May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord our strength and our redeemer. Amen.
Many of us love a good mystery.
Mystery TV Shows and books never get old. They’re everywhere.
Sherlock Holmes has taken a million different forms and reincarnations throughout the years.
But when it comes to today, Trinity Sunday:
Preachers often note that this is our only church celebration devoted to a doctrine:
To a great mystery.
And many preachers will attempt to explain the mystery of the Holy and Undivided Trinity in less than twelve minutes.
These efforts are rarely successful.
Because the Trinity is a serious, deep and rich mystery.
There’s no summary for it:
And certainly not a twelve minute one!
To reduce this mystery to something we can rationally comprehend misses an opportunity for us to open ourselves up to the divine mystery.
We can talk about the history of the doctrine itself.
You can go to Wikipedia later today, and learn some pretty good stuff on the development of the doctrine.
But that’s not the point of today’s celebration.
The real point of today, is this deep, unfathomable mystery that is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit:
Leading us and guiding us, not as a historical doctrine:
But as a real and true guide for us on this very modern day.
In fact, the Trinity is as true and powerful today as it was a thousand years ago.
It’s a mystery that encompasses every one of every age.
Last Sunday, on the Day of Pentecost:
We heard about the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.
And it continues today.
In today’s Gospel we hear Jesus saying,
“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you in all the truth.”
Jesus was speaking to his disciples:
His close friends:
Just before his final meal, arrest, and crucifixion.
In addition to his promises that we would be raised to new life on the third day:
He wanted his followers to know that God would NEVER abandon them.
That the Holy Spirit would be their companion and guide forever.
He was reassuring them that although they were about to face HUGE challenges:
God would be with them.
We humans are pretty silly creatures.
We like to take care of things ourselves.
We are trained to rationally define our reality:
To explain things away: And not seek deeper reality.
We’re told to be leaders, not followers.
Hence, the tendency to explain away the mystery of the trinity on a day like today:
As if it’s something that humanity can explain, and then just put away in the closet.
Yet Jesus says that we don’t need to do any of that!
We are freed from these human limitations:
Freed from acting like we have it all figured out.
Imagine a different way of approaching the challenges of our lives.
Imagine listening to God:
Rather than informing God of how we’d like things to work out.
Imagine that we come to see that there is a deeper meaning to our reality.
Imagine that we can turn to God for guidance when we face difficulty.
We don’t have to imagine any of this!
It IS our reality.
In the Trinity, we see a God who is with us ALWAYS:
Who shows us perfect love,
And who NEVER abandons us.
In Jesus, we see everything there is to see about God’s love:
Even if we can’t comprehend the entire mystery.
We see a person who entered our world in the humblest,
And most ordinary way possible.
We see a person who loved everyone and who challenged everyone to be transformed.
That’s a really important point:
Jesus invites EVERY person to be transformed by the power of God’s love.
In Jesus we see that God was willing to endure the pain and suffering of our humanity:
All so that we might see the wide embrace of God’s love for all people.
And in Jesus, we see the triumph of God’s love over even death itself.
We see, in the resurrection, that God’s love can make us fearless:
That we don’t need to be afraid of anything: not even death.
But the mystery of the Holy Trinity pushes us to look even further.
Last Sunday and today, as we think about the Holy Spirit:
We see yet another dimension of God’s love for us.
In the Holy Spirit, God has promised to be with us always:
To guide us into all truth.
The Holy Spirit’s guidance and love is inseparable from the love of God the father,
And from the love of God the son.
The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, and Jesus and the Father are one.
There is a mutual glorification at work,
And each person of the Holy Trinity reveals something about the other persons of the Trinity.
And that is what can draw us into the heart of God’s eternal love.
The Trinity represents how God’s very being is about relationship and love.
The Holy Trinity is itself the manifestation of God’s abiding promise to be with us at every turn, through every struggle.
This is Good News in our time.
So often our temptation is to tear others down:
But we see in the Trinity, a God who unites and glorifies:
Always in loving relationship.
So often our impulse is to separate ourselves from what challenges us:
But we see in the Trinity a God who is eternally steadfast.
So often we limit our reality or our possibilities to what fits into our own understanding:
But in the Holy Trinity, we see a God who promises to lead us into all truth, into deeper mystery- beyond anything we can ask or imagine.
So often, we forget the nearness of God.
But in the Holy Trinity, we see that God is ALWAYS with us.
Even when we leave on new adventures, or some other new venture of the unknown:
We’re NEVER alone.
So today, we won’t explain away the Trinity.
Instead, we’ll sing songs of praise to God the Father,
God the son,
And God the Holy Spirit.
Let’s give thanks that the Triune God loves us more than we can imagine:
Is with us always, at all times, and in all places:
Shedding love that is beyond anything we can ask or imagine.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, Oh Lord my strength and my redeemer.
Fifty days after Passover, Jews celebrated the festival of Pentecost.
Originally, it celebrated the wheat harvest,
But it later became the commemoration of the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai.
As the fiftieth day of Easter, Christians maintain this festival:
Altering its focus to a celebration of the Spirit of the risen Christ in the Church.
