Trinity Sunday is a time in the church year when we consider all three aspects of God: Creator, Son and Spirit. The Doctrine of the Trinity can often be difficult to wrap our heads around and there have been many debates about the doctrine over the life of the church.
What is important for us to realize is not how the Trinity functions, but what it means for us in our daily walk of faith.
Text: John 3:1-17
This morning is Trinity Sunday. The Sunday during the church year where we consider all three aspects of God. Which gets confusing, as we often refer to God as God. As Christians one of our central doctrines is that of the Trinity. Three in one, one in three. Father, Son and Spirit.
Our passage from John’s gospel is one of the rare places in scripture where all three aspects of the Trinity are discussed. Jesus is having a conversation with Nicodemus, a leader at the temple, during their time together Jesus tells him, “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”
Later Jesus will say, “You must be born from above. The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do no know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Then later, Jesus speaks some of the most well known and quoted words in all of scripture. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life.”
Great, so we have a passage that speaks to all three aspects of the Trinity. Describing them in some form or another, but not providing enough information to form a full doctrine or theology of the Trinity. On top of that, this passage is confusing enough in the first place. Being born again, born from above, and born of the Spirit. Sometimes I wish Jesus would just speak plaining.
It can be confusing to keep track of and make sense of everything. In fact, last week during the Children’s Time I probably did the best job I possibly could of explaining how these three aspects of God coexist at the same time. Using ice, hot water and the vapour from the water to illustrate how three things could be at the same place at the same time. While the illustration might be useful, it comes no where near the truth of the matter.
We might ask, why does this matter? What is so important about the doctrine of the Trinity? Don’t we worship God, believe in Jesus and trust in the Holy Spirit. Is that enough? Do we need to dig deeper?
The answer is yes, we do, if we are to try to understand God. However, I’m not going to explain it. I don’t want to put you to sleep.
Karoline Lewis puts it best, “If Trinity Sunday is merely a nod to ecclesiastical arguments made long ago, or an apologetic to make the Trinity great again … boredom will likely set in – and early on – guaranteed.” (Working Preacher)
So, I am not going to explain the Trinity to you. Instead, I’m going to tell you why the Trinity matters.
I believe at God’s core that God is a relational being. In Genesis 3 after the fruit is eaten and Adam and Eve are feeling the shame of their actions we read the following about God. “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze.”
God went for a walk in the garden to have a conversation with Adam and Eve. This tells me that God is a relational being. That God is a relational being is reinforced when you consider how many weddings, parties and meals Jesus attended.
We serve a relational God. The Trinity is a way of explaining God’s relationship with Godself and our relationship with God. It’s about relationship.
Cast your memory back into the stories of scripture. God calls Noah and says build this boat for me. God calls to Abraham and makes a promise that his people will grow and prosper. God calls to Samuel and Samuel answers, “Here I am Lord!”
Jesus calls to the disciples, “Come and follow me.” And they follow him. God calls and invites us into a relationship. The Spirit still calls and informs us of God. Calling and inviting us back to ensure God’s work, God’s justice is done. It’s about the relationship.
The relationship that you have with God. The relationship that we have with God. The relationship that God has with us, which is one of love, grace and peace. Relationship. Ties that bind.
Karoline Lewis writes, “Relationship, you see, is a rather inconvenient truth about God, especially when God is simply a vehicle for your own power and the way of Jesus is justification for decisions meant only to keep your own power. “Our faith is personal but never private, meant not only for heaven but for this earth.” (http://www.reclaimingjesus.org)
God invites us into community. We don’t get to use God, as if we could, for personal gain. God isn’t a weapon to be wielded for self-justification or to exclude others. These things are the antithesis of God.
Gail O’Day says, “We cannot determine who Jesus is, but who we are must be determined by who Jesus is” (The Word Disclosed, St. Louis, Missouri: CBP Press, 1987, p. 27).
If we are in a relationship with Jesus, with our Creator and with the Spirit. If we are in a relationship with God then that determines who we are, what we stand for and what we must do in the world. God, Father, Son and Spirit calls to each of us and invites us into a relationship. By extension we are invited to share the invitation into relationship with others.
Our relationship with God, as individuals and the as the church, is at the heart of everything we do. Everything we strive to accomplish of God’s green earth. When we falter, I believe we only need to look at the ways we have fallen out of relationship with one another. I pray that each of us, that this whole community of faith, would experience the fullness of God’s love in all our relationships. That our relationships would be good and that they would affirm God’s goodness.
We do not need to understand complex doctrines to know that God desires to be in relationship with us. Simply trust that the Triune God desires to be in a relationship with you. And if you take a look through the pages of this book, you will see the ways that God has committed to that relationship. Amen.