are very good. At the beginning -- and -- by God’s renewing -- loving -- and life-giving power -- all things have the potential for goodness. The creating - loving - guiding - and sustaining work of God in the world that Genesis 1 so beautifully portrays for us is not just history - but God is still at work - still creating - still loving - still strengthening - still guiding -- still offering to all the potential to truly be the good creation they were created to be. When we think things have gotten as bad as they can get - there is God - Father - Son - and Holy Spirit -- the one who created all things good -- creating new possibilities for us - giving us new ways to relate to each other in goodness and peace - strengthening us to do His work and will in the world. That’s not just dry facts - that’s more than just doctrine - that’s good news for us - for our lives - here and now. Our Epistle and Gospel lessons give us examples of the renewing -- strengthening -- love of God -- Father - Son -- and Hoy Spirit -- all the power of God to make us new and bless us -- that we can experience for ourselves and share with others. We can know that God is always creating - giving us new opportunities to live as God’s people - renewing us so we can indeed be God’s people. We can know that God is always loving - always showing us God’s love and always offering a relationship with God -- always offering us ways to be more and more like Him -- ways we were indeed created for. We can know that God is always strengthening and guiding us - renewing us. God is “with us always” as Jesus promised - always offering guidance into God’s ways and God’s will for us and others. This is the triune – the triperspectival – nature of God. God is always creating - giving us new opportunities to live as God’s people - renewing us so we can indeed be God’s people. God is always loving - always showing us God’s love and always offering a relationship with God -- always offering us ways to be more and more like Him -- ways we were indeed created for. God is always strengthening and guiding us - renewing us. God is “with us always” as Jesus promised - always offering guidance into God’s ways and God’s will for us and others. What a wonderful truth that is! This is an intimate relationship with God - Father - Son - and Holy Spirit we are dealing with here - not just facts and dry doctrine. We can know the intimacy of the relationship our creating - loving - guiding and sustaining God offers us. We can know the forgiving and renewing work of God in our lives. The Holy -- yet loving - - guiding - - and sustaining work of God in the world is not just history - - but God is still at work - - still loving - - still strengthening -- still creating still making all things good -- still guiding. No -- friends -- the Doctrine of the Trinity -- God as Father -- Son -- and Holy Spirit -- isn’t just “head stuff” -- it’s not just dry doctrine -- it’s “heart stuff” it’s relational -- it’s good news for us - - for our lives - - here and now. The good news is that because we know that God is Father - Son - and Holy Spirit – because we know that God is always creating and re-creating us - always making all things good -- forgiving us and yet challenging us -- we can relate to God in certain ways - - always remembering God’s power and love -- and always open to God’s loving creating - - renewing -- challenging -- and strengthening work among us. Then -- we can relate to others in ways that are open to sharing God’s creating - - loving - - challenging -- and strengthening work with each other and with the world as we experience it in our lives. The doctrine of the Trinity is not just intellectual gymnastics - it is the very mystery of our relationship with God. It tells us what we can know about God. It tells us about the triune – or triperspectival – nature of God. Because of the Doctirne of the Trinity, we can know that - - even now - - God is creating and renewing -- making all things good -- giving us new life - - forgiving us -- giving us new strength and yet new challenges -- new ways to relate to each other and to Him - - Because of the Doctirne of the Trinity, we can know that -- even now - - God is loving and forgiving us -- and giving us new ways to be His people - - Be Because of the Doctirne of the Trinity, we can know that -- even now - - God is giving us new strength to do His will. The Trinity: God the creating Father God the loving Son God the strengthening and guiding Holy Spirit is really one - creating -- loving - - strengthening - forgiving -- renewing -- challenging -- guiding - - God that invites us to not only understand doctrines - - but invites us into an exciting -- creating -- loving -- forgiving -- challenging -- relationship with God and the world. So – it is triperspectival – We have to understand all 3 aspects of God to undertand God. But – once we begin to understand that it is through the Father - Son - and Holy Spirit - the Triune God – that God is always at work in our lives - always creating and re-creating us - always loving us - always working for peace among us - and always strengthening and guiding us – we begin to understand who God is and what God is doing in our world – and sing and proclaim with enthusiasm:
PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW PRAISE HIM ALL CREATURES HERE BELOW PRAISE HIM ABOVE THE HEAVENLY HOST PRAISE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST. AMEN.

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