We are here this morning to talk about God. Not sure I really needed to say that, because after all, we are at church. And when we’re at church, we talk about God.
But of course, ‘church’ is not the only place where ‘God-talk’ happens, nor should it be. In fact, if you listen carefully, you’ll realize that there’s a lot of God-talk that happens not in church.
Here’s what I mean. You weren’t in church when you heard someone say:
• For God’s sake, for the love of God, God forbid, God only knows.
• Honest to God, thank God, O God.
• God willing and the creek don’t rise…
• An ‘act of God that put the fear of God in him.
• He thinks he’s God’s gift to women.
• As sure as God made green apples.
• There but for the grace of God go I.
• And the always popular ‘GD’ and ‘OMG.’
If you listen for it, you’ll hear God-talk happening all over God’s-green earth.
So here’s a challenge. This week, listen for the ‘God-talk’ that you hear. Become aware of how much God-talk you yourself engage in. And when you hear it, ask yourself, ‘what do they mean when they talk about God?” ‘What did I mean when I just used the word ‘God’?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you try to engage the “God-talker” in a discussion about the nature of God. Or that when someone says, “O my God,” you recite the Athanasian Creed and say, ‘is that the God that you were referring to when you said, “O my God”?
Just be aware of how many people seem to have at least some awareness that there is such a thing as ‘GOD.’ And then ask yourself, ‘I wonder who they think God is?’ ‘I wonder what the think God is like?’ And ‘I wonder what they think their relationship to God is?’ And we should ask ourselves the same questions when ever we find ourselves engaging in God-talk.
But that’s ‘out there,’ and we’re ‘in here.’ So, when I say that we are here this morning to talk about God, what I mean is, we are here to talk about God in a very particular way. We are here to talk about God as the bible talks about God – which is as ‘The Holy Trinity’ of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Not three Gods but three distinct persons in one divine unity.
God the Father created the world and everything in it. “In the beginning, God CREATED the heavens and the earth.” NOT APART FROM the Son and the Spirit, BUT ALONG WITH the Spirit who hovered over the deep and the Word of God which spoke the mind of the Father into reality. “And God said… and it was so.”
As long as we are alive, we live in this CREATION that God the Father has given to us ALONG WITH Himself – earth, animals, plants, water, sky, stars – all for us, for our benefit, for our survival, for our pleasure. And He gives us the honor of and privileged office of being stewards of His creation in His name.
God created the world in all its parts and pieces to serve us even as we are to serve God by taking care of His creation. “Have dominion over it…”
But all of this became darkened by Adam and Eve’s sin. The man and woman decided that they didn’t want to be servants of God and work under Him. They wanted to be their own bosses and work for themselves and take an even bigger share of the profits than felt God was willing to give to them.
It wasn’t just that man couldn’t manage the WHOLE CREATION as well as God the Creator of the Creation does. It’s that he no longer saw it all as GIFT. And he no longer regarded God as the GIVER of EVERY GIFT. His whole idea of God was as ‘government regulator,’ ‘OSHA inspector’ who searches for ways to fine us for failing to meet the codes.
The knowledge of God as FATHER, ‘loving Father’ who loves me and provides for all that need and gives me wonderful gifts was lost in the darkness of sin.
It is for this reason that God the Son gave Himself to us, completely and totally. And this also was not apart from the Father who in love for His creation and his people, sent His Son into the world so that whoever would believe in Him would receive full and total forgiveness for all of their sins and reconciliation with the Father and the whole creation set free from its bondage to the decay of sin.
The Son of God gave Himself to the whole world. And because the Son FULLY GOD, the world receives pure, heavenly righteousness and holiness and wisdom and love. And what love! He became FULLY MAN, and took our sin OFF OF US and put it ONTO HIMSELF. He “became sin for us.” He became who we are. And he paid the price on our behalf, and by His blood, we are reconciled with the Father. And we became who He is.
And God the Father is so perfectly pleased with the work of God the Son that He welcomes us home with open arms and calls for a divine banquet to celebrate. What was lost to Him has been found. What was dead to Him has been made alive.
And none of this happens apart from the Holy Spirit. What good would any of this do us if it all remained hidden from us? What good is a million bucks mysteriously deposited into your bank account if you never see a statement that shows the deposit or the balance in your account? You would continue to live in poverty as though it never happened.
The Holy Spirit comes to us and gives Himself to us completely and totally and teaches us to both recognize the wonderful work that the Son has done for us by His cross and resurrection and ascension into heaven. Without the Holy Spirit, no one would see anything other than a foolish young man named Jesus from Nazareth who thought He was God’s gift to men and women and got the death penalty – God only knows why.
The Holy Spirit opens our eyes and our hearts so that we may know that we have a Savior who has saved us from our sin and death and the devil. The Holy Spirit PROCEEDS from God the Father and God the Son to create faith in our heart so that we may believe the good news of the gospel and strive to turn from our sin and live to the glory and praise of God.
The Holy Spirit brings God the Son to us through the Word and the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. And God the Son brings us to God the Father, saying, “here dear Father, are those whom You sent me into the world to rescue. The Spirit has given them to Me and I give them to You that they may be One even as we are One.”
It is truly very sad, that for all of the God-talk that goes on, so few ‘God-talkers’ know what they’re talking about. Apart from the knowledge of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit, God is some impersonal, far away, cosmic force who looks down on the universe with little or no interest in what goes on. Or, if He does, He must lack the necessary power to do anything about it.
So, this morning, we are here to talk about God. The Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three separate persons in one divine unity – who is LOVE. True LOVE that is always personal. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father and the Holy Spirit binds the love of God TO YOU, and takes you into the very heart of God that YOU may know His love for you. And that you may love Him, no matter how shallow and weak – not from a distance but close to Him, even as He is close to you – ‘take eat, this is my body; take drink, this is my blood.’
Not as impersonal cosmic force but as ‘my God and my Lord,’ even as He calls you, My child, My friend, My beloved.