Pastor’s Post For the week of Sunday, May 22nd
A PASTOR’S POST FOR TRINITY SUNDAY – MAY 22, 2016
Dear friends in Christ:
This Sunday, May 22, we celebrate Holy Trinity Sunday with all Christians in the western “catholic” tradition. While Scripture does not mention the word “trinity,” the Holy Trinity is the way we express the mystery of God’s being three divine persons on one essential unity as revealed in the Bible. This is why we speak the names of the persons of the Trinity as we make the sign of the cross (“In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (T) and of the Holy Spirit, while also confession that there is one God who is Lord of all. Lutherans embrace the western creedal “catholic consensus” confessed in the church’s three “ecumenical” creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian. All confess faith in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Some people might question why things have to be so complicated. Why does our understanding of God seem so hard to pin down and has to be expressed in this complex doctrine called “The Holy Trinity?” Isn’t it enough to just believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior? As Lutherans often do, I would respond, “yes and no.” Surely the faith God gives us is sufficient for us. The Bible says, “My grace is sufficient for you.” A five year old and a septuagenarian will each have their own ways of expressing faith. It’s what psychologists of religion might call being “age appropriate.” Still, here are some ways why learning to confess our faith in Trinitarian terms is important.
First, simply put, we don’t have a choice. Wouldn’t it be arrogant to decide we today should discard 1600 years of Christian confession (at least since the Council of Nicaea that gave us the Nicene Creed in AD 325) and decide that “we know better?” Of course it has been done. There are some Christian congregations that leave the creed out of their worship. Perhaps their leadership is concerned that people will be “turned off” by the ancient language of the creeds. It’s a choice that is made, but sadly so. It raises the question of whether we are called to be faithful to what been handed on to us, or to merely make people comfortable. It seems to me to be faithful is to proclaim repentance that leads to confession of sin that leads to the Gospel of the forgiveness of sins – and that might make people “uncomfortable.” If your faith makes you comfortable all the time, it’s probably not true faith.
Second the Holy Trinity is what the Bible says about God. The Apostles’ Creed, perhaps also as ancient as the Nicene Creed, is a short summary of what the Bible tells us God has done. That’s important because not everyone can, or has the opportunity, to read and digest the whole of Scripture. The Apostles’ Creed reminds us that God created us, and all that is, out of love and delight, that when humanity rebelled against God and fell into sin, God nevertheless loved us and came in the human person of Jesus to suffer, die and be raised from death for us. This same God is with us by the Holy Spirit, that we may believe and trust in God’s love and mercy in our living and in our dying. I’ve taught children that there are three things they need to know about themselves: God made them (they are beautiful in God’s eyes), God loves them all the time (as Jesus shows us), and God is with them all the time (by the Holy Spirit). If the God the Holy Spirit blesses those so taught they will be better able to cope with and transcend the challenges inherent in living and dying in this sinful world.
As we contemplate the love of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in the mystery of the Holy Trinity we rejoice that the Holy Spirit has blessed us with the Holy Trinity as a beautiful image of the God of the Bible who invites us to be in relationship with Him, as He is in relationship Himself, and to see our relationships with one another as echoes of the Trinity in human life where we love, care for, forgive, and are present with one another in the name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Joe Hughes
Voice & text: 217-898-9063