Click play to listen to the audio version of this sermon.
A 3rd grade teacher in a Lutheran school asked her students to write an essay explaining God. One of her students wrote this:
‘One of God’s main jobs is making people. He makes them to replace the ones that die, so there will be enough people to take care of things on earth. He doesn’t make grown-ups, just babies. I think that’s because they’re smaller and easier to make.
God’s second most important job is listening to prayers. An awful lot of this goes on, since some people, like pastors, pray at times besides bedtime. God doesn’t have time to listen to the radio or TV because of this.
Jesus is God’s Son. He used to do all the hard work like walking on water and performing miracles. But people got tired of Him preaching to them and they crucified him. But he was good and kind, like His Father and He told His Father that they didn’t know what they were doing and to forgive them and God said, ‘Okay.’ His Dad (God) appreciated everything that he had done and all His hard work on earth so He told him he didn’t have to go out on the road anymore, he could stay in heaven. So He did. And now He helps his Dad out by listening to prayers and answering them. Now you can pray anytime you want because they got is worked out so one of them is on duty all the time.’
What would you write if you were asked to explain God? How many of you would recite the Athanasian Creed? Personally, I’d probably start with the Apostles Creed or the Nicene Creed. But this is Trinity Sunday and today we use the Athanasian Creed to explain God.
‘The catholic faith is this, that we worship one God, in three persons and the three persons in one God, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.’
Today is a day that is devoted to the consideration of who God is. If we have trouble expressing ‘who God is,’ it may be because we are not used to thinking about God or speaking about God like this. We’re much more used to speaking about ‘what God does.’ We’re practical, utilitarians at heart, and we want to know ‘what God does for me.’ ‘How does God benefit me’?
When asked about God, we can speak fairly easily about my goals in life and my accomplishments to date and my trials and troubles and how God has helped me in each of these areas of my life. It’s important to be religious because that’s the way you get God to do what you want Him to do for you. Good sermons are those that tell us how to PUT GOD TO WORK in our marriage or our jobs or our troubles and conflicts.
Have we lost sight of the much more biblical view of religion, that worships God because of WHO HE IS. Reading through the Old and New Testaments, we’re struck by how much of the Church’s worship consists of simply recalling and naming the attributes of God, His wisdom, power, love, justice, mercy.
Only AFTER focusing on WHO GOD IS do we hear the prophets and the apostles give thanks for WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US. God, who ‘is light,’ has brought out of the darkness and into His light. God who is ‘eternal life’ has brought us out of death and mortality and into His life and immortality.
True religion is always God centered, never man centered. It is God who is ‘all in all,’ for His own sake, not for ours. We tend to think that God exists in order to please us. But the Scriptures make it clear that God created man for His own good pleasure and we exist to serve God.
So, Trinity Sunday is a wonderful corrective to our worship that always wants to veer off course and focus on ourselves rather than God. Today, with the help of the Athanasian Creed, ‘we worship one God, in three persons and the three persons in one God, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance.’
GOD IS Father, who called the world into existence through the Son by Whom all things were made. The Son sends the Holy Spirit who preserves all things in heaven and on earth and Who keeps the Church in the one, true faith.
Since the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three divine persons in one, perfect unity, we can say what we’ve just said backwards, and it still comes out just right. The Holy Spirit carries out the mission of the Son by opening the hearts and minds of men and women, boys and girls to believe that Jesus is the Son of God. And through this gift of faith, the Son covers us in His righteousness and presents us the Father, holy and righteous in His sight.
Or, since the Father is fully God and the Son is fully God and the Holy Spirit is fully God, you can explain WHO GOD IS like this. The Son has come down from heaven and entered into our humanity and by His death, the Holy Spirit is released into the world. The Holy Spirit, working through the Word and Sacraments, conforms us into the image of the Son, which makes us beloved sons and daughters of of God.
So rather than dwell on how God is at work in my life, this morning we dwell on how God has taken us into His life. Rather than proclaiming how God has helped me accomplished my will, we proclaim that God has taken me into His will and how His will has been done. Along with St. Paul we say, ‘In Him, we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:28).
