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Monday, May 23, 2016

All for One and One for All - Trinity in Action

Trinity Sunday 2016
So, I begin with a question for you this morning. Actually, it’s more like a series of questions; so, here we go:
Where do you find God?
What is God’s role in our lives?
How do we see God’s work played out in the day-to-day journey we are on, and in the more defining moments of our existence?
Those questions are based on the ones I hear all the time from people, the same kind of questions I like to ask people, as well. There is a lot to consider within each of those questions, my friends, and just asking them questions out loud, I feel a little bit like Alice sticking her head down the rabbit hole.
It’s not unlike the feeling I get whenever I consider the makeup and meaning of the Holy Trinity. Yet, here we are today. Welcome to Holy Trinity Sunday!
Each year we observe this Sunday, the week after Pentecost, as Holy Trinity Sunday, and we honor, and give thanks and praise for the fullness of God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit.
And on this Sunday, we pastor types – at least the ones not smart enough to take this Sunday as vacation - try – and fail – to come up with the winning definition or description of exactly what or who the Holy Trinity is and how it works.
Of course, we have various teachings of the church, like the words of the Athanasian Creed to help us. I want you to note that I have never actually asked you to recite the Athanasian Creed on this or any other Sunday.
For those who might not be familiar with the Athanisian Creed, it is a statement of belief written sometime around the 4th century and says a lot about how it is that God exists in three persons, separate yet united, all God, yet one God. This ancient creed goes on in complexity, for a page and a half, offering a way to understand or say what we believe about the Trinitarian God without falling into heresy.
In one small section we read, “Uncreated is the Father, uncreated is the Son, uncreated is the Spirit. The Father is infinite; the Son is infinite; the Holy Spirit is infinite. Eternal is the Father, eternal is the Son, eternal is the Spirit. Yet there are not three eternal beings, but one who is eternal; as there are not three uncreated and unlimited beings, but one who is uncreated and unlimited.”
This creed goes on to say that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are equal and inseparable. Did I mention that it goes on like this for a page and a half? To be honest, I’m not sure this creed or these words are really all that helpful to explain a mystery as deep and profound as the Holy Trinity.
It’s not that they are misleading or incorrect. But I think that what we are looking for today, that leads us to those questions I asked earlier is the desire to know, what does any claim that we make about the Trinity mean for our lives today?
What does any explanation or creed about the“Trinity”, do to help us in growing our lives of faith and hope? Perhaps a better question to ask on this Trinity Sunday is: how are we to understand and experience God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and what difference does it make in our lives?
These questions are important and they are a good place to start. They are very likely the ones we already and often ask ourselves – both aloud and in the silence of our hearts. Indeed, the what, where and how of God are questions that sometimes haunt us.
We ask them - as we gaze upon a star-filled sky; as we witness the diversity of creation through the grandeur of mountain vistas, and appreciatively take in the stark beauty of desert sands and the power of ocean waves; and we wonder how it is that all these things came to be; and we are pointed toward the answer: Creator God.
We also ask those questions when we lie upon our beds at night; when sitting at the bedside or kneeling at the grave of a loved one and wondering about their destiny; and we ponder them as we experience and observe the struggle and pain carved into humanity, and receive the reassurance of our baptism, answering us in deep sighs, “Saving Redeemer, full of grace.”
The questions are as old as humankind and as current as this morning’s news. They are as familiar as those other questions we ask, about who God is and why God allows this or that to happen.
The mystery and meaning as well as the truth about the presence of God, and the very nature of God are reflected in the various readings we have before us this morning. They affirm that God, creative, redeeming and sanctifying God, is capable of confronting our questions and lovingly accompanying us as we ask them. We sometimes receive answers through faith and hope which are given to us when we least expect them and most need them, not by our own effort, but by the presence of God that holds us in eternal relationship with the divine – the Holy Spirit.
It is God as Trinity who accompanies us when we are overwhelmed by our daily struggles; who comforts us when we are weary from life. As we struggle, God speaks to us through the words of Proverbs 8 and Psalm 8 which remind us how our loving God conceives of us human beings crowned with glory and honor.
 Can you imagine that? God imagines us crowned in glory and honor. It is for this reason that God redeems us through the incarnation and the salvation that Jesus brings. It is for this reason that God has taken on the burden of our sin. It is for this reason that in love, the Holy Spirit reveals God’s nature in Jesus Christ. It is for this reason that God made us free to make choices and to live our lives yet at the same time provides us the Spirit of truth to help guide our way.
When we are disturbed or alarmed by the natural, political and social chaos we witness each day, these texts assure us that God ultimately makes things work in harmony in this overwhelming world. Then, God calls us to participate in bearing the responsibility toward the well-being of the world around us.
The apostle Paul describes for us a life where, despite the agonized groan of the creation which surrounds us, we can know peace because of Jesus, who grants us the grace we need to be free to endure, grow, and live in faithful obedience to God. We have this assurance because of the love of God that is poured into our hearts by none other than the Holy Spirit. Even when our hope is challenged. Even when we feel as though we are under assault by forces around us that we can neither see nor understand; we are right to believe that God is with us and to hope that through the Holy Spirit God strengthens us and gives us the endurance and faith we need.
 “Where do you go to find God”?
Perhaps in the creative world around you, in the love shared in relationships given and blessed by God; community where we together, with holy purpose, we worship and praise God, and come to be strengthened and nourished, through God’s word and the working of the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps like me, you see God in acts of mercy and kindness witnessed in various places; In stories of generosity and altruism; In acts of solidarity and justice. I see God in the way this congregation reaches out to feed the hungry through coins noisily clanging in cans, boxes and buckets today. I see God at work as bagged lunches are faithfully assembled and delivered with love to those who need them; In the quilts we will bless next week, to be sent to the synod assembly and then given to Lutheran World Relief; in the care for creation and stewardship teams that work together to care for the resources God has so lovingly provided. I think of the work of our own volunteers and those of other local churches who take turns sharing God’s love and mercy at Easton’s Promise, the interfaith homeless shelter. I think of the ways many of you serve in the community, reading to children in schools, serving as local volunteers in education programs in schools, museums and nature centers; at Hospice; and in organizations around Easton and St. Michaels and other places. I see God in the way you go about serving in your daily vocations.
The Holy Spirit guides, blesses and makes holy our offerings of time, talent and treasure, the grateful responses of hearts and hands moved by God’s creating, nurturing, saving love which existed from before the dawn of time and which, in every age, God has made new and fresh and relevant for the whole human race.
In prayers lifted up and through words of encouragement I hear shared between you on a Sunday morning, I see the Holy Spirit binding us together for godly loving and caring. Each act, each word of care and support, each prayer, comes as the stirring of the Holy Spirit of God who declares God’s love in these and many other ways.
“What is God’s role in our lives?”
The answers to this question are as pointed and sure as the single response, “since God is love, God’s role is to love.” God’s creative role is constantly being seen and experienced not only in the natural world but also in the ongoing work of God’s loving us into existence and shaping us to be the people that God desires us to be. That’s a lot of work for God to take on! Even on my best days, I know that such shaping is like a full-time job for God.
But God, working as Father, Son and Spirit, takes on that job for each of us. In every moment of our lives and most especially in those defining moments when we are at the crossroads between life and death, joy and sorrow, service and need, we are abundantly blessed by the ever-loving, ever-present, ever-revealing God; Holy Trinity. Thanks be to God!

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