Holy Trinity Sunday

June 16, 2019


It is not only American Father’s Day, and the ALC church picnic, but it is also Holy Trinity Sunday today.  It is the Sunday in which we tackle the question, “What is the Trinity?”

Now this is a question that I know that I asked early on in my life because my home church, the church in which I was baptized, went to Sunday School, was confirmed at and eventually ordained in is named, “Trinity”.  So, I know that I asked my mom and dad what that name meant sooner than later, I don’t remember exactly when I asked, but I do remember one part of the answer.  One part of my parents’ answer involved having me look at the shape of the windows that marched down either side of the sanctuary.  They had me look at these windows because the windows were tall, acute triangles made of colored glass.  Triangles, as we all know, have three sides and thus are an ancient symbol of the Trinity.

And so, my parents explained that the Trinity is God.  Like, a triangle which is one shape with three sides, God is made up of, or comprised of three persons.  The Trinity is three persons whom we understand differently for they have different responsibilities within God’s relationship with his creation, with us.

I must have understood enough of my parent’s explanation to have moved onto other questions, but it was not the last time I tried to come to a better understanding of the Trinity.  Like Black Holes in space, the Trinity is understandable, but not fully explainable, and ultimately leaves us with the mystery which it holds.

And yet, though it holds mystery we do need to wrestle with the question of the Trinity, for it is important for our lives and for our faith, because of whom the Trinity is; God.  In fact that in reality is the better question, “Who is the Trinity?”

We ask a similar question of most everyone we relate to, at some point in our lives.  “Who is our dad? Who is our mom?  Who is our friend? and, Who am I?”

To most of you, I am foremost, Pastor Joel, the person called here to the ALC to spiritually teach you, support you, enable you and lead you into ministry.  Yet, I know for at least one of you, I am not thought of firstly as pastor, but as husband, companion, friend, supporter and her other-half.  But of course, there are also two boys in here to whom I am not pastor nor husband, but rather father, care-giver, mentor and Dad.

So, who am I?  I am many persons, depending upon how you relate to me, and what I do for you, ‘cause I am also son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, and so much more too.  Like you, I am multi-faceted, not easy to “pin down” and explain away, and if you and I are not so easy to explain, what might we say about God?

Our human constructed doctrine of the Trinity is in all actuality probably too simple in trying to come to a better understanding of God.  The doctrine of the Trinity came about from looking at the different ways that the Bible talks about who God is, and how God relates to us.  The Trinity is a way that we can try and understand God, and talk about God in a fuller manner, but even this simple construct gets messy, doesn’t it?

So, perhaps, we need to concentrate more upon some of the explanations of God that the Bible gives us, and not worry so much about the intricacies of how these three persons of God, comprise the Trinity.  For instance, how do we understand our relationship to God?  We understand by looking at how God relates to us in our lives, earthly and eternal.

To do this, let’s look at the five verses today from Romans 5.

In these verses we understand that through our relationship with Jesus Christ, we find peace with God.  Jesus’ teaching about forgiveness and love, that was made real in his death and resurrection, move us from a place of simple fear of God, to a place of relationship with God.  Then we can understand that God’s love is truly for us, and we can understand this because the Holy Spirit pours God’s love into our hearts.

Let me put this in another way.  Too often in the Old Testament, when we read of how the people of Israel, as well as others viewed God, they simply saw and understood God as a hard, stern Judge who was there to make them pay for their wrongdoings.  They did not understand that God, who had created them, loved them as his beloved children.

It was in the person of Jesus, that God’s people came to peace with their idea of God simply as stern judge.  They did this when Jesus opened their eyes to the reality that God wanted the best for them, and was not simply waiting around to punish them, but even more, God wanted to forgive them for their mistakes, and help them to live life as they were created to live.

But it was not until they met God in the Holy Spirit that they came to the full understanding that life with God was full of love and joy, no matter the hard circumstances of life, for life went beyond this earth into eternity.

It is a little bit like when I was a leader and wilderness guide for youth groups who were taking canoe trips into the wild forests and lakes of Northern Minnesota.  As guide, I not only needed to lead these groups upon a trip, but I needed to teach them how to live in the wilderness, and then protect them from themselves and the dangers of the wild.

At the beginning of each week I was pretty hard-nosed and stern with the youth of each group.  Some admitted later on, to even being a little scared of me, but I acted this way  when we met so that they would listen to me, and if I said, “No” they would obey me, and so stay safe.  My main concern was their well-being.

As time progressed with each group, I let them know that I was not only stern, but also friendly and was there to forgive them when they made a mistake, because I cared for them. My smile helped them to know they were safe, and so, the kids started to understand that I wanted the best for them on their trip.

And then, when I started to laugh with them, sing, and share of whom I was with them, they came to know that I loved them for whom they were too.  And so, we came to a full relationship with one another by the end of our week or ten days together.

I was not simply the stern leader, nor the friendly care-giver, nor the fun, friend, but all three, and more.  They did not really know me, until they had experienced me in each of these ways.  Their growing relationship with me over the course of their trip was a little like how we encounter God in the Trinity.

God is more than simply either the; Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, rather, God needs to be experienced and related to by us, in each of these different types of relationship.  One does not fully know God, until one knows God as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So, rather than getting hung up on the ins-and-outs of the Trinity, get caught up in trying to relate to God fully, as the Father who created you as his beloved child, as the Son, Jesus who came to earth as the Christ, to show you what that love truly looks and feels like in his forgiveness, and as the Holy Spirit, who moves in your soul and life still today, filling your heart with the love of God, so that you can find true joy in life, no matter what you may be going through today.

The Trinity is more than a concept for your mind, but rather a way to experience God fully in your life.  Commit to spending time with God, in prayer, in reading, in meditation, in relationship with others, in worship, and in your every day.

God is with you, today and every day; believe it, know it, and live it. And by your loving words and actions, shared in the world, the world’s people can come to truly know God too.


Bible References

  • Romans 5:1 - 5
  • John 16:12 - 15



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