This is what Jesus is commanding His apostles to proclaim just before He leaves them and ascends into heaven. ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore and make disciples of every nation, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Through Holy Baptism, the apostles bring men and women, boys and girls INTO the Triune God.
It seems a though I am hearing a lot talk about ‘having God in my life’ or ‘finding God in my life.’ And I see children of God getting a bit stressed out from time to time because they’re not sure that they really have God in their life. They’re not sure how or where we’re to find God in our life.
But the Scriptures don’t talk about God and our life like that at all. They talk about our life IN GOD. We find our life IN GOD, right where God has taken us and put us in our Baptism. Paul writes to the Colossians saying, ‘For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.’ (Colossians 3:3)
To ‘find our life in God’ is an altogether different thing than ‘finding God in our life.’ Finding God in my life is hard to do and you can never be sure if you’ve found Him or not because God remains hidden. Luther used to say, God hides behind masks. To ‘find God in my life’ puts the focus on ‘my life’ and I’m constantly examining ‘my life’ to see if I can find God in it or not.
But when I find myself in God, everything changes. I can find yourself in God simply by pointing to my Baptism. God’s word and promise are sure and certain and when He says, ‘You are baptized into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,’ you can be absolutely sure of where you are.
And to be sure that ‘my life is hidden with Christ in God,’ frees me from worrying and fretting about ‘finding God in my life.’ Taken into the divine sanctuary of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, what is there to fear or fret about? Rather, we rest secure, we are content with what we have. We know that nothing can harm us, not even death itself, because the almighty One, the omniscient One, omnipresent One, the God of love, has taken us into Himself.
He is before all things and He is after all things. So after all of my trails and troubles have come and gone, all of my successes and failures have been counted up, all my days have been counted down, He will be right there, and I will still be ‘hidden with Christ in God.’
So today, we lift up our hearts unto the Lord, as we are ushered into the glory of God in the highest where, with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify the Trinity in person and the Unity in substance, of majesty coeternal.
We laud and magnify, making big before our eyes, God the Father, who gives His only Son by the power of the Holy Spirit for the redemption of His whole creation.
We laud and magnify God the Holy Spirit, who broadcasts the name of Jesus Christ and Him crucified to the ends of the earth so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
We laud and magnify God the Son, who in perfect and willing obedience to the Father’s will, took our humanity and suffered, was crucified and died and rose again on the 3rd day and ascended into heaven, from where He sent the Holy Spirit to be our Comforter.
Through Holy Baptism, this Triune God has taken you into His Triunity. All that belongs to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is yours. And if that doesn’t change our perspective on everything, than nothing will. From within the Triune God, we realize that the world does not revolve around us like we thought it did. We see clearly that all of those ‘things of this world’ that we thought you would die without, are ‘meaningless, meaningless, utterly meaningless.’ (Eccl.1:1). That every worry and care about our life and what we will eat or drink or what we will wear, even our life itself is simply nothing to worry about.
Don’t worry that for now, we cannot comprehend all that this means or take it all in. When you get to heaven, the incomprehensible will become perfectly comprehensible. For now, it’s enough to know in this eternal, uncreated, almighty Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our mortality is swallowed up in His immortality, our death is transfigured into life, and our disintegrating bodies are resurrected into Christ’s glorious body.
And so that we may be continually assured and reassured that our life is ‘hidden with Christ in God,’ Jesus instituted the Sacrament of the Altar. Here, as long as we still live on this side of heaven, we receive a foretaste of the heaven to come in a real-time participation in the Father’s sending His Son for the forgiveness of our sins, as the Holy Spirit brings us the body and blood of Jesus to eat and drink.
In this same Holy Communion, God the Father sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts and we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ In the Holy Spirit we confess that Jesus Christ is our Brother, and in His name we come before His Father and say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.’
Hidden with Christ in God, we are united with all those who are likewise hidden – with all of the saints on earth who are alive right now, and with those who are yet to be born, and with all those who have gone before us, and with the angels and archangels and all the company of heaven. And we join our voice with theirs to laud and magnify the ‘holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.’ ‘To you alone, O Father, be all glory, honor and worship, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.’ Amen.