God Is An Awesome God: Trinity Sunday

God Is An Awesome God: Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday: May 30, 2021

Year B: Isaiah 6:1-8; Psalm 29; Romans 8:12-17; John 3:1-17

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We are now beginning to return to our church building and see one another in person. We come here today seeking peace and comfort from a world that is fraught with division and conflict. Will we find that here today? And will we offer peace and comfort to a world fraught with division and conflict?

Last week we heard the good news that the promised Holy Spirit has fallen upon the church, inspiring it to carry the good news of God’s love to the world.

Today, the first Sunday after Pentecost, is a celebration of the Holy Trinity. It’s Trinity Sunday. It’s said that Trinity Sunday is the only day in the church calendar that we celebrate a doctrine of the church, not an event in the life of the church.

The doctrine of the Trinity, simply stated: There is One God and this One God is three “persons,” Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as they have been traditionally called, or “Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier”, if we think of the functions of God or what God truly does.

Maybe that wasn’t so simply stated. Not surprising – earlier this week I posed a question on Facebook and someone’s answer to me was this: “don’t overcomplicate things, Kathy”. Don’t overcomplicate things.

Well, the Trinity is a bit complicated at least when theologians get involved. We might think the Trinity is not for us to understand. While the Trinity is inexplicable and even incomprehensible (believe me that isn’t a heresy look at the Athanasian Creed found in the part of the Prayer Book that contains historic documents), the understanding of the Holy Trinity comes to us in the love of God for us and for us to bring that love to the rest of the world.

An easier way to describe the Trinity might be to say that it represents our Christian understanding of God, the Christian identity of God.

The Trinity is never specifically referenced in today’s scripture readings. Yet it’s essence permeates these readings. Throughout Scripture, we hear examples of people knowing God in different ways.

In our reading from Hebrew scripture, Isaiah had a vision of God the Creator. Isaiah was terrified by the grandeur of the holy God “high and exalted sitting on a throne with robes so voluminous they filled the room. The earth shook and thick smoke filled the temple, and six winged seraphs flew around”. Isaiah was so scared he thought he was about to die.

He was so stricken with fear that he cried out to God saying,” Woe is me, I am a man of unclean lips…yet my eyes have seen the Lord of Hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

Isaiah senses that God is incomprehensible, unknowable. But at the end of the reading, Isaiah accepts God’s call and agrees to be God’s messenger and prophet, calling people to repent and come into a relationship with YHWH.

Isaiah has experienced God’s presence and action in his life. That is certainly one way to experience God the Creator – to sense the power and majesty and stand in awe of God’s infinite might.

The Gospel today gives us another image of God. Nicodemus, a faithful Pharisee, has been following YHWH and the Mosaic Law all his life. He has heard of the new rabbi, Jesus, and knows of his healings and teachings, and respects him. Nicodemus hears the command that he must be “born again” literally and asks, “how can this be”? How can I be born a second time? Jesus continues and explains he is not talking about a human birth, but a birth from God. Jesus is talking about a rebirth in water and the Spirit that is made possible by the death and resurrection of Christ himself.

The Trinity is much like a jigsaw puzzle. The unique yet united parts–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit–are joined together in eternal relationship and community which we come to grasp through snippets in Holy Scripture and more snippets from our own corporate and individual experiences of God. We can’t say or know all of God, and that’s okay.

But remember the new life offered to Nicodemus, a new existence which comes from God. He took a risk to ask questions, questions that other religious folks of his day probably also wondered about, but Nicodemus risked to ask about.

The risks that Nicodemus took, the risks that Isaiah took – these are the risks we are asked to take. But if we take those risks, we can know that we one with Spirit, and that we have been born anew in this Spirit and adopted as children and heirs of the eternal Father, and brothers and sisters of the eternal Son.

When we take these risks we find our amazing Trinitarian God of abiding love, faithfulness, mercy, strength and justice and grace. And we are saved by the grace of God.

So, we must resist the urge to feel trapped by our inability to fully understand the Trinity. As humans, our minds have a limited capacity to comprehend (let alone articulate) the unknowable. But God still calls us – having given us the gift of reason – to reach past what we think is possible. This is a core tenet of Anglicanism going back to Thomas Cranmer and the Prayer Book and Richard Hooker who gave us the early formulation of scripture, tradition and reason that we love in the Episcopal Church.

It is essential for our broken world to know that we in our church are united under the loving care of our God; the God of love, the God of truth and the God of justice, the God of mercy and grace. The Trinity calls us to witness to God’s love and to share it with the world. We are called to give our lives, imperfect as we are, to be the church in this divided world. We are commissioned to show what real love is all about as we are filled with the presence and strength of God’s forgiving, restoring, compelling love that we hear about in Psalm 29. “Ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.

The God of glory, the God of the Trinity is an awesome God. We are invited to turn to God, and to return to God and to be born again, to be born into who we are created to be in God’s image and to be in relationship with God.

The creation of God and the redemption of Jesus Christ are the gifts of God that are perhaps most familiar to us. And the Holy Spirit inspires us, breathes God’s grace into us, into our very souls. What a gift we’ve been given.

It’s a gift we cannot fully explain. God is often beyond our grasp, beyond our telling, beyond our knowing. I am sure of this, however. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit never neglects or ignores us; indeed we are deeply loved by God.

May we never ignore the needs of the world around us and may we love deeply in God’s name. Amen.

Before the Covid-19 caused us to cancel services inside our churches, the sermons were usually recorded at St. Andrew’s and uploaded by Kemp Miller, for whose ministry we are all grateful. To access the entire library of audio files for past sermons, CLICK HERE