A perspective on the Holy Trinity
Today is the first Sunday after Pentecost, it is Holy Trinity Sunday. Today we celebrate and take a closer look at the Holy Trinity that is, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. At times, we use the Nicene Creed in worship services. It is an attempt to formulate the relationship between the three persons in the Holy Trinity. It was also developed to provide a common expression of faith and understanding of the Holy Trinity. The creed was produced at the council of Nicaea in the year AD 325. At that time and for many centuries afterwards, if a person held to a different view of the Holy Trinity then death by stoning or burning at the stake awaited them. At great risk to life and limb or at least a severe tongue lashing, I hope to speak faithfully and give glory to the Holy Trinity.
Let us face reality, the Holy Trinity is invisible, God is invisible. How on earth does a person try and describe or explain something that is invisible? Human language is based on things we can point to. The things we can see or experience, we give them a name. For example, I see a wooden cross, or I feel a headache coming on. Imagine going back in time a thousand years and trying to explain to the people then what the World Wide Web is of today. They would not be able to comprehend a word of it. At that time, they thought the world was flat compared to our increased knowledge and understanding of the world being a globe.
God realised the limitations of the human language, and his own predicament. God wanted to be seen and understood as a God who loves and cares for his creation. God did not seek personal glory and praise for the sake of it as perhaps in a master to slave relationship. Instead, God wanted to be reached so that life could be freely given.
Then, a wonderful thing happened. God made a journey to earth and made himself known to his creation in a new and unexpected way. He was born a baby in the town of Bethlehem and was called Jesus. God’s physical presence on earth allowed people to talk about God in a new way. They could be specific in language; they could call him by name, refer to his activities, point to his good works, speak about his nature, and share their experience with him to others. Through Jesus a personal relationship with him could be developed.
Jesus, through his life on earth revealed the nature and will of the invisible God. His life on earth was very busy. He taught the people wherever he went, in Synagogues, in villages, in the fields, and even from a boat to a crowd on the shore. He taught them about his Father in heaven, and the way to true life. Jesus also performed abundant miracles wherever he went. Just to mention a few: he turned water into wine at a wedding festival, he calmed a storm to save his disciples who were in a boat, he fed a hungry crowd of five thousand, he healed the sick and raised Lazarus from the grave. Through Jesus, we see a God who loves all of us. His will and intent is to restore us to life, and particularly give us eternal life with him in heaven.
Since the days in the Garden of Eden where human kind first decided to depart from the way of God nothing but trouble and decay has followed us. Sin and its consequences are always with us. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden they caused the world to change. There was no going back to the way it was. In his mercy and love for his creation, God enabled Adam and Eve to cope in a changed world. He did something new and unexpected. He made cloths for them to wear. Then there was no further need for them to hide from God because of their shame.
Since the day of the original sin, our bodies grow old and decay unto death. We are all born with varying degrees of physical or mental limitations and challenges. None of us are perfect, far from it, we are all flawed and need of help. Our greatest challenge is to love one another. Whenever we sin we change the world we live in. Through greed and lies our relationships are broken at all levels. There is no going back to the way things were. However, Jesus through his love for us is able and willing to help us to cope in a changed world. He can bring healing in new and unexpected ways. His love and care is as much for you as it is for all of creation.
After Jesus’ ministry on earth, he ascended into heaven from where he came. God ascended into heaven, and promised to send us his Holy Spirit so that we may not be alone. Like Jesus, the Holy Spirit is the nature and love of God dwelling with us. Though, not like Jesus who dwelt in one place and at one time, instead the Holy Spirit dwells throughout the world in all time.
At the time when Jesus was on earth, people were able to see and point to his miracles and teaching. They were indeed the handy work of God. Today, God’s handy work continues through the Holy Spirit. It is a reference to his continued existence with us as if Jesus was with us in person in our own community. Furthermore, God’s handy work is a reference to his commitment to maintain and restore his creation to life, albeit in new and unexpected ways.
Jesus deals personally with you as does the Holy Spirit, anyway it is all God. You would have heard many sermons and songs of how Jesus loves you and what it means for you. Today, I would like to venture a little further afield. The Spirit of God moves over the face of the earth motivating all sorts of people into action for the purpose of bringing salvation to all of his creation. When and where it is necessary the Spirit of God will raise a voice in the wilderness to speak for those suffering under poor working conditions. At times, such a voice has been called the Trade Union movement. There is a voice from the sea that calls to help save the whales from slaughter and extinction. There are many voices. There are human rights movements, animal rights movements, save the tree, and save the planet groups. We have prayed for peace and God has given us the United Nations and their peace keeping forces. We have prayed for healing, and God has given us medicine, doctors and hospitals the world over. We pray for the unemployed and the poor in the world, and so God has moved factories from the rich countries to the poor countries. The list of God’s handy work is endless including the work of all the volunteers in our community. The Holy Spirit moves in new and unexpected ways to restore and bring life to his creation the world over.
We may not like some of these voices or movements because of our own self interest. They may clash with our other beliefs and values that we hold. These voices or groups are not perfect in deed or word as we are not perfect either. Nonetheless, any voice or new movement that endeavours to foster and restore life to a part of God’s creation needs to be considered as a possible initiative of the Holy Spirit.
In all of the Holy Spirit’s busyness throughout the world there is one voice missing or at least it is there as a soft muted voice. That, which is missing is the voice of forgiveness. The greatest handy work of God, the greatest act of grace and the restoration of life is the act of forgiveness. Jesus died a cruel death on the cross as the means to restore our relationship with God. Through this act our sins are forgiven. Whatever wrong we have done, God will no longer remembered them. It was an unexpected act, but the only way in which we can now have a renewed relationship with God and a place with him in heaven. This act of forgiveness through Jesus was greater than the healing he provided, or the teaching, or the feeding of the hungry. Forgiveness delivers us from fear of judgement, it gives us peace, and it gives us joy and hope. Furthermore, forgiveness enables us to respond in kind to others. Jesus has restored our relationship with God now and forever. The voice for the declaration of forgiveness of sins has been given to the Church. Jesus has commissioned his followers, his disciples, his Church to go into all the world and to declare God’s saving grace through Jesus.
Of great importance to all of us here today is to know and to be aware that the fullness of the Holy Trinity is experienced right here during worship at church. Through the Divine service in which the Holy Trinity serves us, we are strengthened and preserved in body and soul to life everlasting. In the service we confess our sins and receive the proclamation of forgiveness, we hear the word of God and his love for us, and we are invited to the Lord’s Table to partake in Holy Communion. All in all, the Holy Spirit moves us, and Jesus is in us busy doing what he does best. Jesus brings healing into our life. And the handy work of God will be there and possibly in new and unexpected ways for us to see and experience.
If the creedal trigonometry of the Holy Trinity is still confusing to understand, then don’t worry, be happy, for there is only one name given under heaven and on earth through which we are saved. Jesus is our saviour. If someone asks you, “Show me God” then point them to Jesus. Again, if someone asks you, “Show me the Holy Spirit” then point them to Jesus. For in Jesus the invisible Holy Trinity is revealed. Amen.