Such a lovely room

Such a lovely room

Sunday, June 4, 2023

YEAR A 2023 trinity sunday

Trinity, 2023
Genesis 1:1-2:4a
2 Corinthians 13:11-13
Matthew 28:16-20
Psalm 8

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

So, for a few years I went to a Lutheran High School.  Then I graduated from a Lutheran college.  I spent four years in an Episcopal seminary.  I played in a Christian band for 30 years.  I’ve studied Christian doctrine, Lutheran doctrine, Anglican doctrine (such as it is), and systematics.  I have friends who are legitimate theologians.  My brother and sister in law are both Lutheran pastors.  I have read a lot of books on theology.

And so, now I stand before you on this Trinity Sunday to tell you in the clearest possible terms that I do not understand the Trinity.

How can three persons be one person?  How can God be united and yet distinct?  How can three persons all be present at one time and yet not together?  I stand before you this Trinity Sunday to tell you that I do not understand the Trinity.

And anyone who tells you they do understand the Trinity is either lying or trying to sell you something—in the words of the Dread Pirate Roberts.  Nobody has a clear and concise explanation of the Trinity, because if somebody did, we’d all know it by now, and preachers wouldn’t live in fear of this day.  And yet, every year, the Sunday after Pentecost shows up, and here we are, another Trinity Sunday.

So, let’s look at the readings assigned to us for this day.  The first one, from Genesis, starts us at the beginning.  Of everything.  If you open a bible to the first page, this is what you get.  In the beginning, God.  And you know what?  The Trinity is there, though we don’t necessarily recognize the formula.  Remember last week when we heard that the Hebrew word for spirit, wind, and breath are the same?  Well right he in the opening verses we heard, “a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.”

In the beginning, the Holy Spirit is moving over the face of the waters, before anything else happens or is created.  And, remember how John’s gospel starts?  In the beginning was the Word, that is, Jesus.  When we put these two things together, we get the Trinity, right there at the beginning of everything.  In fact, before the beginning of everything.  Before there was anything, there was God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And in today’s second reading, from Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth, we get a closing that sounds vaguely trinitarian, where he says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”  But there’s actually no mention of God the Father, and it leads to the ongoing confusion of thinking of God being one person, and the Son and Holy Spirit being something else.  Maybe Paul didn’t quite understand the Trinity either?

But then we come to the gospel reading, from Matthew.  This is the closing of Matthew’s gospel story.  Right before this, the women went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices.  He was not there—as you hopefully recall—and the angel says, tell the others to go to Galilee and Jesus will meet them there.

And then we get today’s reading.  The 11 disciples are on the mountain in Galilee,  just as they were told to do, and Jesus appears to them.  And as we heard, “They worshipped him, but some doubted.”  This translation has been corrected recently to “They worshipped him, but they doubted.”  Because it doesn’t mean that all worshipped but some doubted; it actually means all worshiped and had some doubt.  Which is a very different thing, when you think about it.

But then we come to the trinitarian part, which is why we get this reading on Trinity Sunday.  Jesus says, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  And he adds, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  To the end of the age, Jesus is with us.  And where Jesus is, the Father and the Spirit are also.

We saw it in the beginning, when God was creating the heavens and the earth.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were there at creation.  Before there was anything.  And now we hear that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be with us always, to the end of the age, whenever that might be.  And this means, from before we were born, to long after we are gone, God is with us.  We all live our entire lives between those two points: before there was anything, and when there will be nothing.  And in between God is with us, every step of the way, every moment of our lives, with every single breath we take, from our first to our last.

And in the meantime, like those 11 disciples, we worship, but we doubt.  That’s true for me, and I’m willing to wager it’s true for you.  We don’t know everything; we have doubts; and we worship.  We gather together on Sunday mornings, with our doubts, and our insecurities, and our admission that after fours years of seminary we don’t understand the Trinity . . . but we keep coming back.  We keep worshipping.  We keep doubting.  And we keep hearing that God is with us until the end of the age.

We don’t need to fully understand—which is good, because we can’t.  We don’t need to fully trust—which is good, because we have doubts.   We only need to let God be God, and live our lives between the beginning and the end, which is exactly the place where God has promised to be.  

Jesus said: “Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


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