It’s a festival day:
A party day:
And it’s often thought of as the Church’s birthday.
Like the fire and wind on Mount Sinai:
People gathered on that day of Pentecost:
From all over:
And Experienced the same fire and wind as the spirit descended upon them.
From then on:
The miraculous events, seen in the ministry of Jesus:
Occur in the Church.
Today we celebrate the fire of God’s word:
The fire of God’s spirit:
On the foreheads of the faithful.
In John’s Gospel, we hear of the Spirit bringing the TRUTH of God to the community.
It is the conclusion of the Easter Season:
And the celebration of the beginning of the church.
We hear in the Acts of the Apostles, of that first birthday:
Where there is a sort of party:
A party that encompasses all that Jesus said and taught:
Because the invitation list is insane.
Everyone is there:
Not just Jews:
There’s Galileans, Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Romans, and Arabs.
People are having such a good time, that you would think they were drunk.
But they’re not:
They just received the most incredible party favors of prophecy, visions, and dreams:
As the spirit of God descends upon them:
Just as Jesus promised.
Just as the scriptures had prophesied.
And this is the focus of Pentecost:
The fulfillment of Jesus’ promise made to his disciples before his crucifixion and resurrection:
The promise that believers will not be alone:
It’s a promise that the Spirit has descended.
That the spirit will be the link between God and the believing community:
That the spirit of God:
It’s a promise that the breath that breathes life into our very bones:
Will create, and recreate:
In the church:
In the world:
And in all of creation.
But the celebration of Pentecost sometimes gets lost:
Is sometimes forgotten:
As Christmas and Easter have become more prominent in our culture.
Yet Pentecost is just as important:
Just as significant.
Christians might feel like they have been left hanging out to dry.
Here in the present:
After Jesus has ascended:
Stuck between the past of Jesus’ historical presence,
And the Future of Jesus’ creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
We would be left with nothing in between.
But the event of Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit’s Indwelling with God’s people:
And the “birthday of the Church”
Reminds us that God continues to walk God’s people:
In nearness and in love:
And that through the power of the Holy Spirit:
Jesus continues to be present to each of us in a very real, and tangible way.
Pentecost is the realization of Jesus’ promise:
A promise that is fulfilled every time the incarnate Word comes to us:
In the scriptures, in our interactions, and in our relationships.
A promise that is fulfilled every time the bread of life comes to us in the bread of the altar.
This celebration of Pentecost reminds us that God is with us.
Notice that Pentecost is about RE-Creation:
Not creation itself.
The Holy Spirit already existed well before Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit:
The Spirit of God is that which the whole world was created.
Yet after Pentecost:
Continues to be transformed:
Re-Newed, and re-born.
So while Today, many celebrate the Birthday of the Church:
I think it’s more a celebration of the Church’s “Baptism day”
As the Church:
In a kind of baptism:
Experiences and remembers the renewal of re-creation.
As the church is baptized into both the death and the resurrection of Christ:
As all of these people gathered:
From all different places:
Feel the Spirit on their foreheads.
And actually: the gift of the spirit:
While certainly present in birth and in creation:
Really reaches its fullness at baptism.
Where one is re-created:
Marked as Christ’s own forever.
When we mark the cross on the foreheads of the newly baptized:
We create a new, intimate Pentecost:
As we say that they “have been sealed by the Holy Spirit in baptism,
And marked as Christ’s own forever.”
Baptism becomes Pentecost:
Pentecost becomes baptism:
And the baptized are changed:
Just as the Church, on that long ago Pentecostal day was changed and transformed:
Drawing the people more deeply into communion with God and each other:
To the ends of the earth:
In every language.
And this is what I love about Pentecost:
That the story isn’t over:
Even after Christ is resurrected:
Even after he ascends into heaven:
The Spirit is still present, still forming us:
And all of creation groans with the labor pains.
Pains that bring forth new life.
We are people of the spirit:
People in which the spirit of God literally dwells:
And it’s our task to hold onto the continual hope of God’s re-creation.
On this day of Pentecost we are pushed to dream big dreams:
Dreams for the world:
Dreams for ourselves:
To even strive for the Dream of God.
And are you tired of me saying it yet?
That there’s NO dream we can’t explore.
No dream too big.
No dream too small.
There’s nothing we can’t try.
There are no limitations:
When the spirit of God is involved:
Everyone is invited:
People of every nation:
Of every language:
The young and the old:
Rich and poor.
On that first baptismal day of the church:
The Spirit gave everyone ability.
The Spirit made everyone visible
When before, the disciples had been in closed rooms,
Behind locked and shut doors:
The invitations were few:
The dreams were locked.
On Pentecost the Spirit blew the doors down,
And sent the disciples into the world:
To re-create the world:
To preach the good news:
To speak to all:
Young and old:
Gentile and Jew:
Egyptians and Asians.
So that everyone might hear the dream of God.
So that everyone:
Guided by the spirit would dream big dreams:
Would feel the labor pains:
As the spirit:
Intimately dwelling within:
Urges God’s beloved to dream and hope:
To dream and hope so big:
That the sighs would be too deep for words.
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