Sermon 06-03-2012 Trinity Sunday – Communion
Psalm 8 Matthew 28: 16-20
“Why the Trinity?”
In the church calendar, we are now moving into the ordinary time,
meaning that as we have celebrated the coming of the Holy Spirit on
Pentecost, the church is now ready to respond to its call to mission in the
Why is the Trinity so important to us?
“Does it really matter to us that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Won some level we just want to know that God is God and that God somehow knows who we are, where we are, what we are doing and what we need.
I have to agree with Steven Eason, that it can be a heady discussion to talk about the Trinity. If we look up it’s history, it was not an easy doctrine to nail down. There is a ton of mystery that surrounds the person or persons of God. Some people seem entirely clear about it; others are confused, and still others could care less… Do you know where you stand?
Why do we even need a Trinity Sunday? One may ask. It does not get a lot of press. Maybe that is because it is so confusing and we really do not know how to talk about it. A simple illustration from the great Augustine may help where he used the example of a tree. The root is wood; the trunk is wood; the branches are wood; one wood, one substance but three different entities. Now there is a short sermon!”
Trinity can be seen like a tripod with three legs as part of one structure; or like water as liquid, ice as solid and steam as gas. Another analogy would be that, we are parents and children and partners, all in one person.
“Perhaps we can come at it another way. What if there was no Trinity? Jesus told his disciples and tells us to go and baptize people in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
What if we baptized people only in the name of God the Father? Besides sounding awkward, it would deny the very work and person of Christ and the ongoing activity of the Spirit. It would not be a full picture of who God is. You would be immersed into the fullness of a very powerful, mysterious, but detached God. That could lead us to mere mysticism.
What if we baptized people in the name of Jesus? That would miss the person of ‘God the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth,’ that part of God that is larger than what we can see or understand and is beyond our logic and reason. It would also miss the Holy Spirit, the ongoing
presence of God with us today.
What if we say only, ‘I baptize you in the name of the Holy Spirit’? What is missing there? Missing would be the awesomeness and creativity of God the Father and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, who is God in human flesh. We would miss part of God who rose from the dead to overcome our sinfulness. We can’t leave that out!
We are immersed into the whole being of God, whether we understand it or not. We are not powerless in the world; we are not disconnected from God as Creator, or from the redeeming work of God in human flesh, or from the very presence of the same God in the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us and among us and sometimes outside of us.
In Matthew 28, we see that Jesus is the final actor in this scene; and
gives the disciples their commissioning:
“First, Jesus announces the premise on which the Great Commission
rests. Jesus stands on the divine authority given to him by God. Jesus now
has the right to command the Eleven to “make disciples” because “all
authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to him. His authority is
also a notion of power …the disciples are given the credentials for their
mission, but more, than that they are promised the potencial to carry it out.
Secondly, Jesus confronts the disciples with an awesome commission.
They are to “make disciples of all nations.” Let’s remember that earlier in the
ministry of Jesus the charge was to avoid the Gentiles and the Samaritans
and to go first “to the lost sheep of Israel” (10:6), now in light of the death
and resurrection, the scope of the mission is universal. Two significant things
are mentioned as ingredients of the commission:
(a) “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit,”
implying that a new relationship is established with the Father, the Son and
the Holy Spirit that marks them as a peculiar people.
(b) “Teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you,” adds a
further dimension in the calling of the nations.
The eleven are commissioned not only to instruct the baptized about
what Jesus has said about the kingdom of God, to transmit his
interpretations of the law, but also to teach them to obey Jesus. The
instructional task is only completed when the nations in fact perform the
teaching of Jesus. The intent is to nurture a community that does not take
God’s goodness lightly, but lives out in the world the discipleship of Jesus’
Third, Jesus promises the divine presence to the church as it responds
to the commission. Matthew reminds us the church, that Jesus’ name
Emmanuel, means God is with us (1:23). Along the way, they overhear
the promise to the disciples that when they gather in worship, Jesus will be
present amongst them. (18:20).
This means, on the one hand, that the church must always be aware
of its mission… It always baptizes, teaches, serves, speaks, makes disciples
of the nations within the awareness of the presence of the risen Jesus. Its
authority remains a derived authority, dependent on the One who possesses
all authority. On the other hand, the church after Easter is not abandoned…”
(Walter Brueggemann, “Text for Preaching,” Year A, pg. 344-345)
At the end of the story, Jesus said:
“And remember I am with you always, to the end of age.” (v.20)
“And see, I am sending you what my Father promised…” (Luke 24:49)
the Holy Spirit.”
For the disciples, “it was in their relationship to him and his to the
triune God that they would access the power to heal, proclaim, and teach.”
(Stephen B. Boyd, “Feasting on the Word.” Year A, vol. 3, p. 46).
Today, Jesus is inviting us to a divine life in him. Christ and the immersion into the fullness of God go hand in hand. We cannot be part of Christ without the work of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is dependent upon what and who Jesus was and is. Christ keeps pointing to the Father. So therein lies the power. It is in the Trinity that we find the fullness of God.” Amen! (Steven P. Eason, “Feasting on the Word.” Year A, vol. 3, p. 44-48)
May the blessing of God who risked everything for our sake,
The blessing of Christ who calls us to be disciples to all nations,
And the blessing of the Holy Spirit who guides our paths, be with us all.
Go into the world in the name of the Holy Trinity! Amen!