Trinity Sunday 2021
May 30, 2021 | Bryan Simmons
Passage: John 3:1-17
The official name for this Sunday is Sunday of the Holy Trinity, and it is the only Sunday on our church calendar that's dedicated to a specific doctrine teaching of the church. No other Sunday has that particular declaration. And for good reason--we're not here to explicitly teach church doctrine, we are here to talk about who Jesus is and why it matters.
But I think the reason the doctrine of the Holy Trinity Sun popped up is because it does become so central into our understanding of who Jesus is in our lives and how all of this works. If Jesus went to the cross and died for us, what does that make Jesus? Well, that makes Jesus God. Well, if Jesus is God, how does that relate to the God we've heard in the Old Testament? And if Jesus refers to himself as the Son of God and the son of man. And refers to God as God the Father. How does all that work?
So there's nothing in scripture that explicitly says "this is the Trinity and this is how it works." But it ends up being kind of the best way we as the church have come to think about these things based on what scripture says. And I think we've had some, you know, examples of trying to think about the Trinity--maybe you've heard about the egg where you've got the shell of the egg, you've got the white of the egg and the yolk of the egg, but it's all in egg. And, you know, in some ways, that's that's a nice thought, but it kind of falls flat as well as to what we talk about when we talk about how God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit interact with each other.
And then there's the three leaf clover, right? That each of the three leaves represents one of the persons of God, but it's all a clover. And I don't know if that's sufficient either? It kind of runs into the same problem as the egg, right? How best I've come to understand Trinity itself is through this idea of relationship and purpose. When you think about God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit existing eternally, they exist in relationship eternally. And when God created out of nothing, this creation that you and I enjoy and share in together he created us out of that.
It was out of relationship, that creation was created. So that's why we have such a strong sense of relationship to each other. And that gives us a relationship to God as well. The best way I've come to understand it comes from a story that when I was in second grade. And maybe some of you have heard this story and maybe some of you haven't, but I was in second grade, I was up in Minneapolis where I grew up, and I was skating with my cousins and my aunt at just one of those local parks with the skating rink. You know, normally a lot of parks up in Minnesota, they'll ice over the ball field and that becomes a skating rink.
And we're doing that just fine. But there's really no leveling of the ice in those things. I don't know if you've ever skated on a frozen ballfield or something. There's no Zamboni that they bring around to even it out. And my little second grade leg caught a divot in the ice and my leg twisted one way and I twisted the other and snapped my tibia right in half. And I went down to the ground. And I just, you know, second grade broke my leg, IMMEDIATELY started crying. Immediately, like loud, loud, crying, and so my aunt did what any good aunt would do and rushed to my side and tried to stand me up and say, it's OK, I'm fine. Fell right back to the ground like a sack of potatoes. So by that time, there was an attendant at the ice rink that came out and I kept saying, it's broken, it's broken, I know it's broken. And so they called the paramedics to come and the paramedics came and got me on a gurney into the ambulance. And off I went to the nearest hospital so that they could diagnose what was wrong, which was incredibly painful, and get me in a splint and get me started on the path to recovery. And there were nurses there. It was a doctor that came in and there were technicians working on the X-rays for me and just surrounded by so many people at a moment when I was completely scared and completely helpless. And they all helped me get through that moment.
And I wish I could say that after my leg healed, I went right back to ice skating and it was the best thing in my life. There's something in the back of my mind that just doesn't get me out there very much on the ice anymore. But along the way, I had the attendant at the ice rink. I had the paramedics that came out to carry me away into the ambulance and bring me to the hospital. I had the initial personnel that greeted me at the hospital to wheel me into my room in the E.R., and then I had the nurses look after me while the technicians took x-rays and the doctor made a decision as to how best for me to heal. And then they worked to put the splint on and then later the cast. All these different persons worked differently. But yet all of them worked as one. To help me. This, too, falls short of how we understand Trinity. But I think for me, helps to understand the distinctness of the person's. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And how they are indeed distinct from one another. But they are indeed one God for you and for me. And I think that helps us as we live in the era of the Spirit, not that the Father and the Son are somehow gone or that the Spirit is the face that sees us now and the Father and Son aren't there anymore or something like that.
But this is the age of the Spirit in that the person of the Spirit is what is interacting with us more and connecting us to the Son and the Father. And so when Jesus is talking to Nicodemus about these things. He doesn't explicitly say things like, well, did you know we're a we're a Trinity and we happen to, you know, hang out with each other and exist eternally in relationship. You knew, all that, right, Nicodemus? He's trying to get Nicodemus to understand beyond our current frame of thinking. This idea that we are born of water and the Spirit born of the flesh. And of the Spirit. And how the Spirit plays such a huge role in that, because the Spirit of God connects us to the Son and to the Father.
The ultimate love of God is known to us because of the cross of Christ and that beautiful resurrection on Easter morning. But that truth is made known to us through the work of the person of the Spirit. You and I in the Spirit's care under the Spirit's power. Our move to understand these things. To celebrate these things, to be together, to share in this story of redemption and forgiveness and grace and mercy. We have the love of God made known because of who Jesus is. Made alive to us because of the Spirit. We have never met the person of Jesus Christ. The Spirit keeps us connected. Just as the wind blows and we hear the sound of it, but we do not know where it came from or where it's going.
So, too, it is with everyone born of the Spirit. We can grasp it now, we can understand a little bit now. We can challenge our faith and grow in that understanding, of who we are in this world and who God is in our lives and how we can respond to the gospel. But we are carried by the Spirit into the mystery of God. Well, the reasons I hate preaching Trinity Sunday, because it's not like, "well, this is just how it is and this is how you can understand it." But it is the mystery we are called into.
And as we enter into what's called ordinary time in the church. That is what celebrates the work of the Spirit the most. Because it is God's very Spirit that guides us together, calls us together, helps us to see the work God wants us to do in the world together that continues, this mission that got started from the very beginning of creation--realized fully through Christ and Christ's mission. This is the work that we do together. Standing for the oppressed, helping the poor, proclaiming the truth of the freedom of God. Because of what Jesus has done for you and for me. What's more is it gives us this opportunity to see God not as the almighty that is waiting in the clouds to smite us when we swear or something like that. Right? But for us to, as Paul says, call out to God as ABBA, Father.
Because the Spirit that connects the Son to the Father is the same Spirit that connects you to the Son and to the Father. And makes us not just creation's somehow apart from God. But remember, the Trinity exists as a relationship from eternity and out of that relationship bore us. We are so incredibly intertwined into the same God that made us that we are indeed family. To God and to one another.
So do we have a GREAT way of explaining what the Trinity is? Mostly? But understanding the Trinity is not the most important thing that we do as a church. But our mysterious understanding of it is what draws us even closer to God. For you and me, all people are intimately connected to the one God that made us all. That makes us intimately connected to one another. That makes us want to and ought to look out for our neighbors as family. So that we can truly accomplish what God wanted in the first place. For us to enjoy the relationship of eternal love. Eternal. Holy forever. This relationship comes about through freedom. Through grace. Through forgiveness. And justice. All revealed to us by the person and work of Jesus Christ. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. So that everyone who believes in him may not perish, but may have eternal life. May this central truth of the faith guide you. And may it bring you into a closer relationship with our God above. Amen.