Gospel lesson and Pastor Richard Pokora’s sermon from Sunday, May 30, 2021
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and His Son our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Lutheran Church provides a book-like resource titled, Sundays and Seasons, to guide and assist pastors with worship preparation. Here is what Sundays and Seasons has to say about the celebration of the festival of Holy Trinity.
“We’re not always sure how to best celebrate the festival of Holy Trinity. Yet the very essence of the Christian faith is embedded in the ancient declaration of the early church that God has revealed his own self in three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Couple this with the fact that they are “one in three and three in one” and you end up with the puzzling feeling that all we’re left with is that God is more mysterious than we ever expected.”
I thought it interesting to hear a Lutheran Church worship resource admit we ‘re not always sure how to celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday and that, after all is aid and done, God may remain more mysterious than we ever expected.
I think it’s safe to say two things about our understanding of the Holy Trinity. First, most Christians have questions about the nature of the Trinity. Secondly, those Christians who argue they can explain the Trinity and clear up the uncertainty are probably wrong.
From time to members of our congregation have shared their thoughts on the Trinity with me. I have heard it said the idea of the Trinity makes a simple faith too complex. Others believe in one God, but question how there can be three persons. Finally, many good Christians believe in the Trinity, but are not sure what to make of it or how to explain it.
We might even ask if believing in the Trinity makes any real difference to our faith. In other words, does belief in the Trinity in some way impact our love of God and neighbor or bring into question forgiveness of sins or our hope for salvation? Probably not.
Maybe we should begin our exploration of the Holy Trinity with a several statement relating to the Trinity. John’s First Letter says this about God. In that epistle, John writes these words: “Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him.” John tells us God is love. If you do not know God as love, you don’t know God. God so loved us that he sent this only Son that we might find eternal life through him.
Jesus uses these words to explain his oneness with God. He prayers at the Last Supper: “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” God abides in Jesus, as Jesus abides in us. Just as we are one with Jesus, so Jesus is one with God.
Jesus also has this to say about the Holy Spirit. He says he will ascend to heaven and that when he ascends to heaven the Holy Spirit, that is the Advocate will be sent in his place. John writes: “When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” The Holy Spirit comes from God in place of Jesus to prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness and judgment and to guide us into all truth.
Out of love for humanity God sent Jesus to teach God’s truth and offer us an example we might follow. When Christ ascends to the Father, the Spirit has been sent in us place. God never abandons us. God the father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. They represent the same profound truth to us, but in different ways and are always present to us as expressions of divine love.
Think about it through this very personal question. Can you recall a person through whom you felt deeply loved? How was that love expressed to you? To help answer these questions I want to recall Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love languages, which I used in a sermon several weeks ago. Do you remember the five different love languages Chapman identified in his book. Let me help you jar you jar your memory. The five ways we express our love to others are through words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
If you love someone, you will affirm them, spend quality time with them. You will give them gifts that represent your affection. You will help them out through acts of service. Finally you will express your affection through physical touch of a hug, or holding a hand or giving a kiss. We express our love for others in multiple ways. These are the love languages.
That’s what God does for us through the Trinity. Think of the Trinity as God’s love language for human beings. We speak of God first as Father or Creator. Think back to the story of creation. When God earth and all it’s creatures, what does he say. He says creation is a gift, Remember gift giving is one of the love languages. God’s creation is a gift of love.
God also says he expresses his love for us through his Son. Remember how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper. He set an example of himself being a servant to them. Think of that story as an act of service, again one of the love languages. Jesus expresses his love through service and calls upon us to be a servant to others. Servanthood is an expression of love.
Thirdly, through the Holy Spirit we receive God’s love as words of affirmation. Jesus says the Spirit will speak God’s words of love to us. The Apostle Paul said in his letter to the Roman that there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. That Spirit builds us into the body of Christ. The Spirit of God expresses itself in a love that builds us up and affirms as children of God. Think of the Holy Spirit as also one of God’s love languages.
When I was a child, I knew my Aunt loved me. She always gave her nieces and nephews a hug and kiss. Welcomed us to her home. Sent us cards and gave us modest presents for birthdays and Christmas. Took time to speak with us. Made sure we got to Sunday school. She was the very personification of the love languages. You saw and felt and heard her love.
It’s that sort of love we celebrate on Holy Trinity Sunday. God express his love as creator through the gift of creation. We find his love in Christ the servant. The Holy Spirit speak God’s words of affirmation which build us into the body of Christ. The Holy Trinity is one great message of love expressed in three unique ways. May you experience that love in your life. Amen.
May the peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.